4000 miners vote on strike action
THE threat of a strike that could cripple production at some of Central Queensland’s biggest coal mines this winter was raised yesterday as unions said their pay negotiations had reached a stalemate.
Up to 4000 BMA workers at seven mines are being balloted on industrial action which industry insiders fear could spread through the booming sector.
An alliance of three unions – CFMEU, AMWU and CEPU – say the ballot will decide the next move in a dispute centred on the different rates of pay for directly employed workers and contractors.
CFMEU spokesman Steve Pierce said the unions were also concerned about job security and training opportunities and stressed strike action was always a last resort.
“It’s not an action we take lightly or use at the drop of a hat,” Mr Pierce said.
“We’re unable to reach a reasonable compromise at this time.”
Although the potential dispute affects only those mines owned and operated by the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, other mining companies are monitoring the mood of the mining workers and their appetite for a fight to push for higher wages in an industry where there are tangible skills shortages and an increasing demand for new blood.
A spokeswoman for BMA admitted yesterday that although discussions with the alliance of unions were ongoing, there were key differences.
She said the unions’ claims were unreasonable and would affect the cost, productivity and competitiveness of the company’s ventures.
“They want to introduce a range of outdated industrial practices. These are beyond reasonable expectations.”
Workers have until June 2 to cast their votes and a decision on strike action is expected soon after.
BMA is one of Central Queensland’s largest private sector employers with more than 4800 direct employees spread between seven coal mines and the Hay Point coal export terminal near Mackay.
Operations include Blackwater Mine which has an annual capacity of 14 million tonnes and Goonyella Riverside near Moranbah which is one of the largest open cut coal mines in Australia.
- Broadmeadow (Moranbah)
- Goonyella Riverside (Moranbah)
- Gregory Crinum (Emerald)
- Peak Downs (Moranbah/Dysart)
- Norwich Park (Dysart/Middlemount)
- Saraji (Dysart)