BMA mine workers to strike
WORKERS in seven coal mines in central Queensland will stop work this weekend, accusing mining giant BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) of industrial trickery after two days of negotiation.
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union assistant secretary Rohan Webb said the three unions involved – the AMWU, the Construction Forestry Mining and Engineering Union (CFMEU) and the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) – had informed BMA there would be shift stoppages from this Friday to Sunday.
BMA owns and operates seven Bowen Basin mines – Goonyella Riverside, Broadmeadow, Peak Downs, Saraji, Norwich Park, Gregory Crinum, and Blackwater.
This second round of protected industrial action was endorsed in secret ballots at all sites by over 90% of the workers covered by the agreement.
“Workers at BMA also endorsed further industrial action in support of their claim for job security, natural justice within the workplace, training and skills development and equity for all workers,” Mr Webb said.
He blasted BMA’s late offer of a 30‐day extension of the protected industrial action period, which was made by letter late this afternoon.
“BMA did not bring this matter up at any stage during the current negotiations which surprised the unions when we received the letter late today,” he said.
“Unions suggested this extension during negotiations with BMA on 3 June in Brisbane but BMA flatly rejected it. It would have given all parties a chance to talk further but now BMA is just playing games with this desperate ploy.
“The unions have considered the letter from BMA and we advised them that this weekend’s industrial action would proceed as we are now committed to a process,” he said.
He also questioned BMA’s tactics of announcing key negotiating issues in advertisements in regional newspapers before the actual talks took place.
Unions had ignored these tactics and talks continued and made progress in several areas, he said.
The combined unions cover around 2300 workers in the seven BMA mines in central Queensland.
The AMWU and the other unions have been negotiating with BMA since late 2010 over the pay equity issues at the seven sites.
“BMA is arguing that contractors, labour hire and casuals should be on different pay and conditions from permanent workers,” Mr Webb said.
“The AMWU believes that all workers on site should be paid site conditions. Having contract workers on cheaper rates of pay significantly undercuts not only the value of their work, but also the job security of directly‐employed workers.”