Negotiations reach impasse: BMA

THE Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union believes BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance is up to dirty tactics by scheduling workers to vote on the miner’s 11th proposed version of the enterprise agreement during school holidays.
Negotiations reach impasse: BMA Negotiations reach impasse: BMA Negotiations reach impasse: BMA Negotiations reach impasse: BMA Negotiations reach impasse: BMA

Union members, image courtesy of the CFMEU.

Blair Price

Yet BMA says negotiations have reached an impasse.

After months of negotiations and intermittent industrial action, BMA is allowing its workers to vote on the latest version of the enterprise agreement in a ballot at the end of September.

Unlike previous disputes over EAs in the mining industry, the CFMEU has teamed up with the Electrical Trades Union and Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union to form a Single Bargaining Unit for the EA negotiations covering seven Central Queensland coal mines.

While workers have rejected previous EA offerings, which have included sweeteners of a 5% pay rise with a $5000 sign-on bonus, the CFMEU is particularly concerned with the timing of the next ballot.

CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth said BHP were employing dirty tactics by holding the employee ballot’s during school holidays.

“The company bosses are preying on our hardworking members who will be taking time out to spend with their families with the timing of this vote,” he said.

“This is a deliberate attempt to take advantage of mining families looking after their kids.”

Some workers would have the option to vote via post, but Smyth said this wasn’t a fair option.

“While the provision of postal votes is noted, the fact is many of our members won’t be at home during the school holidays to get their mail,” Smyth said.

The union estimated that 20% of coal miners would be on leave during voting time.

Yet enough time has passed according to BMA.

“We believe we have reached an impasse in negotiations based on feedback from the SBU that they were not prepared to compromise further on matters yet to be agreed,” a BMA spokesperson told ILN.

“We believe that after 32 full day meetings with the Single Bargaining Unit over the past nine months it is time for employees to have the opportunity to have their say.”

The spokesperson also urged its employees to take the time to review and understand the new EA in detail over the coming weeks, before the end of September ballot.

About 3500 coal miners across seven mines have joined in rolling work stoppages that began in June after they rejected a previous EA put forward by BMA.

CFMEU wants BMA to extend its voting period by an extra week to cater for its workers on leave.

Shift-long rolling stoppages, covering either night or day shifts, are scheduled to begin on Friday at BMA’s Crinum, Gregory, Peak Downs, Goonyella Riverside and Blackwater coal mines.

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