MARKETS

BMA appeals directly to workers to stop strike

THE BHP Mitsubishi Alliance is desperate to end a 15-month enterprise agreement deadlock and is imploring workers not to go ahead with planned industrial action tomorrow at three more mines in the Bowen Basin.

Lou Caruana
BMA appeals directly to workers to stop strike

BHP – which flagged at its profit announcement that industrial relations issues across its central Queensland operations would lower its productivity – is trying to circumvent union influence and appeal directly to employees.

“We remain committed to resuming negotiations in good faith,” a BHP spokesperson told ILN.

“We reserve the right to manage our business safely and in a commercially successful way. We would urge employees and their representatives to return to constructive discussions.”

BMA’s Saraji and Norwich Park operations could be closed for 10 days due to strike action from February 25 over enterprise agreements after a week-long strike by 3000 workers at seven BMA mines, while a night strike is planned at BMA’s Goonyella Riverside mine on February 26.

“Industrial action and the remnant effects of wet weather continued to constrain the performance of our leading Queensland coal business,” BHP said in its interim profit report earlier this month.

“While system capability is no longer constrained by the 2011 floods, the extent to which industrial action will continue to impact production, sales and unit costs is difficult to predict.”

BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers has also raised the possibility of winding down of unprofitable coal mines in the Queensland coalfields as industrial disputes over enterprise agreements continue to impact on productivity and profitability.

While the company remained committed to developing its Queensland operations, it would have to look at each of its projects to assess how profitable they were and whether they should remain in its portfolio, he told the ABC.

“I think a more immediate problem is that some of our operations, given some of those price movements that you've seen, not all of our operations are making profit to the same extent at the moment.

“That's probably more the avenue that you're going to see us act in; where an existing operation doesn't make profit, we're probably likely to say look this is not making profit, let's curtail production.”

BHP’s Illawarra Coal in New South Wales is emerging as a more significant producer of coking coal for the diversified minerals group as its Queensland coal operations struggle with geotechnology problems at Gregory Crinum and remain deadlocked in industrial disputes over enterprise agreements.

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