BMA not de-unionising workforce: Dumble

THE BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance has denied claims it is trying to de-unionise its coal mining workforce and has defended its contributions to coal mining communities in Queensland’s Bowen Basin as the 18-month dispute over enterprise agreements with its 4000 employees drags on.
BMA not de-unionising workforce: Dumble BMA not de-unionising workforce: Dumble BMA not de-unionising workforce: Dumble BMA not de-unionising workforce: Dumble BMA not de-unionising workforce: Dumble

Bolting at Broadmeadow, image courtesy of BMA.

Lou Caruana

BMA president Steve Dumble told the ABC’s Four Corners program that the company was taking a long-term view of development in the Bowen Basin and was making investments in its own labour force as well as local infrastructure.

“We had no plans to de-unionise this business,” he said.

“The plan that we have is that we can lift our direct levels of BMA employment, reduce our reliance on contractors, take the contractors and the single people out of the town and a lot of these problems can be resolved – and we're determined to make that happen.”

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union district president Steve Smyth told the program BMA management was seeking to sideline unions from the management and development of the industry in central Queensland.

“My view is simply they want to de-unionise the coal mines that BHP run,” he said.

“There's no doubt about it and this is a part of a 20:20 vision or a broader strategy to de-unionise coal and to remove the union who they see as [an] irrelevant and a ... third-party interference.”

The development of 100% fly-in, fly-out operations, such as BMA’s new Caval Ridge mine in the Bowen Basin, is designed to break the spirit of heavily unionised towns such as Moranbah, according to Smyth.

“Automatically, you remove that community spirit, you know, the spirit of coming home at night to your family, of having social gatherings, getting together on weekends,” he said.

But BMA said the company was making contributions to the town of Moranbah as well as its airport, which was increasingly being used for FIFO workers.

“We're putting our hand in our pocket for childcare, for recreational facilities,” Dumble said.

“We're putting our hand in our pocket for ... $800 million worth of royalties and taxes to the state government.

“We're putting our hand in our pocket and ... building 383 houses in our communities over the next ... two years.

“We're doing all of those things.

“We're putting three and a half million dollars this year into affordable housing in partnership with the Isaac Regional Council.

“We're doing all of those things, so my view is that we're certainly playing our part.”