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Mine supervisors to strike at BHP's Appin

HOT on the heels of its two-year dispute with unions in the Queensland coalfields, BHP Billiton is facing industrial action again - this time at its Appin mine in New South Wales.

Lou Caruana
Mine supervisors to strike at BHP's Appin

Fifty-two supervisors at the mine have elected to take the unprecedented step of striking for 14 days from Friday.

As a result of protracted enterprise agreement negotiations, 98% of Appin mining supervisors voted to support protected action two weeks ago, but they continued to negotiate with BHP in the hope of reaching agreement and avoid any need for action, director of the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia (APESMA) Catherine Bolger said.

“These mining supervisors have never taken industrial action before,” she said.

“They have been trying to negotiate for five months, so they are extremely frustrated and upset that BHP is still not listening.

“These supervisors play a big role in the mine. It makes no sense for BHP to refuse to pay them on par with their colleagues in other coal mines in New South Wales.”

Bolger said the supervisors had frontline responsibility for keeping Appin safe, productive and profitable and should be remunerated to reflect that responsibility.

Supervisors at Appin are paid well below market rates, she said.

The improvements being sought would bring them up to the middle of the market, help boost retention rates and attract more highly skilled workers to the Illawarra region, she said.

“Every single day these mining supervisors demonstrate their commitment and dedication to BHP when they keep the mine and its workforce safe and productive,” she said.

“These mining supervisors are going on strike because BHP isn’t listening to their concerns or giving them a fair go. They can see local Illawarra Coal mine management being directed by BHP’s corporate HQ not to come to a reasonable deal that reflects their value and role in making the mine functional and profitable.”

ILN had not received comment from BHP Billiton at the time of publication.

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