Fifty-two mine supervisors have called a strike for two weeks from Friday because of the company’s refusal to negotiate for remuneration packages in line with the market average, according to the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia.
During comprehensive negotiations with the union the company proposed a competitive agreement recognising the importance of the Appin mine supervisors, BHP Billiton said in a statement to ILN.
Illawarra Coal president Troy McDonald said it was important for the mine to be able to continue to attract the best mine supervisors in the industry.
“Appin mine supervisors are competitively remunerated, a fact supported by the very low level of turnover in these positions at the Appin mine,” he said.
“The Appin mine supervisors’ base salaries have increased by more than 18 per cent over the past four years including an average increase of 5 per cent in September this year.”
However, APESMA director Catherine Bolger said supervisors at Appin were paid well below market rates.
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.
“These mining supervisors are going on strike because BHP isn’t listening to their concerns or giving them a fair go,” Bolger said.
“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.”
McDonald said he was disappointed with the union’s inflammatory public statements.
“Illawarra Coal is proud of its reputation as a stable, large employer in the Illawarra community,” he said.
“The union’s attempts to pressure the company by causing disruption to operations through industrial action will not result in agreement to their unreasonable claims.
“Such action will only cause uncertainty for the mine, all its employees and the broader Illawarra community.”
The company remained committed to finalising an agreement on reasonable terms with employees and union representatives as soon as possible, McDonald added.