Downer secures more contracts at Blackwater

IN a sign that the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance is moving further down the road of contractor labour at its central Queensland coal mines, Downer EDI has been awarded two contracts at the Blackwater coal mine.
Downer secures more contracts at Blackwater Downer secures more contracts at Blackwater Downer secures more contracts at Blackwater Downer secures more contracts at Blackwater Downer secures more contracts at Blackwater

BMA's Blackwater mine.

Lou Caruana

The BMA decision to replace more than 20% of its permanent workforce with contractors at Blackwater mine was “another slap in the face for mineworkers”, the miners’ union said.

According to a company notice to employees, more than 300 local jobs would be directly affected by the decision.

A two-year contract has been awarded for mining and maintenance services at the mine valued at approximately $150 million with an additional one-year option. The scope of work includes the load and haul of pre-strip material using BMA-owned plant and equipment, as well as maintenance of BMA-owned plant and equipment.

The second contract is for the provision of blasting services valued at approximately $75 million and has a term of three years. The scope of work includes the management and provision of drilling and blasting services, including partial down-the-hole loading services.

The works included in these two contracts are additional to those included in the $100 millionmining services contract announced by Downer in June 2015.

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union Queensland district president Steve Smyth said BHP wants to remove full time, permanent employees who live locally and replace them with contractors.

“[They will] have no job security, will receive less pay, and have inferior working conditions compared to current BHP employees under their enterprise agreement,” Smyth said.

“Communities across the Bowen Basin have already been ripped apart by BHP’s deliberate strategy to lock local workers out of jobs, undercut wages and conditions and destroy the idea of permanent employment.

“It is simply not correct to justify this ruthless behaviour by citing lower coal prices. BHP’s Bowen Basin mines are still highly profitable, especially considering that falling prices have been cushioned by the decline in the value of the Australian dollar. Any savings made by ripping off workers will go straight out of the Bowen Basin and Queensland and directly into the company’s pockets.”

It is clear that all BHP wants is a cheap and compliant workforce who they can sack at a moment’s notice, Smyth said.

“A compliant workforce with no job security will be less likely to stand up and speak out about safety issues. Tragically, a contract mineworker was killed at this mine in March this year,” he said.