Weekend industrial action at BMA coal mines

VARIOUS shift stoppages will affect seven BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance coal mines in Queensland over the weekend as enterprise agreement negotiations have failed to make significant progress this week.
Weekend industrial action at BMA coal mines Weekend industrial action at BMA coal mines Weekend industrial action at BMA coal mines Weekend industrial action at BMA coal mines Weekend industrial action at BMA coal mines

Union members, image courtesy of the CFMEU.

Blair Price

Each of the stoppages will last about 12 hours and could involve either one or two crews, depending on the site.

All industrial action will end on Monday.

Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union officials met with BMA representatives over the past couple of days to work on the new EA agreement.

CFMEU Queensland district president Stephen Smyth told ILN there was progress on the first day, but yesterday BMA presented version six of the EA, which he said was “light on detail”

While the 30-day protected industrial action period will expire on July 3, the union aims to extend it through an application to Fair Work Australia.

The next round of EA talks is scheduled for July 11-12 and there are indications that relations between the union and BMA are not improving.

BMA recently ran advertisements in Central Queensland and Mackay newspapers detailing some outstanding issues in the EA negotiations.

Smyth said some of those issues raised, such as job security with contractors, had not yet been discussed in union meetings with BMA management and described the move as “a little bit desperate”.

“Our view is that it was a bit underhanded, mischievous, behind the scenes, and trying to negotiate through the media before they spoke with us.

“We made it very clear to them we weren’t very happy about that.”

Smyth said the union will speak to the media and will generally discuss the outstanding EA issues without providing detailed content of them.

Before the stop-work meetings last week, BMA offered a 5% per annum pay increase to the workers at each of the mines along with a $A5000 sign on bonus.

BMA asset president Stephen Dumble wrote to workers early this month warning of the impacts industrial action would have on families and its business, “particularly at a time when we are still recovering from this year’s unprecedented floods”

Negotiations over the new BMA central EA covering the seven mines started around November/December and this encompassing EA expired on May 16.

Unlike previous disputes over EAs in the mining industry, the CFMEU has teamed up with the Electrical Trades Union and Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union to form a single bargaining unit with BMA over the central agreement.

The seven mines facing weekend industrial action are Norwich Park, Saraji, Gregory, Crinum, Blackwater, Peak Downs and Goonyella Riverside.

BHP led other coal companies into a quarterly contract regime for metallurgical coal in 2010 and a long industrial relations campaign which limits production from BMA could further support high coking coal prices.

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