BMA poll results today as strikes loom

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance is bracing for an escalation of industrial action by three key unions next week across its seven mines in Queensland’s Bowen coal region after the results of a ballot for 4000 of its employees on its proposed enterprise agreement are revealed today.
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BMA's Saraji open cut mine in Queensland.

Staff Reporter

The Construction, Forestry, Miners and Energy Union and other unions in the dispute are mobilised and ready to raise the intensity of the industrial campaign against BMA with a week-long strike after being deadlocked for more than 18 months over EAs.

Last month, Fair Work Australia ruled in favour of holding another postal ballot on a new EA.

If the workers vote in favour of the EA, it will put an end to the bitter dispute but union officials are prepared to pursue industrial action if it is rejected and they have enlisted the support of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

The ACTU congress in Sydney passed a resolution urging the 4000 central Queensland workers to maintain their stance during negotiations with BHP.

In its resolution, the ACTU said it would mobilise the support of the trade union movement at home and abroad in the event BHP continued to refuse to negotiate in good faith.

“We condemn BHP’s pursuit of safety deregulation that would transfer vital safety roles from qualified workers on the job to management,” the ACTU said in a statement.

Rostering and the right of union officials to perform safety roles are the key sticking points.

In addition, unions claim they want housing, equal pay for equal work and protection of entitlements.

“We're expecting a result this afternoon,” a CFMEU spokesperson told ILN.

“We'll be definitely putting a release out regarding the results.”

CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth welcomed the support of the ACTU and said Bowen Basin workers should be encouraged by the message of support from other trade unions.

In its submission to the review of the Fair Work Act, BHP said it needed to preserve ''management's retention of the ultimate responsibility and right to run the business – with employee consultation not elevated to a right of veto over operational decision making''.

''BHP Billiton contends that the legitimate sphere of enterprise agreements is entitlements for employees in respect of their wages and conditions of employment,'' it said.

BHP said the act went beyond that, allowing ''interference with managerial decision making''.

BMA ceased production at its Norwich Park coking coal mine after it struggled under the weight of a high Australian dollar, unfavourable mining conditions – in part brought about by the recent floods – and the industrial action over EAs.

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