As the company seeks to lower unit costs in the low coal price environment, it is increasingly turning to casual and contract labour to circumvent paying full time wage levels struck with the unions during a protracted enterprise bargaining dispute when the coking coal price was higher four years ago.
Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union Queensland district president Steve Smyth said the company’s recent move to casualise the workforce at its Blackwater mine could be just the beginning of BHP’s plans to contract out the rest of its permanent workforce in Central Queensland.
“We’ve approached BHP directly to ask them about their plans for their remaining permanent employees across the Bowen Basin and they have refused to give an answer,” Smyth said.
“They won’t rule out using this same strategy at other mines and it’s clear that all permanent, local positions with BMA in Central Queensland are under threat.”
Smyth said BHP’s decision to remove up to 306 permanent, secure jobs at Blackwater – without consulting with local workers, their union or the community – was indicative of its ruthless and damaging approach.
“If BHP had any respect for its current loyal employees or the communities near its coalmines it would give its remaining employees peace of mind and rule out casualising the workforce at its other Bowen Basin mines,” he said.
“By refusing to do so, BHP is making it obvious that all it wants is a compliant workforce which is paid less, has inferior working conditions and can be sacked at a moment’s notice.
“BHP’s mineworkers across Central Queensland are extremely anxious about their future and the future of their families.
“We’re calling on BHP to show some loyalty to its workforce and immediately rule out further casualisation of its local workforce in the Bowen Basin.
“Local workers and communities deserve to share in the benefits of the natural resources in their local area and if BHP continues to attack local, secure jobs it risks losing its social license to mine.”
ICN contacted BHP Billiton for comment.