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Management approves 105 new permanent coal workers

Goonyella Riverside Mine
Goonyella Riverside Mine

A resources giant offered dozens of employees more career certainty and remuneration in Central Queensland.

BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) recently approved a 4 per cent annual pay rise, $2000 sign-on bonus, voluntary early retirement scheme, and 105 new enterprise agreement (EA) roles at the following coal operations:

  • Saraji, 231km southwest of Mackay
  • Blackwater, 226km west of Rockhampton
  • Peak Downs, 210km southwest of Mackay
  • Goonyella Riverside, 203km southwest of Mackay.

The deal guarantees that EA numbers will not drop below present levels across all four mine sites. It also promises “one-for-one” replacement of EA employees within the same mining operation and work area for the next three years.

The breakthrough came after BMA coal workers voted in favour of part-shift stoppages (90 per cent), overtime bans (94 per cent), training sessions (90 per cent), step up duties (93 per cent), hot-seating bans during shift changeovers (95 per cent), and meal breaks at designated times (93 per cent). A total of 81 per cent also supported shift-length stoppages exceeding six hours.

Mining and Energy Union (MEU) confirmed overtime and step-up duty bans were implemented, while Peak Downs and Goonyella Riverside members introduced five-hour stoppages between 3pm and 8pm on 4 November 2022.

MEU welcomed BMA’s offer and most workers at all four operations voted in favour of the new EA because it “guarantees growth” in permanent job numbers.

“BHP will no longer be able to cut permanent jobs and replace them with labour hire. Maintaining permanent jobs will be a priority when there is a labour surplus, and EA jobs lost through attrition must be replaced by EA jobs,” Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said in a public statement.

“Negotiations for the new EA were long and tough but members said that standing up for permanent, secure jobs was their top priority – and we were able to achieve some important protections.”

BMA revealed 71 per cent of workers approved the new EA which was bargained in “good faith”.

“The new agreement provides new job security clauses and a simplified career structure, career paths and development,” head of production execution Steve Johnston said according to News Limited.

“During the past 21 months, you have been … engaged in constructive discussions, focused on a package of measures that address employees’ concerns and ensure our operations remain safe, productive and sustainable.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Court of Australia scheduled a hearing on 3 April 2023 for Smyth to answer allegations he unlawfully used his MEU MasterCard to spend member money on home plumbing, personal dental work, driver’s licence renewals, hired cars during annual leave in the United States plus travel and meals for both himself and family members.

The Registered Organisations Commissioner claims Smyth breached officer duties under sections 285, 286 and 287 of the Fair Work Act by racking up $6700 in personal expenses with district branch funds during more than 80 transactions throughout the 2016 financial year.

MEU refused to comment on whether Smyth would be stood down because the matter was still before the courts at the time of publication.

Click here to download the court order.

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