Multiple Central Queensland mining operations will temporarily postpone work for more long-term employment.
The Mining and Energy Union (MEU) confirmed it recently commenced protected industrial action at the following BHP coal mines:
- Saraji, 231km southwest of Mackay
- Blackwater, 226km west of Rockhampton
- Peak Downs, 210km southwest of Mackay
- Goonyella Riverside, 203km southwest of Mackay.
Bans on overtime and step-up duties will remain in place until further notice. Additionally, MEU members at Peak Downs and Goonyella Riverside have planned five-hour stoppages between 3pm and 8pm on 4 November 2022.
“With coal prices so high there is constant pressure to maintain and increase production, so we are confident our bans and stoppages will be felt,” MEU Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said in a public statement.
“We are continuing our dialogue with BHP to work through members’ concerns about protecting current and future permanent jobs. We will have no hesitation in ramping up our industrial campaign, if members feel that progress is not being made.”
The remarks came after coal workers from all four BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) mine sites supported 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 voted in favour of shift-length stoppages exceeding six hours.
MEU believes the 10-day ballot held between 14 and 24 October 2022 reflects widespread concerns about dwindling permanent positions to just 40 per cent since the year 2012. Labour hire contractor numbers soared to 60 per cent during the same period, largely due to BHP’s in-house Operations Services business.
BMA claims its enterprise agreement (EA) already offers some of the sector’s best employment environments. QMEB understands these provisions include hiring additional new employees, paid union annual general meetings for all mine sites, voluntary early retirement at any time, and simplified redundancy provisions to increase EA protections and retrenchment entitlements.
“We are disappointed about the support for industrial action and remain committed to constructive bargaining in good faith through the existing Fair Work Commission process. The best way forward for a win-win outcome is to negotiate an agreement, not industrial action,” a BMA spokesperson previously said.
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