BHP “playing Queenslanders for fools”, CFMEU says

Image credit: flickr user: Image Library

The CFMEU announced on Tuesday that it has obtained an internal briefing paper prepared by a mining industry contractor which reads that BHP will reopen the Norwich Park coal mine if it manages to import cheaper workforce from the interstate at the expense of the more costly Queensland workforce.

Image credit: flickr user: Image Library
Image credit: flickr user: Image Library

The miners’ union accused that the paper represents a slap in the face for Queensland workers and that it effectively banns them from seeking employment at the Central Queensland coal mine which BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) closed three years ago.

“BMA has strongly indicated that success of the project will be dependent on being able to operate the mine efficiently while using labour that is paid significantly less than is currently the case at surrounding existing operations,” the paper states.

“A strong desire has been expressed that labour should be sourced from lower paying areas outside of Queensland (Adelaide, Melbourne for example). They are likely to try and leverage off the labour model used at Norwich Park to generate lower cost labour models at their other operations.”


The paper suggests BHP intends to restart production in the mine in July and use the lower wages at Norwich Park to drive wage-cutting at other operations.

CFMEU Mining and Energy General Secretary Andrew Vickers said it was obvious that BHP had closed Norwich Park as part of an industrial strategy to slash wages and deny jobs to local Queensland workers, even though its Queensland coal mines were profitable and could afford to provide good, permanent jobs to local workers.

“Four hundred skilled Queensland mineworkers were put out of work when BHP closed Norwich Park in 2012. Now it appears that Queenslanders from Dysart or Moranbah or Mackay will have to relocate to Melbourne or Adelaide if they want to work at a local coal mine. It’s no coincidence that BHP is now planning to reopen the mine exactly three years after closing it, to avoid legal requirements to hire back the local workers it ruthlessly dumped,” said Mr Vickers.

“This was always their plan. BHP is playing Queenslanders for fools – denying them the jobs and royalties they deserve from Queensland resources. Labor and the LNP must condemn this ruthless behaviour from BHP and demand the company stop discriminating against locals being employed in coal mines on their doorsteps.”