Workers and community leaders from Blackwater, as well as MPs and Councillors of all political persuasions, will convene at the Civic Centre on Tuesday to discuss BHP’s intention to “contract out” 300 permanent jobs at the Blackwater coal mine, the CFMEU announced on Friday.
The discussion forum – to be chaired by Member for Mirani Jim Pearce – will look into the possible implications for Blackwater and surrounding communities arising from BHP’s decision to replace permanent jobs with contract jobs in order to save money on wages and legal entitlements.
CFMEU Mining and Energy District President Steve Smyth said the community must stand up to the mining giant and force the company to stop the casualisation of the workforce at Blackwater.
“This can’t be about party politics. Together as a community we need to pull together and talk about the impact of BHP’s announcement and the damage it would inflict on the people of Blackwater if it is allowed to proceed with its attacks,” Mr Smyth said.
“BHP is clearly looking for every opportunity to casualise and contract out the mining workforce in Australia which means less pay, worse conditions, a more hazardous workplace and compromised entitlements for the same work.”
BHP has blamed the falling coal prices for the changes to its policy, but Mr Smyth said the sharp decline in the Australian dollar was offsetting much of the impact.
“So the argument that they don’t need these workers is a smokescreen – its about replacing permanent jobs with contract jobs so they can pay lower wages and less legal entitlements,” he said.
He also rubbished BHP’s claim that the decision was not about cost but rather about productivity, saying the company refused to engage with workers from Blackwater and their representatives on finding alternatives to achieve the same supposed productivity gains.
“This is despite employees at the mine successfully meeting productivity improvements on at least three previous occasions when asked. This time BHP has decided it wants to get rid of them instead,” Mr Smyth added.
“We will stand up for local workers rights and our community’s welfare and anyone who will stand with us is welcome at this week’s forum whether they be Labor, Liberal, National, KAP, Green or other.”