CFMEU claims Bowen Basin mines could be excluded from next BHP agreement

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The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) claims that BHP Mitsubishi is attempting to exclude four mines from the next Enterprise Agreement, targeting mining workers in Queensland’s Bowen Basin to cut costs and improve productivity.

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In a media release, the Union said that BHP Billiton’s joint venture company BMA intends to separate workers at the Blackwater mine in the Bowen Basin, which it operates with Japanese steel producer Mitsubishi, from a broader agreement that currently applies across six mines.

The current agreement was negotiated and implemented in 2012 and expires on the 26th of this month.

“This would set a very dangerous precedent for the mining workforce and Queensland workers possibly creating ‘second class’ mining communities with lower rates of pay, conditions and entitlements. The Bowen Basin is now the front line in the fight against mining companies drive to strip away the working conditions and entitlements and bring US style working conditions to this country,” said CFMEU Mining and Energy District President Steve Smyth.

“BHP has not identified to the Union any reasonable basis for Blackwater Mine to be excluded from the new agreement. We will not leave Blackwater workers, families and the community out in the cold. I know Blackwater is hurting after the BMA announced 300 permanent jobs would go at Blackwater, but the community are tough and they have more fight in them than BMA think.”

Mr Smyth also “flagged suspicion” about the BMA’s intention to exclude Gregory Crinum and Norwich Park mines from any new enterprise agreement.

“We believe that BHP may seek to continue operations or re-open those mines in the future, after seeking to exclude them from any new enterprise agreement, in an attempt to avoid legal protections and entitlements provided for in an enterprise agreement,” he said.

“The Bowen Basin Enterprise Agreement should cover the same mine sites and employees as the existing agreement. Make no mistake, BHP Mitsubishi Alliance have the mother of all fights on their hands.”