After a 24-month campaign, workers of BHP Billiton have agreed to the company’s latest proposed enterprise agreement, a three year deal that covers crucial protections on safety, housing and rostering and boosts superannuation contributions.
Majority of BHP’s coalmine workers in Central Queensland, across the company’s five Bowen Basin mines, have manifested support for the offer. Sixty per cent of the workers gave their nod to the stipulations of the deal.
Stephen Smyth, distric president, expressed his appreciation of the union members’ unity amid the conflict despite BHP’s hardline approach.
“This deal maintains important protections and moderates the most extreme elements of BHP’s agenda,” said Smyth. “It could have been reached a year ago, had BHP not taken an ideological approach that prioritise picking a fight with its workforce over coming to a reasonable deal.”
Among the important provisions of the deal are: that the safety inspectors will be covered by the agreement; that flexibility will be highly considered in rostering, accepting that some workers prefer to commute by providing protections for those who reside locally and prefer family-friendly rosters; that local housing agreement will support families choosing to live in local towns; and that superannuation contributions will be up from nine to 12 per cent over the life of the agreement.
On the next level of negotiations, the union would turn its attention to further improving housing and rostering conditions, according to Smyth.
Furthermore, members of the union were disappointed with BHP’s failure to relinquish its approach of labour hiring and contracting workers, which have resulted in low compensations and inferior conditions for workers.
“It’s really disappointing to see BHP continue to cling to WorkChoices-era provisions for its contract labour force, given the company’s reliance on contractors across its operations,” Mr. Smyth said.