FORECAST: GPC boss believes the price of coal won't keep rising.
FORECAST: GPC boss believes the price of coal won't keep rising. Lee Constable

Coal company expects US style conditions in CQ: union

QUEENSLAND'S coal mining union says BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) have gone too far in attempts to cut costs as part of the Enterprise Agreement negotiations for the Bowen Basin.

It comes only months after the company tried to exclude the Blackwater mine, from the wider Enterprise Agreement for the region, which would create a two-tiered system of pay, conditions, and entitlements for workers.

CFMEU Mining and Energy District President Steve Smyth said the union has been fair and open in negotiations, despite BMA's position.

"BHP Mitsubishi are seeing just how far they can push local mines and strip away working conditions and entitlements to bring US style conditions to Australia," Mr Smyth said.

"The CFMEU has been bargaining in good faith with BHP Mitsubishi, and will continue to do so, but the company must be willing to provide reasonable proposals about conditions and entitlements.

"There are uncertain times ahead for the industry and we have been cooperative in forgoing pay increases in exchange for commitments around security of employment, recognition of entitlements, and continued protection of health and safety at work.

"But BHP Mitsubishi say they need more flexibility and to simplify operations, which is just code for stripping away of conditions and paving the way for more job cuts.

"This company has made money hand over fist in Australia on the back of their hard working employees and we expect that to be respected in an ongoing and fair commitment to their workforce."

While Mr Smyth acknowledged the mining industry is under strain, he said BHP was taking that as an opportunity to push the boundaries and get whatever they think they can.

"Coalmine workers know as well as anyone that the industry is facing troubles, from coal prices, capital divestment and mine closures, but BHP Mitsubishi mines are still very profitable.

"Workers want to do their part, but we need a fair go and we will not accept any deal which leaves them and their families ripped off by a company simply trying to scrap for every dollar of profit it can get."

The union says it will protect entitlements and conditions currently under threat to ensure they are maintained in the agreement and not weakened by moving them to internal company policies, and will also challenge any proposal to change superannuation entitlements.

A response has been sought from the company.

BHP spokesman's response: 

In October 2015 BMA commenced the process of renegotiating the BMA Enterprise Agreement that covers more than 2000 employees at five of its Bowen Basin mines.

Since then, BMA has been meeting with employees and their representatives to discuss its priorities which include delivering cost efficiencies and safe productivity improvements, through a simplified agreement.

As part of this, BMA is seeking that neither Gregory Crinum underground mine, nor Norwich Park mine, be covered as both mines are in care and maintenance and are no longer operational.

BMA is seeking a separate Enterprise Agreement to cover the Blackwater Mine given the unique infrastructure, logistical and resource challenges Blackwater Mine faces.

Through the bargaining conducted so far, claims have been tabled and BMA has also tabled two draft agreements.

We are continuing to meet with our employees and their representatives as part of the ongoing bargaining.

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