Money

Coalminer strike could last a week

A coalminer strike threatens to hobble BHP Billiton’s Bowen Basin operations.
A coalminer strike threatens to hobble BHP Billiton’s Bowen Basin operations. Peter Holt

THE coalminer strike that threatens to hobble BHP Billiton's Bowen Basin operations could last a week if nothing changes.

A trio of the industry's most powerful unions - the CFMEU, AMWU and ETU - have been in hard-fought negotiations with the BMA arm of the mining giant for about 16 months.

But a change of tact by BMA had roster arrangements brought back into the fray and workers have left the coalface.

According to the union, up to 90% of BMA's workforce in Central Queensland are members of these unions and involved in the strike action.

Company management and sub-contractors however may still be operating on site, although some may opt not to cross the picket lines.

Each of BMA's seven mines in the Bowen Basin - west of Mackay and Rockhampton - are affected.

These are Goonyella Riverside, Broadmeadow, Peak Downs, Saraji, Norwich Park, Gregory Crinum and Blackwater.

CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth said it will hold meetings with delegates on Friday ahead of meetings with workers next week.

From there, the action could be extended.

"The level of contempt (BHP) is showing for their workers is astonishing," Mr Smythe said.

"I think their behaviour is disingenous and deceitful.

"It's now very clear that BHP's corporate headquarters are calling the shots and they seem unconcerned about safety or family-friendly rosters.

"For them it's just ensuring they can squeeze all they can from this mining boom ahead of all else.

Workers walked from the site at 6pm Tuesday following a lunchtime decision to withdraw labour.

This dispute has little to do with the wages of those in the mining industry, with the unions explaining it was about safety concerns, rostering and a "fair deal" for mine sub-contractors.

Up for discussion is whether safety inspector roles should be filled by the mine's managers.

This has traditionally been the domain of the unions, which are now concerned that productivity targets from above could cloud the judgement of these new inspectors.

The unions also believe that BHP is trying to strong-arm its heavily-unionised Queensland workers so their Western Australian counterparts do not fight for the same rights.

BMA president Stephen Dumble said it would take the negotiation straight to the workers in an employee ballot.

"We want to build a business focused on the future with more opportunity and choice for our employees," Mr Dumble said.

"The benefits of the agreement are competitive and provide a pathway to a better future.

"BMA will be asking employees to judge whether the agreement provides a fair and competitive outcome for them, their families and their future."

Topics:  amwu, bhp, bowen basin, cfmeu, etu, strike


Join the Community.

Get your local news, your way.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Corinn bids the Whitsunday farewell

Corinn Stickland, the popular admin of Whitsundays Amateur Photography page on Facebook is leaving the Whitsundays to start a new adventure up north.

Corinn Stickland is well known in the community

You're invited to the Relay for Life Dinner

You're invited to the Relay for Life Dinner and Charity Auction

Throw away the key

BEHIND BARS: Ralph Hill, Tasman Desmond, Ron Petterson, Angela Woods and Megan Williams under the guard of John Dickinson.

Throw away the key

Latest deals and offers

Wintermoon Festival turns on a show for 20th year

THE 20th annual Wintermoon Festival has attracted a large crowd this year, with camping faciltities completely sold out.

Strange Politics: Peter Dutton treats refugees like rubbish

Strange Politics: Immigration Minister Peter Dutton makes an awful neighbour.

My mad old bin-phobic neighbour's kindred spirit in Peter Dutton

Corinn bids the Whitsunday farewell

Corinn Stickland, the popular admin of Whitsundays Amateur Photography page on Facebook is leaving the Whitsundays to start a new adventure up north.

Corinn Stickland is well known in the community

You're invited to the Relay for Life Dinner

You're invited to the Relay for Life Dinner and Charity Auction

Throw away the key

BEHIND BARS: Ralph Hill, Tasman Desmond, Ron Petterson, Angela Woods and Megan Williams under the guard of John Dickinson.

Throw away the key

Girl in paradise video evokes Airlie pride

World traveller Nina Wilson, who grew up in the Whitsundays, has made a video showing off the region.

Video captures the beauty of the Whitsundays

What's on in the region this long weekend?

Wintermoon Music Festival, Camerons Pocket, April 30th- May 3rd, 2015. Photo Lee Constable / Daily Mercury

Take a look at what's on in the region this long weekend.

Wintermoon Festival

Ruby Irving and Rosie Pyrospirals having fun at Wintermoon.Photo Peter Carruthers / Whitsunday Times

Music festival turns 20 years old.

Dress up and help raise funds for cancer research

Maureen and Ivan Conway are encouraging locals to help fundraise for Relay for Life...

Girl in paradise: Whitsundays video

Nina Wilson made a video capturing the beauty of the Whitsundays, where she was...

Demand for acreage lots pushes up property prices

Property values in Cooroy have increased 25%

Property values jump in Cooroy and Peachester.

How a sacked real estate agent made $725k in four months

Agent is now under investigation by the industry watchdog

RBA warns of future apartment oversupply

Toowoomba: Crest Apartments and Burke & Wills, Ruthven Street ( view from Neil Street) Photo Bev Lacey / The Chronicle

RBA says oversupply of apartments poses risk to household finances