CFMEU claims CQ miners to be locked out of Norwich Mine

THE CFMEU claims hundreds of central Queensland miners would be locked out of work at the soon-to-be reopened Norwich Park site.

The union yesterday said BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) was looking to source 340 cheaper workers from interstate for the mine; a move which would also drive wages down at other operations.

The company yesterday issued a vague statement in response to the union claims.

"In April 2012, BMA announced the cessation of production at Norwich Park Mine and recommencement of production would be subject to circumstances including an assessment of short and long-term options," the statement read.

The miners' union claims to have obtained an internal briefing paper prepared by a mining industry contractor outlining the terms under which the company is seeking to operate its Norwich Park mine, near Dysart.

The CFMEU alleged the briefing paper said: "BMA has strongly indicated that success of the project will be dependent on being able to operate the mine efficiently while using labour that is paid significantly less than is currently the case at surrounding existing operations.

"A strong desire has been expressed that labour should be sourced from lower paying areas outside of Queensland (Adelaide, Melbourne for example).

"They are likely to try and leverage off the labour model used at Norwich Park to generate lower cost labour models at their other operations."

The union said the paper suggested BHP intended to restart production in the mine in July, three years after it shut in May 2012, and use the lower wages at Norwich Park to drive wage-cutting at other operations.

CFMEU Mining and Energy general secretary Andrew Vickers said BHP's Queensland coal mines were profitable and efficient operations and could afford to provide good, permanent jobs to local workers.

Mr Vickers said it was clear BHP had closed Norwich Park as part of an industrial strategy to slash wages and deny jobs to local workers.

"Four hundred skilled Queensland mineworkers were put out of work when BHP closed Norwich Park in 2012," Mr Vickers said.

"Now it appears Queenslanders from Dysart or Moranbah or Mackay will have to relocate to Melbourne or Adelaide if they want to work at a local coal mine.

"It's no coincidence that BHP is now planning to reopen the mine exactly three years after closing it, to avoid legal requirements to hire back the local workers it ruthlessly dumped.

"This was always their plan.

"BHP is playing Queenslanders for fools - denying them the jobs and royalties they deserve from Queensland resources.

"Labor and the LNP must condemn this ruthless behaviour from BHP and demand the company stop discriminating against locals being employed in coal mines on their doorsteps."

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