November 20, 2023
Iron train drivers in the Pilbara have given notice to BHP that they will begin industrial action this Friday.
Mining and Energy Union WA Secretary Greg Busson said drivers had endorsed a range of actions and were beginning their campaign with bans on use of the company’s mobile app for rostering. The ban means drivers’ rosters will not be able to be unilaterally changed by management electronically, without being personally contacted and informed.
“Drivers are beginning with a measured and targeted action,” said Mr Busson.
“It’s fantastic to see workers getting organised and taking collective action after the extreme efforts of the mining companies to deunionise the Pilbara.
“Drivers are seeking a comprehensive Enterprise Agreement which ensures they will be consulted about key changes and their terms of employment can be enforced, with access to arbitration. They also want transparency and fairness around pay and conditions for all drivers.
“Train drivers bent over backwards to ensure the Pilbara iron ore industry continued operating during the upheaval of Covid, often at enormous personal cost to themselves and their families.
“They are not prepared to return to business as usual where BHP dictates their working conditions without listening to the workforce, while raking in massive profits.”
MEU and BHP Iron Ore have been bargaining for nearly two years for a replacement for the BHP Billiton Iron Ore Locomotive Drivers Agreement 2014.
The agreement covers about 500 drivers who operate trains carrying iron ore from BHP’s Pilbara mines around Newman to Port Hedland.
In a protected action ballot held from 18-25 October, 95% voted yes to a range of measures including work stoppages, speed reductions and a range of work bans.