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BHP pushes vote on Central Agreement rollover

July 26, 2021

Mineworkers across BHP’s Bowen Basin coal mines are expected to roundly reject BHP’s proposal to avoid bargaining for a new BMA Central Enterprise Agreement and simply roll over the current Agreement for four years.

With just four of eight scheduled bargaining meetings taking place, BHP has ignored union efforts to improve job security provisions in the Agreement.

The BMA Central Agreement is the largest and most comprehensive Agreement in Queensland coal covering Peak Downs, Blackwater, Goonyella Riverside and Saraji (as well as Gregory, Crinum and Norwich Park which are currently not operational).

The Agreement has been forged over more than four decades of struggle by unionised Bowen Basin coal miners – catch up on the history on our latest podcast:

BHP has flagged it will conduct a vote from August 10 to 16.

Our bargaining team, which includes representatives from each Lodge, has proposed a series of measures to boost job security and increase permanent job numbers.

They include:

  • guaranteed permanent job numbers for the duration of the EA to stem the decline of permanent jobs
  • stronger redundancy protections
  • preference for new starters to be employed under the Enterprise Agreement.

A survey of members showed 96% wanted stronger job security provisions, reflecting concern over automation and the continued growth of labour hire including BHP’s own Operations Services.

Queensland District President Stephen Smyth urged all members to participate in the ballot and to vote ‘no’.

“We are proud of what this agreement has delivered for mineworkers and communities for decades. But it always needs to respond to the challenges of the times.

“The job security crisis is the biggest challenge we currently face in the coal mining industry. Twenty years ago, nearly all our jobs were permanent. Now, contractors outnumber permanents and it’s impossible to get a permanent start.

“BHP has been one of the biggest offenders. They have a responsibility to their workforce and communities to do the right thing and provide permanent, secure employment.

“I expect workers will send BHP a strong message that they want genuine bargaining, they want job security and they want a better deal.

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