BMA, union meeting ahead of strikes

Unions and officials from BMA met yesterday in the latest development in the long running enterprise bargaining dispute.

The meeting comes after a leaked email from BHP Billiton (a joint venture partner in the mine) stated that the dispute was non-negotiable– "not now, not next month, and not next year".

In a statement CFMEU president Tony Maher said the email showed BHP was "never prepared to listen to its workers in Central Queensland".

"This shows the company went in with a strategy to purposely ignore its workforce, to enter negotiations with no intention whatsoever of listening to employee concerns," he said.

But BHP told Australian Mining it was committed to negotiating with the union and had already made progress on most of the concerns.

"We have had numerous meetings with the unions over a period of more than a year and have resolved the overwhelming majority of issues during this time," it said.

BHP said most of the remaining issues in the dispute were not related to workers but to areas where unions wanted to extend their power.

It said it would not negotiate on these matters and this had long been its position.

 Despite this, meetings will still take place ahead of another week of rolling stoppages across BMA coal mines.

CFMEU district president Steve Smyth said the meetings will go ahead, the ABC reported.

We’ve got notices in, as part of ongoing, protected industrial action and as part of this negotiation but obviously that’s all set in the minds for seven days so that’s our position at this stage," he said.

"That’s what the members have supported at this stage and we’re obviously open to the views of the company, as far as what they think they need to do to get the agreement talks back on track.

"The view is that the week-long stoppages will be undertaken but obviously as though with any negotiations or any talks, everything’s on the table to be discussed but at this stage we’ve got those notices in and that’s our plan but obviously, as I said, I’m optimistic and we’re open to hopefully there’ll be some favourable outcomes with these talks."


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