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BHP Billiton has dismissed claims by the Construction, Forestry, Mining, and Energy Union that a leaked e-mail shows it was not negotiating in good faith over the BMA strikes.
According to the ABC BHP Billiton coal CEO Marcus Randolph said in an email the battle with unions on BMA’s Queensland coal mines was "the fight we had to have".
In the e-mail Randolph allegedly claimed the dispute was nonnegotiable — "not now, not next month, and not next year," he said.
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.
"The company cannot, and will not, diminish its rights and obligations to manage the business, nor will we accept productivity-destroying arrangements as currently proposed by the unions," it said.
"Strike action will not change our position, as has been the case for the past eight months."
BHP told Australian Mining it had offered a 5 per cent pay rise each year for the next three years and a "guaranteed $15,000 per year bonus".
"There are few offers in Australia that would match the BMA offer presently on the table," it said.