BMA ballot fails, unions call for more strikes

BMA proposed enterprise agreement ballot has been voted down by workers, as unions serve the miner with a notice for more strikes.

This is the second rejection of a proposed work agreement from the miner, and comes as the ACTU announces it support of the union's action.

According to the CFMEU, the AEC says more than 82% of miners voted against the latest workplace agreement, a drop from the previous 92% who voted against the last EA proposal.

CFMEU district president Steve Smyth said this demonstrates that BHP is out of touch with its workers.

"BHP should take a good hard look at these figures and realise that it needs to start working with its employees rather than trying to take things away from them."

He also criticised the miner after a number of workers failed to receive their ballots.

"On top of all that we get BHP chairman Jacques Nasser last week saying Australian workers are treated too well," Smyth said.

"No wonder Jac wants to change workplace laws, his company keeps getting caught out for ignoring them."

Smyth was referring to Nasser's address at the Australian Institute of Company Directors lunch where Nasser discussed issues affecting the miner -both industrial relations as well as governmental issues.

"In recent years, it's hard not to feel as if our industrial relations system has been like a pendulum, swinging from one approach to another," he said.

It came after close to 18 months of constant industrial action at BHP's joint venture BMA coal mines in Queensland, which has caused a significant slump in the miner's coal output and also contributed to its forced closure of the Norwich Park coal mine.

"I am not casting blame here, either at management, the government, unions, or the workforce. I basically believe the framework is just not appropriate and doesn't recognise today's realities," Nasser said.

"It is imperative for companies to have the ability to be represented but it also recognizes the right of management to run the business without the constant threat of a veto over operational decision making."

When asked by Australian Mining his view on the BMA union action in particular and its effect on the miner's coal output, Nasser said the industrial action doesn't help".

"It has been 17 months of constant issues when really it should be growing in this time of strength.

"It is perplexing and I am trying to understand why it is ongoing at time like this," Nasser told Australian Mining.

"While BHP respects the roles of unions in the industrial relations landscape…we do not believe that the influence of unions should be disproportionate to the level of union membership which today accounts four around 15% of employees in Australia's private sector."

Following this latest failure of the EA proposal, the CFMEU announced that it has "served BHP with notices for industrial action to commence from next Thursday (24/5) for seven days across all Bowen Basin coalmines.

"The ball is in BMA's court now, we're more than happy to go back to the negotiating table again," Smyth said.

It was understood the cost of the strikes to the company would be significant.

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