BMA ballots go to workers

A postal ballot for BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance miners’ (BMA) new enterprise agreement will go out today.

The postal ballot is a win for the miner after the CFMEU approached Fair Work Australia to halt the ballot, News.com.au reports.

According to the mining union, hundreds of workers have not yet received the information packs outlining the details proposed agreement, CFMEU general secretary Andrew Vickers said.

"Under Fair Work laws, employees should have the information about a proposed agreement for seven days before a vote begins," it said.

"Many of our member haven’t received the information pack sent out by BHP, which means they also won’t get the ballot in the post," Vickers added.

The ballot for a new agreement is designed to replace the existing workplace agreement from 2007.

Vickers stated that "we have grave concerns that many of our members will not have the opportunity to vote in this very important ballot about the future of their work conditions.

Fair Work did grant a one week postponement of the ballot, which will be held from 27 April to 18 May.

BHP, which runs the joint venture BMA mines, said it was happy to finally send out the ballot, adding that it is aiming to resolve the long running industrial action issues on site.

"We have always been willing to explore solutions that meet our needs and theirs," BMA asset president Stephen Dumble said.

He went on to say that the CFMEU had misrepresented the company a number of times, and even become physically violent, with members throwing rocks at cars.

Dumble added that there was also no ‘Dubai option’ for Norwich Park, referring CFMEU district president Steve Smyth’s comments yesterday following the highlighting of an ad for new workers at the coal mine, despite its closure.

It came after workers saw an online ad for two year positions at the mine ‘starting immediately’, adding that it provided ‘the security of a long term position’.

It is reported one of Norwich Park’s current workers found the ad and applied, and was asked to bring in his resume.

BHP has outright denied that it is still advertising for miners at Norwich Park.

It stated that the advertisement was posted two weeks ago and the agency would have been unaware the mine was soon to close.

The ad has since been removed, as have others online ads for jobs at the mine.

"To claim that we would compromise our reputation by saying one thing and doing another defies belief," Dumble said.

"I’m happy to come back in 12 months and we will see then who was telling the truth."

Dumble went on to attack the unions, after saying BMA had previoulsy asked the CFMEU to exempt Norwich Park from industrial action to aid its sustainability – but that this was rejected.

It’s difficult to negotiate with people who have different views even among themselves," he added.

Industrial action has been ongoing across BMA’s Bowen Basin coal mines since mid last year.