BMA say no forced redundancies at Blackwater

No forced redundancies will result from structural staff changes at the Blackwater coal mine, according to operator BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA).

In August BMA announced a round of redundancies which would see 300 full time staff replaced by contract workers employed by Downer EDI.

Downer won two contracts for services at the Blackwater Mine worth $225 million, which will run for three years.

After a community meeting on Tuesday night which was convened by the CFMEU and attended by Member for Mirani Jim Pearce, BMA released a statement which said challenging market conditions and “the quality of Blackwater Mine’s coal” had put the operation at risk of being unviable.

"As such, an immediate step change in operational cost and productivity, over and above the savings that have been achieved at the mine, is needed,” the statement said.

"Immediately following the announcement to contract additional work with Downer Group, BMA has engaged in formal consultation with its employees and their representatives regarding the implementation of this decision. 

"BMA urges the EA employees and their representatives to actively participate in the consultation process to bring certainty to our employees and the Blackwater community. 

"BMA reiterates that the decision to award contracts to Downer will not result in any forced redundancies. 

"BMA is discussing with its employees and their representatives a range of options, including redeployment opportunities within the Blackwater Mine and transferring to another of BMA mines. 

"The net result of this, is the reduction of casual labour within BMA's operations."

The community meeting on Tuesday night was attended by around 1000 workers, families and union members saw

Queensland Council of Unions assistant general secretary Ros McLennan compared BMA to parasites that were sucking towns dry in each community, and said no town was safe from casualisation of the workforce.

"If they succeed in Blackwater no regional Queensland town is safe,” she said.

“It's no option to redeploy and go to another town, because if they succeed in screwing down working conditions and wages on Blackwater, if they succeed in moving from permanent jobs to casual jobs here, they'll do it in Moranbah, they'll do it in Dysart, they'll do it everywhere in regional Australian, won't they?”

CFMEU district president Steve Smyth said the issue required government intervention to legislate worker protections.

"They say they're not sacking them, but they're sacking 300 permanent workers to simply replace them with labour hire, cheaper more compliant workers who will have no opportunity to live here other than live in single person's accommodation," he said.

"When you take away where an individual or a worker has the right and the protections of being a permanent employee … they're not game to put their hand up or raise safety concerns because their boss will say 'guess what, mate, don't come in tomorrow'."

A BMA spokesman said no representatives from the company attended the meeting because they were in formal consultation with employees and their representatives.

Image: The Morning Bulletin

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