BMA strikes resume as negotiations fail

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Workers at three BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance mines in Queensland have resumed strikes after failing to reach an agreement with management over pay and work conditions.

On Saturday strikes disrupted production at the coking coal operations, and CFMEU mining and energy Queensland president Stephen Smyth told Bloomberg action would continue until at least September 13.

He said the strikes may extend to BMA’s four other mines pending a member vote later this week.

“Strikes are continuing and now we are considering an escalation,” he said.

About 3,500 coal miners have been involved in rolling work stoppages on BMA sites since June.

On Friday unions met with the BMA but failed to reach an agreement, and a BHP spokesperson said while negotiations had stalled, it would allow workers to vote on its proposal at a meeting at the end of September.

“We have reached an impasse in negotiations,” she said.

“We are keen for employees to take the time in the coming weeks to review and understand the agreement in detail, before the end of September ballot.”

Last month BHP chief executive officer Marius Kloppers said the strikes have had a “modest impact” on production.

Last week a decision was handed down on BMA’s application for a total FIFO workforce at its Caval Ridge mine.

Co-ordinator general Keith Davies ruled that 80% of the staff must reside in the region, which still left the door open for a 100% FIFO workforce.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union accused the State Government of misleading the public on the ruling.

On Friday the WA branch of the CFMEU struck a deal with Woodside to ban strikes for seven years in return for the company suspending millions of dollars in fines against their members.

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