BMA union talks stagnate

Mediation has failed between coal miner BMA and the mining union.

It comes only days after mediation talks between the two finished, and BMA's announcement that it will close the Gregory Crinum open cut coal mine.

The two groups initially announced they were entering into the sessions in early July.

For close to two years the CFMEU and the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance have failed to reach a middle ground in the enterprise agreements for workers at BMA coal mines across the Bowen Basin.

While relations between the two groups warmed following the mediation sessions, they again turned frosty after BMA announced it would close the Gregory coal mine in October.

Unions were immediately on the attack.

The CFMEUpointed the finger at BMA's "ruthless management", saying it was the real reason for the closure.
It added that it was not given any prior warning of the closure.

“The company has not been transparent with its workforce while they’re staring down the barrel of losing their jobs – this is no way to win their trust,” CFMEU district president Steve Smyth said.

The announcement is an example of the management philosophy driven by CEO Marius Kloppers that a mine is to be shut down if there is any temporary slump in profitability.

“BHP management just see these mines as money factories. If an operation starts to lose any money, even if it’s over a short-term issue, they will shut the mine down regardless of the impact on jobs and communities."

Now negotiations to end the long running coal strikes are again stalling, according to the ABC.

At the most recent meeting on Tuesday, Smyth said CFMEU delegates rejected BMA's latest offer wholesale, stating that CFMEU representatives did not 'need' to take offer back to workers.

"These guys are representatives of all three unions at all six mines and they're the guys on the job who work with the members – and they're members themselves," he said.

"They've made it very clear, just those guys, about what's currently on the table.

"I can't go into the particulars but they've made it very clear to us and we've directed it back to BHP, so we're just waiting for a response."

The same sticking points have again stymied talks, Smyth saying "some of the matters are in relation to the main agreement and others are to do with the local matters of housing and schedules and they apply across all six mines.

"At the end of the day, the guys made it very clear to a man that was there, unanimously that what's on the table isn't acceptable, so the ball's in BHP's court now."