CFMEU claims all BMA coal jobs at risk

All permanent local jobs with BHP in Central Queensland are under threat, the CFMEU claims.

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) has refused to rule out contracting its entire permanent workforce as it’s Bowen Basin coal mine including Peak Downs, Saraji, and Goonyella Riverside.

This comes just under a month after BMA announced over 300 full time jobs would be cut at the Blackwater coal mine, where they intended to replace fulltime workers with contractors.

The miner awarded two contracts for mining operations at the site to Downer, worth $225 million, and set to run over three years.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland district president Steve Smyth said, “The Company’s recent move to casualise the workforce at its Blackwater mine could be the beginning of BHP’s plans to contract out all permanent work in Central Queensland.”

Queensland Council of Unions assistant general secretary Ros McLennan compared BMA to parasites.

“If they succeed in Blackwater no regional Queensland town is safe,” McLennan added.

“We’ve approached BHP directly to ask them about their plans for their remaining permanent employees across the Bowen Basin and they have refused to give an answer,” he said.

When BHP were contacted they declined to comment, however they have previously stated that while all operations are review, there will be no forced redundancies.

BMA’s previous statement explained that 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."

Concerns for miners and their families in Central Queensland are growing, and fear has started to set in as they prepare for possible redundancies.

“If BHP had any respect for its current employees or the communities near its coalmines it would give its remaining employees peace of mind and rule out casualising the workforce at its other Bowen Basin mines,” Smyth said.

“We’re calling on BHP to show some loyalty to its workforce and immediately rule out further casualisation of its local workforce in Bowen Basin.”

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