CFMEU claims BMA miners denied right to vote

The CFMEU has raised worries with the Australian Electoral Commission over BHP Billiton's ballot for its BMA coal miners after 154 workers claim they have not received voting papers.

Late last month BHP sent out a postal ballot for BMA miners to vote on a new enterprise agreement following more than a year of continual industrial action.

At the time, the CFMEU raised concerns over the ability of the ballot to reach all workers before the vote began, going to Fair Work Australia to halt the vote.

However Fair Work Australia rejected the motion from the CFMEU and allowed the miner to send out the postal ballots, although it did extend the deadline by a week to 18 May.

BMA said that it was hoping to end the long running industrial dispute.

Now the CFMEU claim that more than 150 workers have not received their voting papers.

"One hundred and fifty four workers have confirmed with the Single Bargaining Unit (SBU) that they are yet to receive a ballot pack but the CFMEU believes the total number could be much higher," CFMEU district president Steve Smyth said.

"Our concerns about the actual agreement aside, the SBU is shocked by the number of workers being denied their legal right to vote on conditions at their workplace because BHP can't send mail to its employees properly.

"I've even been told by employees who requested a voting form that the company's HR department told them it was the union's, not BHP's, responsibility to provide forms, which is rubbish," Smyth stated.

However, BMA has rejected this saying it wants all employees to have a voice and has contacted those affected workers, the ABC reports.

Representatives from the Australian Electoral Commission handed out ballot papers in Moranbah and Emerald yesterday and today.

This latest spat comes as the CFMEU accuses BMA of secret plans to restart its Norwich Park coal mine, which officially closed earlier this month.

The CFMEU said it had obtained a document that indicated BMA had a five year plan to restart operations at Norwich Park with different employees.

CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth said BMA needed to "come clean" on its plan for the mine and its staff.

"Workers already held fears that BHP's decision to close Norwich Park may not have been purely for the operational reasons the company cited," he said.

"Having a document turn up apparently showing BHP has a five-year plan to employ new workers at a mine that is supposed to be closed in eight days does nothing to allay these fears."

BHP was not available for comment late yesterday but told reporters there was no plan to reopen Norwich Park.

The company said the reasons for the mine's closure were made public after the initial announcement was made and have remained unchanged.

BHP said the union's comments were the "latest attempt to mislead BMA's employees" and needed to be viewed in the context of other union battles in the Bowen Basin.

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