CFMEU heads to Fair Work to halt BMA ballot

The CFMEU has applied to Fair Work Australia to halt a postal ballot for BMA workers regarding a new workplace agreement.

According to the mining union, hundreds of workers have not yet received the information packs outlining the details proposed agreement, CFMEU general secretary Andrew Vickers said.

"Under Fair Work laws, employees should have the information about a proposed agreement for seven days before a vote begins," it said.

"Many of our member haven’t received the information pack sent out by BHP, which means they also won’t get the ballot in the post," Vickers added.

The ballot for a new agreement – designed to replace the existing workplace agreement from 2007 – is due to begin on Friday.

Vickers stated that "we have grave concerns that many of our members will not have the opportunity to vote in this very important ballot about the future of their work conditions.

"Postal ballots have a poor track record of participation. Site ballots are the method mine workers are used to participating in. The postal service is notoriously slow and unreliable in central Queensland, for a ballot as important as this one we need to maximise participation – not rush through a hit and miss postal ballot that will leave many employees unable to have their say."

The CFMEU is seeking the current ballot, which will run from 13 to 30 April, to be called off until the miner meets its representatives to conclude negotiations and consult over the ballot process.

This latest action comes as miners announce a series of strikes from Thursday night until Saturday.

Last week workers across BMA’s seven coal mines voted to carry out further strikes.

At mass meetings at Moranbah, Emerald, Dysart, and Blackwater miners rejected BMA’s latest offer and will instead hold another week’s worth of strikes "to protest the company reneging on key in-principle agreement", the CMFEU says.

According to CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth "workers were furious at the company after management went back on its word during negotiations on important rostering issues".

However this has been rejected by BMA, which was recently forced to declare force majeure due to a heavy wet season and continuing industrial action.

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