Concerns rise over cut BMA miners mental health

The Queensland mining community have fears over the mental health of those workers who lost their jobs in the BMA Blackwater mining cuts. 

Last month BMA announced a round of redundancies which will see 300 full time staff replaced by contract workers employed by Downer EDI.

“BHP wanted to remove full time, permanent employees who live locally and replace them with contractors who have no job security; will receive less pay; and have inferior working conditions compared to current BHP employees under their enterprise agreement,” Steve Smyth, CFMEU Mining and Energy district president, said.

Smyth said the issue required government intervention to legislate worker protections.

"They say they're not sacking them, but they're sacking 300 permanent workers to simply replace them with labour hire, cheaper more compliant workers who will have no opportunity to live here other than live in single person's accommodation."

A community meeting was held where around 1000 workers, families and union member gathered in support of the sacked workers in Blackwater and voted to fight the decision.

Queensland Council of Unions assistant general secretary Ros McLennan compared BMA to parasites that were sucking towns dry and said no town was safe from casualisation of the workforce. 

A BMA spokesman said no representatives from the company attended the meeting because they were in formal consultation with employees and their representatives.

Smyth dismissed BMA's commitment to helping workers transition, adding that it will have safety repercussions. 

"When you take away where an individual or a worker has the right and the protections of being a permanent employee … they're not game to put their hand up or raise safety concerns because their boss will say 'guess what, mate, don't come in tomorrow, Smyth said. 

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

As a result of the redundancies locals fear the worst as residents struggle to come to terms with the loss of income.

Blackwater residents say they have to leave they will leave together as a community, Vere Storch said in an interview with the ABC. 

George Christensen, the member for Dawson pledged to work with unions to find proof that job casualisation had a negative impact on communities.

"I am calling on people who have evidence of full-time jobs that have been casualised within the industry to come forward with evidence so we can present it to the Fair Work Commission," he said.

"We can't go and get this changed on the basis of stories. We need hard proof.”

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.