EBA secret ballot assured at Mt Arthur Coal

Concerns about the secrecy of enterprise bargaining agreement ballots at the Mount Arthur coal mine, raised by the CFMEU, have been answered by the out-sourced ballot overseer, Corpvote.

Spokesperson for the major union on site, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) Steve Mepham told the Newcastle Herald that a major concern for the 1100-plus workers about the ballot was that they had to register payroll numbers and birthdates to vote.

“The biggest concern is people don’t want Mount Arthur to know how they voted,” Mepham said.

“The voting company involved has advised us that can’t happen because confidentiality is assured, but there would be some people who would feel threatened because they have to identify themselves to vote.”

A spokesperson for Corpvote, Tim Jones, said confidentiality and anonymity of voting was the basis for work done by the company.

‘‘Any identification information is used to establish a person’s credentials, but it is separated before a person votes and is never associated with voting preference,’’ Jones said.

‘‘We have had concerns raised with us by other unions because it is a new process, but this is a very sound way of doing it.’’

A spokesperson for mine owner BHP Billiton said Mount Arthur Coal would not be provided with identifying information about employee voters, as Corpvote would not be supplied with employee names, and Mount Arthur Coal would only receive a report containing the number of votes supporting and rejecting the agreement.

The EBA voting system at Mt Arthur has come a long way from six years ago, when workers voted by a show of hands.

So far the CFMEU has rejected BHPs proposals for the new EBA, including an extension from four to five 12-hour shifts per week, a five per cent wage increase over three years, and removal of the last on/first off retrenchment system.

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