Fourth lock out in as many weeks for BHP workers

BHP has again locked mining supervisors out of its Appin coal mine over an ongoing pay dispute.

The workers were locked out of full shifts on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday of last week, with the final locked out shift expected to begin today.

The Association of Professional Engineers Scientist and Managers Australia (APESMA) director Catherine Bolger said BHP imposed the lock outs after supervisors notified the company of their plans to hold four 90-minute stop work meetings this week.

“BHP are using strong arm tactics, when there is no need. They are locking out workers for a full shift, which can be between 10.5 hours to 12 hours 45 minutes, instead of workers holding a short 90-minute stop work meeting,” Bolger said.

“BHP has hit the panic button and imposed a lockout that will make this dispute harder to resolve, disrupt the mine and affect a wider workforce – when the alternative was simply for a small group of workers to hold short stop work meetings on each shift.”

The supervisors have carried out a series of strikes since late last year, when fifty supervisors walked off the job in a long running pay disputes.

The workers' are fighting for a pay increase of 18 per cent to align with ‘market adjustments’ as well as a 4 per cent rise each year as part of a new enterprise agreement.

“These mining supervisors were simply trying to meet and discuss their options in this dispute. BHP wouldn’t allow these supervisors to hold the meeting while they are working, so supervisors rightly sought to hold short stop work meetings. Imposing a lockout is a gross overreaction by BHP.”

President of Illawarra Coal Troy McDonald has previously stated the miners’ demands were unreasonable.

‘This is clearly not a reasonable demand especially in the current challenging environment in the coal industry with falling prices and a high Australian dollar,’’ he said.

‘[The] Appin Mine supervisors’ base salaries have increased more than 18 per cent over the past four years including an average increase of five per cent in September this year.’’

Image: Martin Winter

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