Kloppers slams Fair Work

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BHP Billiton boss Marius Kloppers says the Gillard Government’s Fair Work act has made it too easy for workers to strike and too difficult for miners to negotiate with unions.

In an interview with The Financial Review Kloppers said the legislation came at a difficult time for the industry, which was already suffering from skills shortages.

He said he was concerned Fair Work had made it too easy for workers to strike.

“It has broadened the range of issues that can be put on the table because the regulations around prohibited content are not the same,” he said.

“That means negotiations are more complex.”

Kloppers’s criticism follows claims by Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese earlier this week that Australia was following an “aggressive IR agenda”.

Albanese backed WA Premier Colin Barnett’s previous calls that industrial action in mining had been increasingly based on “trivial issues”.

Albanese said striking workers should keep in mind that Australian miners were paid double what their US counterparts were.

Industrial disputes in Australia are now at a seven year high, with BMA still embroiled in a six month battle with unions on its Queensland coal mines.

Earlier this week workers at Xstrata’s Ulan Coal project in NSW went on strike for 24 hours in action Xstrata said was illegal under the Fair Work Act.

The Government says the Fair Work Act protects against unfair dismissals and recognises the right of employees to be represented in the workplace.

It says the act is a fair safety net for minimum employment conditions and bargaining in good faith is set at the heart of the legislation.