Union adamant: it’s not about pay

The CFMEU has hit out at the Federal Government over the ongoing enterprise agreement dispute with BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, stating the main issues do not centre around pay rises.

As Australian Mining reported yesterday, Resources Minister Martin Ferguson warned unions that mining companies were struggling with costs and that ‘low risk’ environments were needed in order for sustained growth in the sector.

"Governments, industry and unions alike must recognise that the days of record high commodity prices are behind us," he said.

"The price of iron ore and coal, are, roughly speaking, all about half what they were a year ago."

The speech by Ferguson comes after he was quoted on the weekend saying that the proposed pay rise of 5% over three years was ‘not a bad increase’.

"The potential outcome for workers is something in the order of 5%," Ferguson said.

"It's 15% over three (years) … with a rate of inflation under 2%, that's not a bad increase in take-home pay."

However CFMEU president Stephen Smyth has said the dispute has always been about workers’concerns and not pay, CQ News reported.

"Workers will continue to fight for the future of their mining communities, whether that's maintaining family-friendly rosters, accessible accommodation in towns with skyrocketing house prices, or fighting to protect union roles in safety at the coalface," Smyth said.

Smyth went on to say that Ferguson’s speech was not helpful in resolving the dispute.

For close to two years the CFMEU and the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance have failed to reach a middle ground in the enterprise agreements for workers at BMA coal mines across the Bowen Basin.

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