Digging in: Unions kick off campaign against BHP with stoppages

BHP’s troubles have grown with the powerful Mining and Energy Union starting industrial action at four central Queensland mines today with five-hour work stoppages.

Nov 04, 2022, updated Nov 04, 2022
The Mining and Energy Union will start action today

The Mining and Energy Union will start action today

The dispute follows on from a huge hike in coal royalties by the State Government which led to the company announcing a capital spending freeze at its BMA joint venture mines.

The mining giant said it had tabled a package that contained industry-leading conditions, job security protections and measures that keep its operations safe, productive and sustainable.

The union is seeking protections for Enterprise Agreement jobs, maintaining a multi-skilled workforce with consistent pay rates and protections from permanent jobs being replaced by Operations Services and other labour hire companies.

Labour hire is a central issue for the unions.

The mines affected were Blackwater, Saraji, Peak Downs and Goonyella Riverside.

The union would impose bans on overtime and step-up duties.

“In addition, Mining and Energy Union members at Peak Downs and Goonyella Riverside will take five-hour stoppages on Friday 4 November from 3 to 8pm. The stoppages are timed to facilitate attendance at the Moranbah Miners Memorial event,” the union said. 

MEU Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said protected action would be strategic, measured and responsive to BHP’s willingness to address members’ job security concerns. 

 “With coal prices so high there is constant pressure to maintain and increase production, so we are confident our bans and stoppages will be felt,” Smyth said.  

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 “We are continuing our dialogue with BHP to work through members’ concerns about protecting current and future permanent jobs. We will have no hesitation in ramping up our industrial campaign if members feel that progress is not being made.” 

BHP said it was disappointed by the action which it said would not result in a quicker outcome.

“The best way forward is to continue negotiations and focus on reaching agreement,” a spokesman said.

“We have tabled a package that contains industry-leading conditions, job security protections and measures that keep our operations safe, productive and sustainable.

“We remain committed to constructive bargaining and reaching an agreement as quickly as possible, through continuing negotiations with the Fair Work Commission.”

The company claims that the demands from the unions would be met by its proposals and included job security measures.

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