The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Engineering Union (CFMEU) foresees the prolonged labour dispute at the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) at the Bowen Basin coal mines may last longer, possibly until the end of April.
An office worker stands in the foyer of the BHP Billiton head office in central Melbourne
CFMEU District President Stephen Smyth confirmed that more strikes would take place this week while the negotiations for a new enterprise agreement between BMA and the workers drag on for more than 16 months.
Mr Smyth said beginning Thursday night until the Saturday day shift, there would be about 36 hours of work stoppages at seven mines. It combines a direct strike and rolling stoppages at different times.
He justified the industrial action because of BMA's not fulfilling several terms of the new agreement.
The miners sought public understanding for the industrial action and insisted that they are not greedy for more money since the issue is not about higher pay but more on work conditions such as workers' power to reject the unpopular rosters and BMA's obligation to help make available suitable accommodation for their families. The miners pointed out that rentals in the area have risen to $1,500 a week.
Rather than bring the proposed enterprise agreement to the CFMEU, BMA brought the deal to a direct employee vote which would be conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission. BMA said because the vote would not involve the CFMEU, the company expects the vote to finish by the end of April also.
Due to the strikes and heavy rains, BMA declared last week a force majeure and advised its customers that it could not meet supply contracts. Industry experts, however, said the declaration of force majeure would have minimum impact on global coking coal prices.
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