Business

BMA v Union war may not be over yet

Norwich Park Mine, near Dysart, will be shut down on May 11. Some workers say they only heard of the closure through the rumour mill.
Norwich Park Mine, near Dysart, will be shut down on May 11. Some workers say they only heard of the closure through the rumour mill. Contributed

A DEAL between the unions and the mines should be seen not as a peace treaty but as a momentary ceasefire, according to an industrial relations expert who warned of more skirmishes to come.

Griffith University Associate Professor of Business Bradley Bowden said the very public and occasionally-vitriolic attacks launched during the fight between BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance and a trio of mining trade unions would only intensify as each side saw their own victory as being essential to their survival.

BMA and the CFMEU took on each other in at least nine Federal Court battles since the dispute began in late 2010.

Of those, four are yet to be finalised although some may be on the verge of settlement or withdrawal.

The new enterprise agreement between all four finally was signed on Monday - however this was not expected to put an end to the sparring.

Prof Bowden said the unions and BMA were destined for tense and consistent confrontations as the company put cost-cutting at the top of its priorities and the union fought any move towards more contract labour or redundancies.

He said the fall in coal prices meant BMA was keeping an eagle-eye on its books, while the unions still wanted to lock in the kind of assurances that could have been on the cards when prices were good.

If BMA puts workers on contracts to slash costs, Prof Bowden said, this could also weaken the unions' power at the six Central Queensland mines.

"Despite the settlement, we're going to see more intense and quite nasty small battles all over the place for the next couple of years," he said.

If BMA opted to re-open Norwich Park with contract labour, that too could provide an ignition point.

"Their relationship is not good and my expectation is that it will get worse.

"I suspect (court cases) will not be settled and may drag on."

A CFMEU spokesman said the union would focus on housing and rostering in future negotiations but would now ensure BMA held up its end of the newly-signed enterprise agreement.

The spokesman said the union was waiting for decisions "on a small number of legal issues" but would not comment further until they were resolved.

BMA declined to comment on Prof Bowden's views, nor issues before the court.

Kieran Salsone

Topics:  bhp billiton, bma, cfmeu, industrial action, mitsubishi, unions




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Serious motorcycle crash on Southern Downs

BE VIGILANT: Parents are being warned to keep an eye on their kids during the holidays.

Woman injured in motorcycle crash

Jay Laga’aia performs for Clifton kids

G’DAY JAY: Jay Laga'aia performing at Clifton State School for Under Eights Week.

Jay Laga'aia performed to 400 under eights.

Warwick furniture store latest business set to shut up shop

Warwick Furniture Court owner Steve Oakland says a downturn in the economy is behind his decision to close his store later in the year.

Furniture Court to close down in October

Latest deals and offers


She’ll be apples in Stanthorpe as festival kicks off

Jonathan Apple, festival president John Thouard, former Young Ambassadors Miriam Spina and Taylah Wantling and Isabella Grape welcomed the start of the 2016 Festival.

It’s a great start for the 10 days of festival ahead'

The best retro movies of the week? May 27 - June 3

Gregory Peck Photo Contributed

This week TV fan get to see Tom Cruise in a 1980s classics

Warwick High student named as hockey nationals umpire

Interview with Warwick High student Isaac Johnson who has been named as an umpire...

Start of Pentath-run wheelchair race in Warwick

Start of Wheelchair race at Pentath-run 1500

Warwick Hospital Get Up Petition

Deuchar resident Trevor Ives is heading up a GetUp petition against Federal Government cuts of as much as $62.8 million to funding at Warwick Hospital. Photo Jayden Brown / Warwick Daily News

Deuchar resident Trevor Ives talks about a GetUp petition calling for no cuts to...

Own Sunshine Coast property? You’re about to make money

UP AND UP: Property owners are likely to win from rent and price increases but tenants and first home buyers might not be so happy. Photo: Brett Wortman / Sunshine Coast Daily

Good new for property owners, not so good for buyers and tenants.

Sale nears on last large block of land in Coolum

The 43.37ha property on South Coolum Rd has sold.

South Coolum Rd property to be land banked