Disputes between workers and BMA after new enterprise deal

THE new three-year enterprise deal between workers and BHP Billiton coal miners failed to recognise the importance of skilled workers and apprentices, according to a union involved in its negotiation.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union was part of the trio of trade unions that spent 24 months locked in negotiations with BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance as they thrashed out a new agreement covering five Central Queensland mines.

AMWU Bowen Basin organiser Jason Lund said he was already being told of emerging disputes between workers and BMA less than a week after the deal was formalised by Fair Work Australia on October 26.

He said the agreement did not specifically recognise trade-skilled staff and lacked detail on how many apprentices BMA was to train.

>>Read the full enterprise agreement here

Years spent wrangling - even as mines were mothballed - frustrated members who Mr Lund said were ready to end the fighting.

The union's position was to neither support nor endorse each proposed agreement, leaving it to workers to decide.

"The membership looked at this and thought, 'Is this the best deal? No it's not, but it will get us through the next three years," Mr Lund said.

"We could have boxed on for a lot longer but at what point do you say enough is enough?

"It was up to the (three unions) to make the judgement and say, 'Let's roll it out to the members and see what happens'."

In March, the SBU - which was the united front of the AMWU, Electrical Trades Union and the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union - released an update on potential changes being put by BMA.

It included a risk of change for work hours, rosters, start locations and tool allowances among other issues.

In early July, Federal Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten asked Bill Kelty to mediate the dispute.

An industrial ceasefire remained until October 22 when the deal was supported by workers.

By the end of the week it was rubberstamped by Fair Work.

Once the deal was done, the CFMEU cheered roster flexibility, the covering of safety check inspectors, housing agreements and higher superannuation contributions but said the fight for improved conditions would go on.

Mr Lund said although he accepted the deal having being done, cracks in the settlement were beginning to show.

"I can see us sitting here for the next three years arguing with BMA," Mr Lund said.

"I could be wrong, but I can't see it improving, not with the document we've got."

It is understood the AMWU had "hundreds" of members working at BMA sites although exact figures were unavailable at the time of writing.BMA declined to comment.


A look at what a miner can earn:

ANNUAL RATE: 2012/13: $83,780-$139,250. 2013/14: $87,968- $146,212. 2014/2015: $92,367-153,323.

OVERTIME PER HOUR: 2012/13: $75.08. 2013/14: $78.83. 2014/15: $82.77.

OTHER CONDITIONS: Free membership at Moranbah gym. Two pairs of prescription glasses if needed. Must supply own tools, but will be replaced if damaged on site. Workers can receive up to $15,000 a year, paid per week, as a bonus. If made redundant, will receive $5000 to relocate.

Topics:  australian manufacturing workers union bhp billiton mitsubishi alliance bma enterprise agreement

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