Job losses at Hay Point Terminal ‘a total kick in the guts’
UPDATE, 6.30pm: BHP Billiton has responded to Maritime Union of Australia's Bob Carnegie, after the state secretary claimed BMA was 'de-unionising' its workforce.
"The contract for towage services at BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance's (BMA) Hay Point Coal Terminal expires on 30 June 2016," it said in a statement.
"BMA is running a competitive tender process for the services and expects to announce a decision on the outcome of the tender in the near future."
Meanwhile, Member for Dawson George Christensen said he was aware of the job losses at Hay Point and has voiced his disappointment to BMA.
"I spoke with a worker there last week. The guy is a friend but didn't want his name bandied about for fear that BMA would target him and that the union would target him for going to a LNP Member," he said.
INITIAL: "A TOTAL kick in the guts" - that's what Robert Barnes thought of the announcement he and 21 of his workmates wouldn't have a job after June 30.
"We were informed by our company (Teekay) yesterday (Tuesday) that we'll be finishing up on June 30 and we'll be replaced by other workers," the BMA Hay Point Coal Terminal tugboat worker of 14 years said.
"It hasn't been confirmed yet, but we believe that's a non-union operator and a different model of operation.
"We knew it was coming... it was some months ago the company was informed that they wouldn't have their towage contract renewed
"The coal terminal then decided to go to a competitive tender process ... they called it.
"It hasn't been officially announced yet, but the one company still standing was Rivtow Marine, who operate under partnership arrangements - quite different to how we operate now."
Mr Barnes said he and almost two dozen colleagues, who were "like family", would now struggle to find a job in a tough economic climate.
"... we've got young people with families, mortgages. You read about this thing all the time in the paper, but until it happens to you, you don't realise the hurt and the pain," he said.
"Everyone is devastated. I believe there's a lot of jaws dragging around the ground.
"Where's the next dollar going to come from? It appears this new company's required qualifications far exceed the qualifications of the workers on the tugs now."
Maritime Union of Australia state secretary Bob Carnegie said members who had worked for up to 45 years at BMA doing towage work would be replaced due to "BMA de-unionisation".
"What BMA are doing is subcontracting towage to Rivtow (Marine). Rivtow will then offer partnership arrangements on tugs. People become trustees and aren't covered by the Fair Work Act," he said.
"They're not employees, they're trustees. What BMA are doing this for is to destroy trade union organisations in the tow industry."
BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), which has been contacted for comment, operates seven Bowen Basin mines and the Hay Point Coal Terminal south of Mackay.
ALP Member for Mirani Jim Pearce and Greens candidate for Dawson Jonathon Dykyj attended a meeting today at the Queensland Council of Unions in Mackay to speak with workers and union representatives.