BHP Australia Coal Miners to Continue Work Stoppages


Workers at global miner BHP Billiton plan more work stoppages at all of the company's Australian coal mines next week after voting to reject a new employment contract proposed by BHP, the workers' union said Friday.

BHP Billiton-Mistubishi Alliance (BMA) mines have faced rolling work stoppages since June, with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) asking for greater job security and more pay for its members as rising commodity prices boost mining-sector profits.

Ninety-two percent of union workers voted the BHP proposal down on Thursday, but BHP said it would revise the plan and put it to the workers for a vote again before the end of the year.

"The agreement was voted down, in line with the history of first votes. The result has not changed BMA's resolve to reach an agreement that meets the needs of the business and its employees as quickly as possible," BHP said in an emailed statement on Friday.

BHP's proposed employee contract offered a 5 percent annual pay raise for three years and some job security provisions as well as a A$15,000($15,186) signing bonus paid over the course of a year. About 3,500 workers belong to unions at the BMA mines out of a total workforce of around 10,000.

Union spokesman Stephen Smyth said BMA and the union were still "miles apart" in terms of their views on what would be acceptable in an employment agreement.

The work stoppages have resulted in around 2 million metric tons of lost metallurgical coal production to date, according to a UBS estimate. Metallurgical coal is used in steel-making.

BMA-operated mines have a combined output capacity of more than 58 million metric tons per year of mostly metallurgical coal, representing about a fifth of annual global trade.