Workers at four Queensland coal mines could stop work in protest over conditions being proposed by BHP-Mitsubishi Alliance in a fresh pay deal.
The Mining and Energy Union and the miner have been negotiating an enterprise bargaining agreement for workers at the Saraji, Peak Downs, Blackwater and Goonyella Riverside mines for 18 months.
Talks have become deadlocked, with the union and company failing to agree on conditions, including the number of permanent jobs, redundancy protections and career progression.
MEU Queensland president Stephen Smyth says about 90 per cent of workers covered under the current deal have voted to take protected industrial action over conditions.
“Many thanks to our members for making their voices heard and showing their strong commitment to taking action in support of current and future permanent jobs in our industry,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Our members at Saraji, Peak Downs, Blackwater and Goonyella Riverside have a proud history of fighting for conditions over many decades.”
Smyth said the union had been in talks with BHP-Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) for 15 months, followed by another three months of negotiations involving the Fair Work Commission.
The union applied for the ballot with the commission, which means any industrial action will be protected.
The vast majority of eligible voters supported work stoppages, along with other measures, the union said.
Smyth said job security had been eroded in BMA’s central Queensland mines, where there’s been a steady decline of permanent jobs and a rise in the number of labour-hire contractors, including from BHP provider Operations Services.
But BHP-Mitsubishi Alliance said their proposed deal contained industry-leading conditions which addressed employee concerns while keeping its operations “safe, productive and sustainable.”
“We are disappointed about the support for industrial action and remain committed to constructive bargaining in good faith through the existing Fair Work Commission process,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“The best way forward for a win-win outcome is to negotiate an agreement, not industrial action.”