Several of BHP Billiton Ltd.'s Australian coking coal mines will be hit by a seven-day strike from next Wednesday as a dispute over a new workplace agreement drags on, a labor union said Thursday.Workers will down tools at the Goonyella Riverside, Broadmeadow, Peak Downs, Saraji, Norwich Park, Gregory Crinum and Blackwater mines that BHP co-owns with Mitsubishi Corp. , the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union said in an emailed statement.
Roughly 3,500 members of the CFMEU and two other unions jointly bargaining with BHP Mitsubishi Alliance staged rolling strikes over several months late last year. They suspended the action in December to continue negotiations.
Stephen Smyth, district president at the CFMEU, said the new round of work stoppages was necessary because BHP had failed to address workers' concerns despite 15 months of talks.
"The workers here feel they have been left with no choice but to ramp up industrial action," Smyth said. "BHP is making enormous profits out of its coking coal operations in central Queensland, but it doesn't want to listen to its workforce."
Marius Kloppers, chief executive of Melbourne-based BHP, Wednesday told analysts during a conference call--following the release of the company's half-year results--that the dispute wasn't about money, but centered on union demands that would impede the company's ability to manage the operations.
"It is extraordinarily important to have that right to manage if you are committing billions, perhaps tens of billions of dollars in expansion," Kloppers said. "So we would have liked this to end six months ago, but we must unfortunately insist that management's right to manage is sacrosanct."
Source: Market Watch