BMA 'meeting with unions daily'

After mining unions challenged the handling of Norwich Park Mine’s closure, BHP Billiton has come under fire by Fair Work Australia.
After mining unions challenged the handling of Norwich Park Mine’s closure, BHP Billiton has come under fire by Fair Work Australia. Contributed

THE head of BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance - which expects to close its Norwich Park Mine near Dysart on Friday - said the company had worked to try to "remove uncertainty" for workers as quickly as possible.

BMA asset president Stephen Dumble's comments follow a ruling from Fair Work Australia on Wednesday that it must meet with unions more often and cannot involuntarily retrench any Norwich Park workers employed under the current agreement.

It must also keep its re-deployment process open until May 18.

"BMA has been meeting with unions on a daily basis to provide them with an update on the process and progress we are making with assisting employees," Mr Dumble said.

"The Orders issued on Tuesday require the parties to meet three times a week which is less than what we have been doing in the past month.

"BMA has never sought to forcibly retrench any of its employees at Norwich Park and has been working to find suitable opportunities for all employees based on their preferences. This will continue to be our priority."

Mr Dumble said BMA had been trying to help workers move to other sites, but were hitting obstacles created by ongoing industrial action.

He labelled the campaign of industrial action by the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union has been slowing efforts at Norwich Park, even as BMA requested the union to exempt the mine as it headed for closure.
Mr Dumble said no worker on the enterprise agreement had been asked to move from their home without their agreement.

He said BMA had created extra positions at mine sites to cater for those needing redeployment after Friday's closure and had been conducting meetings with unions each day.

"I am proud of the efforts of my team and the fact that every employee (on the agreement) who wanted to be redeployed has been redeployed."


Ruling to ease impact of closure

MINING goliath BHP Billiton has been rebuked by Fair Work Australia, this time after a number of mining unions challenged the handling of its Norwich Park Mine closure, due to be mothballed at 6pm on Friday.

BMA will be forced to show how many of its 340 workers will be kept on to stop Norwich Park falling into disrepair.

It must also meet regularly with all three unions involved in the challenge - the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, Australian Manufacturers Workers Union and the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union.

It must not force an involuntary redundancy on any worker nor force any Norwich mine worker with concerns about having to move for a job at another BMA operation.

CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth said the ruling showed BMA was not being open with workers on its plans.

"BHP failed to offer any information to allow workers to decide on their redeployment options such as vacancies at other mines," he said.

It follows BMA asking all Norwich Park workers to hand in their preference on what BMA operation they would like to work at, or if they would prefer a voluntary redundancy, by April 25.

The company had previously said the mine was losing up to $1 million a day.

On Friday, asset manager Stephen Dumble said 99% of workers wanting a job at another mine would be given one.

At the time he said, "Almost all of the employees who expressed a first preference to redeploy to Saraji or Peak Downs mines will be given their preference and will not need to leave Dysart".

BMA declined to comment on the Fair Work decision.


  • The Fair Work ruling means BHP must:
  • Reveal workers needed for maintenance of Norwich Park;
  • Release mining job vacancies at its other Bowen Basin coal mines;
  • Give Dysart workers a list of company accommodation in other towns, including Blackwater, Moranbah and Emerald;
  • Provide a running list of redeployments, redundancy preferences, offers, acceptances and rejections; and,
  • Consult with the SBU (Single Bargaining Unit) unions until June 8 on minimising dismissals from ceasing production.

Topics:  bhp billiton cfmeu closure fair work australia norwich park mine

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