Union ad hits BMA nerve

TWO women, in 30 seconds, paint a damning impression of their partners' employer.

The first is a young mother, filmed rolling play dough with a little girl, apparently her daughter, and a voice-over tells viewers her "husband works very hard for BHP so they can make a record profit".

"But it's never enough," she says, now the focus of the camera.

"Now they want my husband to work longer hours, and more shifts, and they even expect him to work over Christmas.

"It's just not fair."

That's the first 15 seconds of the Single Bargaining Unit's militant media campaign, and together with the second half, is what prompted resource giant BMA to request its withdrawal.

A middle-age woman is next seen on the screen, hanging out a hi-vis work shirt on a backyard clothesline.

Being a BHP family, she tells viewers, "used to mean you were looked after".

"This was a great town to live in," her voice-over says as images of a town flash by.

"Now the company has more, but care less."

But despite its controversy the SBU is standing its ground.

Comprising the AMWU, CFMEU and ETU, the union has refused to remove the ads.

"We're more than happy with the ad and it's all factual," CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth said.

"BMA can try and run a negative campaign in response, but it's pretty hard to run one against two women.

"The facts in the ads are all in version 11 of the enterprise agreement."

A BMA spokeswoman yesterday said the ad misrepresented the proposed EA, which was to go to an employee ballot at the end of the month.

"BMA is concerned about the union's current publicity campaign which makes a number of misleading claims about the content of the new enterprise agreement," she said.

"BMA has written to the SBU asking for the campaign videos to be withdrawn and for the distribution of such material or claims via the media or otherwise to stop.

"Misleading information about increasing hours of work, requirement to work on Christmas and Boxing days (unless there is an emergency) creates confusion and unnecessary concern for employees and their families."

She said there would be no material changes to BMA's hours of operation or ordinary work hours, or the number of shifts employees working even time rosters.

"Employees will continue to work the same number of shifts on their same rosters or under new standard rosters," the spokeswoman said.

"As is currently the case, employees will not be forced to work Christmas or Boxing Day, unless an emergency situation arises."

But the SBU stands by the facts presented in the ad and said the response from members meant it had struck a chord.

Mr Smyth said the negotiation impasse announcement from BMA this week had prompted not only the media campaign, but also the notification of further industrial action across the Bowen Basin beginning today.

Gregory and Crinum mine workers will strike for 12 hours today before Saraji and Norwich Park down tools in shift-long stoppages on Monday.

Crinum and Goonyella Riverside will follow suit on Tuesday, and a total non-rostered overtime ban will be enforced for a month from Tuesday at Norwich Park.

"We (the SBU) have got more than 3000 members employed at the seven mines, and they're all telling us they aren't happy with this current corporate agreement," Mr Smyth said.

"This isn't a workers agreement. It's a document that's driven by the company's HR views and that's not what our workers want."

An employee ballot is scheduled for the end of the month, but the SBU is confident it will be rejected. The date of the vote is unknown.


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