Union insists pay is not the point

THE CFMEU has rejected claims from the Federal Government the ongoing enterprise agreement dispute with resource giant BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance is centred on a pay rise.

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson was quoted by southern media on the weekend as urging the Single Bargaining Unit to take the "not a bad increase" of 5% over three years in order to resolve the 20-month dispute.

"The potential outcome for workers is something in the order of 5%," Mr Ferguson said.

"It's 15% over three (years) … with a rate of inflation under 2%, that's not a bad increase in take-home pay."

But CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth said clarification was needed, as the dispute had always centred on workers' concerns - not pay.

"Workers will continue to fight for the future of their mining communities, whether that's maintaining family-friendly rosters, accessible accommodation in towns with skyrocketing house prices, or fighting to protect union roles in safety at the coalface," Mr Smyth said.

"Martin Ferguson's lecture from Japan, raising concerns which haven't been raised with any union representative, are not helpful to resolve this dispute."

Mr Ferguson declined an interview opportunity with the CQ News.

It has been a tumultuous 20 months for the two parties, which have both resorted to media campaigns to make their cases to the masses, often going beyond the individual worker to which the agreement applies and targeting the families behind the BMA employees.

But that battleground was effectively stopped when the media ban was enforced earlier this year, about the same time the dispute was almost settled in July.

Speculation has also been cast over the future of BMA's Blackwater operation. However, this has not been able to be confirmed.


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