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Workers roll out strike action as EBA stalls

FURTHER work stoppages will roll out across the Bowen Basin before the 3000 unionised workers at BMA mines vote on an employee ballot at the end of the month.

Crinum workers will down tools on Friday for 12 hours, and the Single Bargaining Unit would not rule out the potential of more protected industrial action.

BMA this week announced negotiations between the resource giant and the SBU, comprising the CFMEU, AMWU and ETU, had reached an impasse, a claim sternly denied by mine workers' representatives.

CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth instead said the statement was a "demonstration of the corporate arrogance" plaguing the ongoing enterprise agreement talks.

"You've actually got to be human to talk to people," he said, following the end of the last scheduled talks between the SBU and BMA in Brisbane at the weekend.

"But these corporate members that came to the meeting on Saturday were not prepared to move even the slightest, despite a pre-arranged agreement that housing arrangements and commute policies would be discussed."

But a BMA spokeswoman said it was the SBU that was unwilling to compromise during the talks.

"BMA believes it has reached an impasse in negotiations based on feedback from the SBU that they were not prepared to compromise further on matters yet to be agreed," the spokeswoman said.

"BMA believes that, after 32 full day meetings with the Single Bargaining Unit over the past nine months, it is time for employees to have the opportunity to have their say."

The previous enterprise agreement was signed in 2007 and expired in May this year, and talks between the company and its employees have been ongoing since late December.

However, the current proposed EA, titled Version 11, still has failed to include clauses the SBU has been fighting for on behalf of the three unions' members, according to Mr Smyth.

It includes a $15,000 bonus to be paid in weekly instalments and a 5% pay rise, but the SBU said it had refused to discuss pay rates until the "big ticket items" were agreed on.

They include provisions surrounding housing arrangements, job security and an increase in fly in, fly out rosters.

"In the agreement they handed us, they've given us nothing that we've been negotiating over," Mr Smyth said.

"The blokes are annoyed at how long negotiations have taken, and they are annoyed at the arrogant attitude the members and lodge representatives have been approached with."

But BMA said it was time for workers to have their say to the company directly.

"BMA is keen for employees to take the time in the coming weeks to review and understand the agreement in detail, before the end of September ballot," a spokeswoman said.

"BMA will progress to an employee ballot on the agreement at the end of the month."

Xstrata's Oaky Creek coking coal operation and Anglo's Callide thermal coal mine are among mining companies which have also begun new workplace agreement negotiations with their workers.


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