Thousands of coal miners have walked out of metallurgical mines in Queensland in an ongoing dispute over working conditions with coal mining giant BHP-Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA).
Around 3500 workers at seven of the company’s eight export mines began striking on Tuesday evening. The strike will not end until Saturday at the earliest, but may continue depending on BMA’s response, according to Stephen Smyth, president of the Queensland district of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).
Unions and workers say the move has been caused by a disagreement over working hours. “We have withdrawn our labour at all seven mines through to Saturday, on the back of the company reneging on a couple of matters that had been agreed in principle to do with hours of work and starting and finishing times,” Smyth said in a statement. CFMEU accused the company of attempting to force employees into “family-unfriendly rosters” and undoing months of negotiations.
BMA has announced that it will put the workplace agreement to a vote by the end of April. A previous ballot over workplace conditions and shift times in October 2011 was rejected by over 90% of the participating miners.
The affected mines have a combined output of around 58 million tpa.
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