Train drivers at BHP’s massive iron ore mining operations in Western Australia have voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking protected industrial action to embed fair and consistent conditions in their Enterprise Agreement.
In a protected action ballot held from 18-25 October, 95% voted yes to a range of measures including work stoppages, speed reductions and a range of work bans.
MEU Western Australian Secretary Greg Busson said a further attempt would be made to secure an acceptable deal with BHP, but members were ready to apply for industrial action if their concerns aren’t addressed.
MEU and BHP Iron Ore have been bargaining for nearly two years for a replacement for the BHP Billiton Iron Ore Locomotive Drivers Agreement 2014.
The agreement covers about 500 drivers who operate trains carrying iron ore from BHP’s Pilbara mines around Newman to Port Hedland.
Drivers want action in a range of areas including guaranteed annual pay increases and consistent standards in areas including training, consultation, accommodation, application of flight assistance, dispute resolution and the process to change rosters.
“The ballot result sends a strong message to BHP that iron ore train drivers have had a gutful and are willing to take strong action for a new Enterprise Agreement that provides some certainty over their working conditions,” said Mr Busson.
“BHP’s current approach is ad hoc and unpredictable, resulting in unfair and inconsistent application of important conditions.
“Drivers are calling for certainty over their conditions and not to be at the whim of an individual supervisor as to whether they will get a pay rise or have their flights paid for.
“Drivers also want access to arbitration for independent back-up to resolve disputes.
“These drivers make an enormous contribution to the enormous profits BHP generates from iron ore. They made considerable personal sacrifice to keep the industry running during COVID.
“They are simply seeking a comprehensive Enterprise Agreement to give them certainty over important conditions that affect their lives.”
The strong ballot result meant workers would have a range of options available to them in planning an industrial campaign, said Mr Busson.
Contact: Greg Busson 0405 285 547