BHP Australian coal miners plan more strikes next week
Friday, 24 February 2012 | 00:00
Workers at BHP Billiton's Bowen Basin coal mines plan to strike again next week, extending a months-long dispute over working conditions, the union said on Thursday.
About 3,500 unionised workers at the mines have been staging rolling work stoppages since they first approved strike action in June 2011.
The total workforce at the mines is around 10,000, and analysts have estimated that a full week of 12-hour stoppages at the mines would cut production by up to 1 million tonnes, which could support metallurgical coal prices.
Workers at the BHP Billiton-Mistubishi Alliance's (BMA) Goonyella Riverside, Saraji and Norwich Park mines will hold stoppages ranging from as little as 24 hours to as long as 10 days, Stephen Smyth, Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) district president said.
Smyth said the rest of the seven BMA-operated mines were also expected to strike next week, but did not provide details on the duration of the stoppages.
Union members want greater job security and more pay as rising commodity prices boost mining sector profits. In a statement, BHP urged the union to resume talks with the company.
BMA-operated mines have a combined output capacity of more than 58 million tonnes per year of mostly metallurgical coal, representing about a fifth of annual global trade.
On Thursday, about 100 CFMEU union workers at the BHP Billiton-operated Port Kembla coal terminal said they were cancelling further strike action after reaching a preliminary agreement with the terminal.
The Port Kembla coal terminal exports around 10 million tonnes of coal and coke per year and processed about 5 percent of seaborne metallurgical coal, used for steelmaking, last year.
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