|Issue No 85||23 February 2001|
Miners Union Calls for ‘Community Dividend’
By Paddy Gorman
The coal mineworkers union has called on BHP to put some of its profits back into the community and protect Australian jobs.
Specifically, it wants the company to cancel the closure of the Kenmare, Laleham and Cordeaux coal mines as the company has secured an per cent price rise in coking coal exports, worth an estimated $288 million.
With semi-hard coal expected to be upgraded to hard coking coal, BHP's price increase could be as high as 15-20%.
Miners union General President Tony Maher said that the price increase makes the planned closure of the three underground coal mines Laleham and Kenmare in Central Queensland and Cordeaux in the NSW Illawarra "a scandal".
"These mines have been classified as marginal but the latest price increase means they can operate profitably. If the closures go ahead, hundreds more coal mineworkers and their families in hard hit regions will be thrown on the industrial scrapheap.
"They deserve better than that. BHP's shareholders are reaping massive profits but what about the workers who produce the coal and the communities which host BHP's operations, aren't they entitled to some form of a 'community dividend'?", asked Tony Maher.
Tony Maher said that while the price increase justified keeping the three mines open, the settlement still fell short of what BHP could have got. "With the coal market tight and oil and gas prices rocketing, BHP should have done a lot better. However, it has reaped enough to keep these three mines operating profitably and to comfortably settle the enterprise agreement disputes that have been raging at six of its Queensland coal operations and three in NSW", he said.
With BHP's CEO, Paul Anderson, touring the company's Central Queensland coal operations this week, Tony Maher called on him to cancel the unnecessary closure of the three underground mines and to reach a fair agreement with its workforce. "In the past three years, BHP's coal mineworkers productivity has risen by more than 50%. At the same time its workforce has been slashed by almost 40%. The company is making record billion dollar profits. We say it is time for a 'community dividend' in the form of employment security and the welfare of our communities", said Tony Maher.
Interview: Tony Abbott – Workers' Friend?
The new Workplace Relations minister relives his own union background and explains why he’s really just another worker at heart. Honestly.
Politics: The Politics of Petrol
Australia might be burning, but is it a fire that can be brought under control?
Organising: The Battle of Campsie
SDA delegate Maria Kavaratzis recounts how the Campsie Big W has been transformed into a union shop.
History: Scabbing Through the Ages
Neale Towart looks back at how popular culture has treated those workers who have not considered themselves part of the collective.
International: Diary of a Showdown
The Korean Metal Workers Federation recounts a week which culminated in violent attacks on workers outside the Daewoo factory.
Economics: Debt Dumping Campaign Enters New Phase
The millennial deadline might have passed, but Jubilee 2000 is not giving up the fight for debt cancellation for the world’s fifty-two poorest countries.
Health: The Real Drug Wars
As Africa attempts to deal with the HIV crisis, access to the medicines that can relieve victims’ suffering is emerging as a major humanitarian issue.
Satire: Liberals Claim Triumph in Queensland
John Howard has claimed the Liberal Party’s decimation in Western Australia and Queensland as a triumphant vindication of his party’s embracing of the national competition policy.
Review: Beyond a White Australia
As we ponder the One Nation renaissance, a new book challenges the current debates around xenophobia and the perceived threat of danger from Asia.
View entire latest issue
© 1999-2000 Labor Council of NSW
LaborNET is a resource for the labour movement provided by the Labor Council of NSWURL: http://workers.labor.net.au/85/news7_mines.html
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005