Mr Smyth wouldn’t be surprised if the pre-stripping work, that was being carried out by Downers, is completed by another, cheaper contractor.
Mr Smyth wouldn’t be surprised if the pre-stripping work, that was being carried out by Downers, is completed by another, cheaper contractor. Zavalnyuk Sergey

CFMEU concerned mines are taking “slash and burn” approach

IT'S been a turbulent shake-up for the mining industry but it's Bowen Basin workers who have been left rattled.

CFMEU district president Steve Smyth said the termination of the Downers EDI contract at BMA's North Goonyella Riverside Mine was an example of mining companies taking the "slash and burn" approach.

"The price of coal has dropped but the contracts are still there - that's the guts of it," he said.

Mr Smyth wouldn't be surprised if the pre-stripping work, that was being carried out by Downers, is completed by another, cheaper contractor.

The cost of mine-site work has fallen and as bigger companies review their costs it's the employees who are caught in the crossfire.

Downers EDI estimated the contract would have generated $360 million for them if the duration of the work hadn't been terminated two years early.

They are entitled to a compensation payout; this will cover their demobilisation costs and assist with redundancy payouts.

Mr Smyth said BMA scrapped an agreement with Leighton Contractors, who were doing work on Peak Downs Mines, and instead used HSE Mining at a cheaper rate earlier this year. He indicated the trend would continue.

However, a BMA spokeswoman said the decision had not been taken likely.

"Unfortunately, the environment we are in means that we have to make some tough decisions for the long-term future of the business," she said.

"BMA continues to focus on improving productivity and reducing costs to ensure the business can remain competitive for the long-term. This includes reviewing contractor arrangements, and making the necessary adjustments to remain cost competitive."

Mr Smyth believes the move was more strategic.

"They are saying they are trying to reduce the costs... but they are just trying to drive the price down, and so there are less conditions on workers, for when things do pick up," he said.



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