Tensions boil over at BMA site as global giant takes action
A FLEDGLING relationship between a powerful mining union and the world's biggest resources firm has been poisoned amid allegations of intimidation.
It follows an unprotected wildcat strike led by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union at the Saraji mine in Central Queensland.
The CFMEU claimed a supervisor from the mine, owned by BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance, physically and verbally attacked a union safety representative.
BMA declined an opportunity to be interviewed on Friday.
A group of unions - including the CFMEU- joined BMA for a private conference on March 25 with the Fair Work Commission.
The goal was for the sides to build a stronger working relationship following venomous dealings that stemmed from a long- running pay dispute.
After the agreement was settled last year, sides were asked returned to the table.
APN understands a draft five-point plan was drawn up by both sides for each to abide by.
The in-principle deal failed to last even two months before the CFMEU escaped what it called a "sham process" by sending a letter to the Fair Work Commission's Justice Alan Boulton on May 10.
In the letter, sighted by APN, CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth told Justice Boulton the union "will not participate voluntarily in a sham process, and formally withdraw our agreement to and support for the outcomes (of the conference)".
The letter was written less than a month after the Saraji strike, which ended when Fair Work ordered members back to the site.
In the missive, Mr Smyth said an investigation by BMA led to the supervisor being asked to apologise without any further disciplinary action.
He also wrote that those who joined the strike were given a warning or "step one disciplinary" note in their company files.
On Friday, Mr Smyth described the relationship between the union and BMA as "toxic".
"What we all want is a relationship that's workable and without confrontation," he said.
Mr Smyth said he felt union members were being harassed and hassled as punishment for the enterprise bargaining agreement not going the right way for the company.
"We're not prepared to go beyond the certified agreement when the other side isn't fair dinkum," he said.