Enterprise Bargaining negotiations between BHP Billiton and the CFMEU have started.
Enterprise Bargaining negotiations between BHP Billiton and the CFMEU have started. Kelly Butterworth

LISTEN: Union claims BHP trying to pave way for job cuts

QUEENSLAND'S coal mining union said BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) are trying to pave the way for job cuts through Enterprise Agreement negotiations for the Bowen Basin.

But BHP Billiton said it aims to deliver cost efficiencies and productivity improvements through a simplified agreement.

The negotiations, which will cover more than 2000 employees across five Bowen Basin mines, between BMA and the CFMEU have been on-going since October 2015.

LISTEN: CFMEU Mining and Energy District President Steve Smyth said the union has been fair and open in negotiations.

"BHP Mitsubishi are seeing just how far they can push local mines and strip away working conditions and entitlements to bring US style conditions to Australia," Mr Smyth said.

"There are uncertain times ahead for the industry and we have been cooperative in forgoing pay increases in exchange for commitments around security of employment, recognition of entitlements, and continued protection of health and safety at work.

"But BHP Mitsubishi say they need more flexibility and to simplify operations, which is just code for stripping away of conditions and paving the way for more job cuts.

"This company has made money hand over fist in Australia on the back of their hard working employees and we expect that to be respected in an ongoing and fair commitment to their workforce."

The CFMEU said the company tried to exclude the Blackwater mine, from the wider Enterprise Agreement for the region, and claimed this would have created a two tiered system of pay, conditions, and entitlements for workers.

But a BHP Billiton spokesman said the Blackwater Mine faced unique infrastructure, logistical and resource challenged which required a separate EA.

He said BHP Billiton was also seeking that neither Gregory Crinum nor Norwich Park mine be covered as both are no longer operational.

"Since (October), BMA has been meeting with employees and their representatives to discuss its priorities which include delivering cost efficiencies and safe productivity improvements, through a simplified agreement," he said.

"Through the bargaining conducted so far, claims have been tabled and BMA has also tabled two draft agreements. We are continuing to meet with our employees and their representatives as part of the ongoing bargaining."

The next EA meeting will be in Blackwater this week.