The mining union says the latest enterprise agreement (EA) for BHP Billiton-Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) workers in Queensland’s Bowen Basin would have been voted down if coal prices were higher.
About 60 per cent of union members voted in favour of BMA’s latest offer, ending the two-year industrial dispute over pay and conditions.
Under the agreement, workers will get a 15 per cent pay rise over the next three years, have greater flexibility over rosters and get additional safety provisions.
Andrew Vickers from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union says workers are aware of the economic conditions.
“The agreement is, I think, the best we could have expected under the circumstances,” he said.
“It’s not as good as what we set out to achieve and had prices stayed where they were when the negotiation process started we would have had a better outcome and we wouldn’t have had 40 per cent opposition to the agreement.
“They’ve accepted that times have moved and clearly they’ve said this is an acceptable outcome in all the circumstances.
“The key issues were the issues of the safety officers, the rostering, the accommodation arrangements and we think we’ve done all right out of that and clearly our membership have endorsed that view.
“I mean 60-40 is not what we’re used to but either Tony Abbott or Julia Gillard would be happy with a 60-40 result.”
The president of the Moranbah Traders Association, Peter Finlay, says it is a relief for local businesses.
“I think it’s going to give everyone a lot of confidence,” he said.
“We’ve been waiting for this EA to be signed for some time and it’ll certainly get rid of a lot of tension in the community knowing that there’s now something in place for the next couple of years.
“You can never really say well people aren’t spending money because [of it] but … people aren’t spending money … it’s a simple reason, I mean a lot of the workers and their families haven’t been confident about the future because the agreement hasn’t been signed.
“Now just logically that’s got to hold the bank balances back a bit.”