Union rejects claims resource projects at risk

Union rejects claims resource projects at risk

The CFMEU says the latest industry report’s findings were ‘terribly misleading’, with a survey pool that only accounted for a ‘small piece’ of the resources sector.The mining union has hit back at new industry research findings that $500 billion worth of potential Australian resources projects could be at risk as workplace negotiations over one in five new projects fail.

Australian Mines and Metals Association research, conducted by an RMIT academic, has found the workplace relations environment for the resources sector has deteriorated dramatically, three years after the Fair Work Act was introduced.

New resources projects were being “held to ransom,” by unions with huge bargaining power under the current industrial relations climate, the resource industry employer group said, releasing the results of a survey by 132 of its member companies.

“As more than $500 billion worth of potential new Australian resources projects begins trickling down the pipeline, Australia cannot afford to have one in five projects stalling due to ongoing union tactics to extort unreasonable wages and conditions in already Australia’s highest paid industry,” AMA acting chief executive Minna Knight said in a statement today.

“These concerns are reinforced by the results of this latest research, which indicates that almost 40 per cent of resource industry employers are yet to renegotiate new agreements under the Fair Work Act.

“This means we potentially have hundreds of agreements all expiring within the next 12-18 months and without tightening the parameters in which unions can legally take strike action, the industry will be very exposed.”

The report also found that employers believe labour productivity in the mining sector had fallen by about 8 per cent from April 2010 to April 2012.

However, Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union mining division secretary Gary Wood said the report’s findings were “terribly misleading”, with a survey pool that only accounted for a “small piece” of the resources sector.

“They’re saying 10 companies within the resource sector took longer to negotiate a greenfields agreement,” he said. “That’s 10 companies out of 600-odd companies in the resource sector.”

Although Mr Wood conceded there had been some delays under the new system, he said employees now had much needed input into their pay and conditions.

“You can expect that there is a process that needs to be followed,” he said.

“The system that’s been in place is fair, it brings a balance back in – it’s not swayed one way or the other – it’s fair to employers and employees.”This is a workable system.”

The debate has followed 20 months of strike action at BHP Billiton’s coal operations in Queensland and criticism from the chairman of the mining giant, Jac Nasser, over the considerable power unions hold, under the current IR system.

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