BHP iron ore drivers give notice of 24-hour stoppage

Mining and Energy Union

Iron ore train drivers in the Pilbara have notified BHP they will take a 24-hour stoppage this Friday 16 February as part of their industrial campaign to secure an improved enterprise agreement.

In a protected action ballot held from 2 to 9 February, 97% of eligible Mining and Energy Union (MEU) members voted yes to industrial action including stoppages and slowdowns.

MEU WA Secretary Greg Busson said drivers had demonstrated strong resolve to secure improved conditions in areas including rostering and accommodation.

“These drivers are simply seeking guaranteed conditions in a range of areas that will make a big difference to them and their families,” said Mr Busson.

“Pilbara iron ore mine operators have had it their own way for a long time. Rail crew have done an incredible job getting organised and getting BHP to the bargaining table.

“They’ve been very patient and given BHP every opportunity to address their concerns. Stopping the trains this Friday sends a strong message to BHP about their unity and determination.”

MEU rail crew members voted in a previous protected action ballot last October. Following that successful ballot, BHP put a new agreement out to vote, to replace the BHP Billiton Iron Ore Locomotive Drivers Agreement 2014.

While the offer was an improvement, it did not adequately address members’ priorities and was rejected with a no vote of almost 70% before Christmas.

The MEU met with BHP again in January with a view to addressing outstanding issues. BHP has not yet responded to these issues, leaving drivers frustrated.

The MEU applied for a new Protected Action Ballot Order (PABO) as the previous authorisation for protected action had expired.

/Public Release.