Passersby were handed leaflets supporting striking Central Queensland coal mineworkers at a picket of the BHP-Billiton Brisbane office on June 1. The leaflet said the picket was being held “to show our solidarity with the striking coalminers in Central Queensland over their dispute with BMA company [BHP-Mitsubishi Alliance] concerning mine safety. This is a crucial fight for working rights and conditions, important for all Australian unionists right now.”
In a message to the picketers, Stephen Smyth, Queensland mining and energy division president of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union, said: “This dispute is about BHP wanting to take away the ability of our members to determine who will represent them on safety in the mines. The particular safety roles of looking after our members have always been union jobs, and we will fight to keep that.
“We want to keep the right to have rosters and hours of work that our members agree with, not imposed on them. We want to ensure our members can come home to their families, not be forced to live in single persons' accommodation, and also that the company can't force this onto workers without a choice.
“In a nutshell, we are not chasing much: just wanting to maintain conditions and entitlements, where they will live, the hours they work, dignity and respect.”