BHP suing union for $2.5 million

BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) is suing Queensland's most powerful mining union for almost $2.5 million to counteract the unlawful work stoppages that have affected BHP’s subsidiary in the last few years.

According to CQ News, the mining and energy division of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) faces accusations from BMA that one of its safety representatives abused his position, forcing mines to illegally shut operations.

The move is just the latest in the endless union battle at BMA's coal mines in the Bowen Basin.

In the last two years the union has headed work strikes across BMA coal operations after initial agreements broke down in February 2010.

BMA argues that particular stoppage, which lasted about eight hours at its different mines, cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost wages and coal sales.

Safety authorities in Australia are allowed, under the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act, to immediately halt operations for “safety and health purposes.” But if this power is used for anything else it can result in serious fines of up to $4,500 dollars.