Iron ore train drivers at BHP Group’s Pilbara operations in Western Australia have voted to strike on Friday in a bid to secure an improved employment agreement, the country’s Mining and Energy Union said on Monday.
The 24-hour work stoppage could interrupt supply from Western Australia mines to BHP’s export hub at Port Hedland, although the world’s biggest miner said it had back-up measures in place.
“We believe that agreement can be reached without the need for protected action. We have contingency plans in place if action goes ahead,” said Warren Wellbeloved, BHP’s Western Australia Iron Ore general manager rail.
Employees rejected an offer made in December. The train drivers have been campaigning for improved conditions in areas like rostering and accommodation for more than two years.
The agreement covers about 580 people including drivers, shunters and trainees.
“These drivers are simply seeking guaranteed conditions in a range of areas that will make a big difference to them and their families,” Greg Busson, the union’s Western Australia secretary, said in a statement.
The union’s rail crew members had voted in favour of protected industrial action in October.
“Pilbara iron ore mine operators have had it their own way for a long time,” said Busson, adding that the workers had been “very patient” while giving BHP opportunity to address their concerns. The miner’s shares closed 0.5% lower at A$46.07.
(By Rishav Chatterjee and Melanie Burton; Editing by Janane Venkatraman and Jamie Freed)