Unions stalling new mine projects

A SURVEY of the resources industry found one-in-five new mine projects were being hindered or stalled by union-stonewalling.

The Australian Mines and Metals Association, a lobby group for the mining industry, released its fifth in a series of reports on how the Fair Work Act has performed since 2009.

The AMMA conducts the survey before handing the data to an academic from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

Of the 132 human relations or industrial relations staff who responded to the survey, 36.2% - or about one-third - had tried to negotiate a union agreement for a new project since 2009.About 19% - or about one-fifth - of those reported that unions had refused to reach an agreement with their company in regards to a greenfield project.

When building a new project, the Fair Work Act requires companies to negotiate with unions when hiring a fresh workforce or risk unchecked industrial action.

One respondent to the survey wrote that these deals were not negotiated but that it was a "take-it-or-leave-it scenario".

AMMA began the surveys after the introduction of the Fair Work Act in 2009, mapping how mining firms were responding to the new legislation.

Its report stated that positive views of the law were deteriorating.

AMMA acting chief Minna Knight said major reforms of the Fair Work Act were needed.

She said with $500 billion in potential new projects under consideration, one in five being put at risk was far too many.

A spokesman for Industrial Relations Minister Bill Shorten said the minister had already spoken to Steve Knott of AMMA about these matters.

He told him greenfield agreements would be considered in the context of the government's response to the review of the Fair Work Act, which is being prepared for release.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union and Australian Council of Trade Unions did not respond to questions before deadline.

Topics:  mining unions

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