SUPPORT: All hands were in the air at the CFMEU convened meeting in Blackwater, discussing the future of the town, after BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance announced it would contracts to EDI Downer, and 306 local jobs were up in the air. Photo Meghan Kidd / CQ News
SUPPORT: All hands were in the air at the CFMEU convened meeting in Blackwater, discussing the future of the town, after BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance announced it would contracts to EDI Downer, and 306 local jobs were up in the air. Photo Meghan Kidd / CQ News Meghan Kidd

Hundreds rally against Blackwater workforce changes

"WE'VE got what money can't buy - you!" 

Queensland Council of Unions assistant general secretary Ros McLennan compared BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance to parasites, sucking towns dry in each community they were in, when she addressed the hundreds of residents at the Blackwater Civic Centre tonight.

She told the audience that with heart and a strong voice, the township could push forward and stop the casualisation of workforces happening in other communities. 

At a meeting convened by the CFMEU, chaired by Mirani MP Jim Pearce, and attended by councillors, hoards of local residents and busloads of lodge members from Moranbah and other surrounding mining towns, the passion was paramount when people spoke about their fears of losing their "family town". 

Blackwater North State School captain Keahlan O'Brien read out a speech to the audience, garnering cheers as he talked about the town he grew up in. 

He said he feared with the job losses there wouldn't be enough people to coach local football teams, and him and his friends might not even be able to play next year, or get a job when they finished school.

Jim Pearce said it tugged at the heartstrings of many, and although he didn't have anything against labour hire, he did not agree with mining companies taking away jobs from people committed to living in the community.

He said mining companies who did so, had "lost the plot". 

The meeting was organised, after BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance announced it would award contracts to Downer EDI Mining at its Blackwater Mine for its pre-strip, mobile maintenance and drill and blast operations - leaving 306 positions up in the air. 

CFMEU district president Steve Smyth put forward notions to the community about what steps the union, and residents could take moving forward, and hands went into the air in unison. 


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