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Unions concerned over BHP demerger

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News of the BHP Billiton demerger has unions concerned about maintaining conditions, EBAs and entitlements for workers at the unwanted projects.

With the majority of BHPs aluminium, thermal coal, nickel and silver operations to be shifted into the ASX and JSX listed ‘Newco’, the Australian Workers’ Union national secretary Scott McDine will meet with BHP Billiton discuss guarantees.

The AWU will attempt to ensure guarantees are provided for the transfer of entitlements to the new company, the maintenance of current EBAs, and the longevity of investment plans for sites by Newco management.

McDine said the AWU would be vigilant to ensure workers were not disadvantaged by the demerger.

“We are determined to get guarantees from management that not one employee will lose their entitlements in the transition from BHP Billiton to NewCo,” McDine said.

“The current enterprise agreements negotiated with BHP Billiton were negotiated in good faith and we have every expectation that they will remain untouched.

“We will also be seeking detail from the company regarding its investment plans for current BHP sites and operations that will now fall under the NewCo banner.

“The AWU will ensure managers of both BHP and NewCo are made acutely aware that workers need to be included in this process and will not be sold short.”

Approximately 24,000 workers will be spun out in to the new company.

BHP Billiton’s confirmed plans for the demerger last Tuesday, with full year results which showe revenue growth of 1.9 per cent, representing a $67.2 billion increase.

Profits increased 23.2 per cent to 13.8 billion, resulting in a fully franked dividend of US 62 cents per share, compared with 59 cents on the preceeding year.

Leaving behind some of the boom era expansion, the global miner was been able to reduce capital and exploration expenditure by 32 per cent, taking the present expenditure down to US$15.2 billion, enabling a US$8.1 billion increase in cash flow despite the weaker commodity prices.

The expenditure is forecast to decline by a further US$400 million in FY2015.

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