BHP's coal supplies facing delays
EVEN with Central Queensland miners returning to the coalface, BHP cannot promise its international customers their coal will be delivered on time.
The mining powerhouse cited flooding and ongoing industrial action for declaring a "force majeure" on its Bowen Basin operations - something akin to an act of God affecting its routine.
It is understood heavy rains that buffeted BHP projects earlier in the year were the main catalyst behind using the escape clause, but 16 months of ongoing industrial action has not helped.
Yesterday afternoon, the CFMEU - one of three unions involved in the actions - declared more strikes were imminent.
Workers were to have returned to their roles yesterday after a six-day strike.
With the pall of this battle hanging over its mines and export terminals, BHP cannot be certain if or when orders can be met.
In a statement, CFMEU district president Stephen Smyth said blaming the force majeure on industrial action was an insult to its workers.
"The workers were insulted that BHP considers it somehow beyond its control to offer an agreement that doesn't insult more than 90% of its workforce," he said.
"Management are just gunning to improve their record profits during the mining boom and they see smashing the rights of their workforce as a speed bump along the way."
BHP will offer workers a chance to vote in a private ballot on its offer later this month.
A company spokeswoman declined to comment.