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Blackwater women fight for answers from BHP-Billiton

MISSION: Vicky Hamilton, Kath Miller and Salle Collins travelled to Brisbane to hand over s letter of concern about Blackwater to BHP-Billiton.
MISSION: Vicky Hamilton, Kath Miller and Salle Collins travelled to Brisbane to hand over s letter of concern about Blackwater to BHP-Billiton. Contributed

KATH Miller had to lay off the baker two weeks ago.

With her bakery already down a vital component, the Blackwater business owner hated to think what would happen once 300 workers lose their jobs at BHP-Billiton's (BMA) Blackwater mine site.

With fellow residents Vicky Hamilton and Salle Collins, she arrived at BHP-Billiton's Brisbane office last Friday to deliver letters of concern.

"At first we were told BHP weren't meeting with us," Mrs Miller said.

But she said after completing a series of interviews with other media, they were able to meet with a communications manager.

A spokesman for BMA said the women met with "company representatives" for more than an hour.

Mrs Miller said she wasn't satisfied.

"I got the opinion they don't really care," she said.

"We wanted them to come out and talk with the community and spend a couple of days.

"I've been in Blackwater 33 years and morale is the worst I've ever seen it.

"And at 51, I never thought I'd be working a permanent night shift after we had to let the baker go."

In Mrs Hamilton's letter she said her husband was captain of the Blackwater fire service which covered a 400km radius.

Eight out of its 18 members were employed by BHP-Billiton.

"(If they have to leave town)... this will have a major impact on our roads and the way major incidents are dealt with...," she said.

In August 300 permanent workers were told their jobs would be outsourced to Downer, with no guarantees they would be able to pick up the work with the contractor company

The BMA spokesman said, "Downer expects to offer predominantly full-time local employment opportunities once the transition arrangements have been agreed and the contracts become operational".

Topics:  bhp billiton employment mackay mining


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