(Bloomberg) -- Workers critical to the operation of five Australian coal mines owned by BHP Group Ltd. are readying to vote on industrial action that could involve strikes before the end of the year, the AFR reported, citing their union.

The open-cut coordinators are responsible for safety compliance that is essential for the mines to stay open, the report said. Their ballot closes on Dec. 20 and includes options for indefinite strikes and bans on risk assessments, which could force BHP to suspend mining operations at its five Bowen Basin sites in the state of Queensland, it said.

If backed by workers, strikes could take place as early as Dec. 28, the AFR said.

The workers have been in ongoing talks with their employer pushing to cement conditions on redundancy pay, accident pay and consultation over roster changes, AFR said. Another round of bargaining is scheduled for this week, and a BHP spokesman told the paper that “good progress” had been made in recent months to respond to worker concerns. 

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