The legal battle began two years ago when BHP set up its own labour hire companies and got just a handful of employees in Western Australia to vote for two proposed agreements that contained vastly inferior terms to those already enjoyed by BHP employees.
IndustriALL affiliate the Australian Workers Union (AWU) and CFMEU Mining and Energy appealed with Australia’s industrial relations tribunal Fair Work Commission against the approval of two enterprise agreements, as mining giant BHP tried to avoid negotiating with its large Operations Services in-house labour hire workforce.
The attempt has now come unstuck with the Fair Work Commission reaffirming that the two agreements cannot be approved.
CFMEU Mining and Energy national president Tony Maher says that BHP’s strategy with Operations Services is to drive down wages and conditions by outsourcing a large portion of its coal workforce to its wholly-owned subsidiaries on the two substandard agreements.
“We are pleased to see these agreements in the bin where they belong. We are calling on BHP to start treating its Operations Services workforce with respect by employing them directly on coal industry pay and conditions.
“Operations Services employees don’t deserve to be treated as second class citizens on the worksite and the union will be supporting them every step of the way.”
Daniel Walton, AWU national secretary, says there is no doubt that BHP would have used the agreements to undercut the pay and conditions of its entire mining industry workforce, affecting thousands of workers.
In comparison to a global industry average of 30 – 40 per cent, at BHP managed sites 60 per cent of the workforce on average are contractors. Operations Services is BHP’s in-house labour hire company, providing them with BHP shirts but leaving the workers without a say.
Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL mining director says:
“This is an important victory not only for CFMEU and AWU but for BHP workers globally against an insidious practice by BHP in its cynical attempt to legitimize a wholly abhorrent practice that undermine and violate workers’ rights.”
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