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Australian union calls out BHP on contract work

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12 November, 2019IndustriALL affiliate CFMEU Mining and Energy, representing mine workers at BHP operations in Australia, attended the company’s annual general meeting on 6 November in Sydney, to question executives about the new labour hire subsidiary Operations Services.

Union delegates questioned covered the poor treatment of Operations Services (OS) workers and the very high turnover and staff shortages on OS crews at coal mines in NSW and Queensland, affecting production.

CFMEU are receiving reports about very high turnover and short-staffing at all mines where OS has been deployed, with people leaving due to a range of issues including payment for flights being cut.

As well working on much lower pay and worse conditions than direct BHP employees, resulting in high turnover, OS workers are being told they must work Christmas Day.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Northern District vice president Jeff Drayton, who represents workers at BHP’s Mount Arthur mine in the Hunter Valley, said shareholders deserved to know that the loss of permanent jobs held by experienced workers was hurting people and production.

“Workers are voting with their feet. There is very high turnover. Mining is hard work and if people aren’t getting the pay and conditions they won’t stick around. BHP needs the support of the communities it operates in. Alienating workers by cutting wages and cancelling Christmas is simply bad for business.

“Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the response to our concerns was dismissive. We will continue to fight for the interests of mineworkers and mining communities affected by BHP’s poor corporate behaviour.”

After failed attempts to establish a global dialogue with BHP, IndustriALL launched a global campaign against BHP last year, and attended the company’s AGM in London in October.

“BHP favours a policy of outsourcing to cut labour costs and disrespects the fundamental rights of its workers and communities. We stand in solidarity with CFMEU and its members and reiterate the demands that BHP show respect and engage with unions,”

says IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan.