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BHP Must Halt Individual Job Contracts in Australia

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18 July, 2005ICEM News Release No. 7/2000

The Australian Federal Court today ordered mining and materials multinational BHP to cease offering and entering into individual contracts with members of its Pilbara workforce.

The decision is a stunning victory for the Australian unions and for collective bargaining, with the court upholding all three grounds in the unions' case.

The unions submitted that there was a "serious arguable case" that BHP had breached the law through its industrial bribery in the Pilbara by:

- Prejudicing employees because of their union membership

- Inducing employees to leave their union

- Breaching a term of the Contract of Employment which provided that BHP should honour collective bargaining and not enter into individual contracts.

The court's decision is the biggest victory for the Australian trade union movement since the waterfront dispute of 1998.

"BHP should immediately abandon its disastrous deunionisation campaign and respect the right of Australian workers to bargain collectively through their unions," commented Australian mining and allied workers' union the CFMEU today.

At the global level, the CFMEU is affiliated to the 20-million-strong International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM), which has been backing the campaign for labour rights at BHP.