BHP’s leave for vulnerable workers must include labour hire

Published: 9 Apr 2020

BHP’s paid discretionary leave for mineworkers in vulnerable groups is welcome, but currently excludes large numbers of labour hire and contract workers on BHP sites, the Miners’ Union said today.

“It is important that mineworkers in those groups identified as vulnerable are able to self-quarantine in line with official advice, without losing their livelihoods,” said CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland District President Stephen Smyth.

“Paid leave is an appropriate way to do that. Unfortunately, at least half of the workforce on BHP sites will not be able to access that paid discretionary leave for vulnerable workers because BHP has replaced so many permanent jobs with casual labour hire.

“We are aware of vulnerable labour hire workers being directed not to return to work on BHP sites and being stood down.

“This is a terrible outcome for these workers and BHP should fix it immediately by using the $6 million fund they say they have set aside to support labour hire workers through this period.”

The Union is also concerned about the nature and extent of the medical information being sought by BHP about workers in vulnerable groups and how it will be used.

“No worker should face future discrimination because of health information they have provided due to COVID-19,” said Mr Smyth.

“Commitments must be made by BHP and all mine operators that only relevant medical information will be sought, that it will be destroyed once this issue is resolved with and that all workers can be treated and assessed by their own doctors.

“COVID-19 must not be used as cover to stop anyone coming back to work when this is over, or to wind back any workers’ rights and conditions into the future.”