FWC orders Glencore to cease surveillance of its employees, withdraw displinary action

Published: 24 Oct 2017

Multinational mining giant Glencore has received a stunning rebuke after the Fair Work Commission ordered the company to cease surveillance of Oaky North mine workers when they were in the town and at their homes.

The Commission found the company’s private security operations were ‘outside the scope of what would be reasonable’. The Commission found the company’s behaviour ‘undermines collective bargaining and freedom of association’.

Employees of Oaky North had complained that Glencore’s private security guards were monitoring them and their families at their homes and in the town of Tieri. One on occasion, a worker reported that a private security guard had filmed them using body cameras while they were at the local pub.

In a decision handed down yesterday, the Commission was highly critical of Glencore’s private security operations and ordered Glencore to cease its surveillance of employees as they went about their private business. 

Evidence before the Commission shows that Glencore’s security company was briefed to monitor and record specific activities by union members, including specific instructions such as ensuring the use of ‘long lens camera etc for photos of piquet (picket). We need to be able to ID individuals’

It shows the private security company obtained the home addresses of every CFMEU member in the town. In evidence, a representative of the security company told the Commission ‘we know where everyone lives’.

The private security company applied military terms to its anti-worker operations, and likened union members to the Viet Cong.  An email exchange revealed the private security firm referring to CFMEU with the comment ‘Charlie don’t surf’ – a reference to the Viet Cong in the film “Apocalypse Now”.

The Commissioner also ordered Glencore to withdraw a direction to staff regarding the wearing of union clothing at the mine, and to drop disciplinary action against workers. 

Immediately following the decision, Glencore issued a further lockout of workers, taking the number of days locked out now to 117.

Quotes from QLD District President Stephen Smyth:

“Glencore acts as though it is above the law but its heavy-handed tactics have now been exposed. They are control freaks who think they can act with impunity and use private security guards who are military fantasists to intimidate and entrap workers.

“No employee in Australia should be subject to this level of control through private company policies on what you can or can’t do while on protected industrial action.

“We are pleased with this fair decision from the Fair Work Commission.

“We are also committed to continuing to getting a fair and reasonable agreement that will benefit the members, their families and the community of Tieri.”

The Commission yesterday directed Glencore to:

  • Withdraw the direction issued to employees on 15 and 16 July 2017, that they are no longer permitted to wear clothing associated with the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) into and out of the Mine and will not issue any new directions to the same or similar effect;
  • Other than in the precincts of the Mine or on any picket line or protest in the vicinity of the Mine, cease undertaking or causing to be undertaken, surveillance of employees;
  • Take no further steps, including disciplinary action, with respect to allegation letters issued to the following employees in July 2017

Contact: Rebecca Nicholson 0409 216053