Member Update: Mt Arthur mandatory COVID vaccination policy

Published: 10 Nov 2021

BHP’s mandatory vaccine policy came into effect today at Mt Arthur, meaning that workers who have not shown evidence of receiving at least one dose of a COVID vaccine may not enter the site. 

Our Union has challenged the implementation of this policy in the Fair Work Commission on the grounds it is not a lawful and reasonable direction. This matter is continuing and will be heard by a full bench of the FWC on 24 November with a decision likely in early December.

We maintain our strong view that industry-based vaccination mandates are a matter for government based on public health advice, not individual employers. The NSW Government does not consider mandatory vaccinations necessary in the mining industry – so it shouldn’t be up to BHP to impose.  

Due to the delay between the FWC decision and the introduction of the mandatory vaccination policy, we applied for interim orders to prevent BHP from taking disciplinary action against affected workers. 

In an unfair and disappointing decision last night, the FWC’s Deputy President Saunders rejected our application for interim orders. He reaffirmed BHP’s right to prevent unvaccinated workers from entering the site and require them to show cause why their employment should not be terminated.

This means that affected workers face being stood down without pay from today – even though the Fair Work Commission’s judgment on this issue is not due for another three weeks. 

The FWC decision will determine whether employer mandatory vaccination policies in the mining industry can be prevented or are lawful and therefore likely to be implemented widely.  

The Union will provide assistance for affected members and continue representing and supporting all of our members as we fight BHP’s heavy-handed approach.