MEMBER UPDATE: Operations Services Agreements

Published: 20 Dec 2019

Key points:
•    The Fair Work Commission yesterday approved two Enterprise Agreements to cover BHP Operations Services employees.
•    The CFMEU’s challenge to the legality of these agreements was unsuccessful and we will appeal the approvals.
•    The four-year agreements are unfair and lock in pay and conditions that are far inferior to those received by direct BHP employees.
•    Operations Services employees deserve the same pay and conditions as direct BHP employees and that’s what the Union will keep fighting for.  


About the Agreements:
Operations Services (OS) is BHP’s in-house labour hire company deploying workers across its Australian operations.

Late last year, BHP submitted two non-union Agreements to the Fair Work Commission to cover this new workforce:

•    Operations Services Maintenance Agreement 2018
•    Operations Services Production Agreement 2018

Both agreements were voted on by a small number of non-union iron ore workers in WA. They are intended to cover a workforce of thousands in the coal industry in NSW and Queensland. The Production agreement was voted up by just 9 out of 16 employees, the Maintenance agreement by 37 out of 50.

Even though BHP’s marketing says there is ‘no difference’ between BHP and OS, these agreements lock in far worse pay and conditions for OS employees.

The OS agreements provide for:
•    Pay rates of $30,000 to $50,000 a year less than current BHP coal agreements negotiated by the CFMEU
•    No pay rises over their four-year term
•    Workers can be transferred to any of the company’s operations nationally, including coal and iron ore, at any location at any time
•    No accident pay
•    Workers can be forced to work on Christmas Day.
The agreements are effective for OS employees from 26 December 2019.

Outgoing BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie told investors that Operations Services was a cost-cutting measure to hire permanent employees on contractor pay rates.

What next?
Approval of these non-union, substandard agreements by the Fair Work Commission shows how current workplace laws are stacked against working people.

We will campaign to change the unfair laws that allow big mining companies like BHP to ignore existing union agreements and simply introduce substandard non-union agreements that allow them to create a cut-price workforce. We need ‘same job same pay’ laws.

Meanwhile, our legal team will appeal the approval of these agreements. We want the opportunity to negotiate a better deal for OS workers.

And the Union will continue to stand up for Operations Services employees in the workplace. We value our OS members and we know that the best way to fight back against big mining companies like BHP is through unity and collective action in the workplace.