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Another defeat for BHP as OS Agreement rejected

May 22, 2024

The Fair Work Commission has rejected another application by BHP for approval of an Enterprise Agreement to cover its production workforce. 

The Mining and Energy Union said the FWC decision, which found that the proposed Enterprise Agreement was not valid because it had not been explained properly to workers, was the latest in a string of legal defeats for BHP’s in-house labour hire operation. 

MEU Queensland President Mitch Hughes said the decision delivered late Tuesday was a further indication that BHP’s approach in setting up a subsidiary to provide itself with a cheaper workforce was flawed. 

“This decision further exposes BHP’s dodgy practices when it comes to treatment of its OS workforce,” said Mr Hughes. 

“We have always said the OS workers deserve a comprehensive Enterprise Agreement with pay and conditions in line with industry standards. 

“We spent years bargaining with BHP to try and get an agreement for OS workers that guaranteed them more than a bare minimum. It’s a credit to the workers that they were able to win improvements in the proposed offer by standing together and taking action. 

“But the proposed Enterprise Agreement for OS workers was still a far cry from the employment conditions of the permanent workers at BHP mines. 

“We are very pleased the Fair Work Commission has agreed with our concerns that the Agreement was not properly explained to workers, including that BHP did their best to bury the detriments of the Agreement while spruiking its benefits.”

The FWC also found that OS workers were kept in the dark about the potential loss of important Award conditions, with several terms of the Agreement not properly explained to workers regarding pay rates, public holidays, hours of work and the NES. Without proper explanation, the FWC found that the Agreement was not genuinely agreed to and dismissed BHP’s application for its approval.

“BHP have been trying since 2018 to get an Agreement approved for their internal labour hire company,” said Mr Hughes.

“They would have been better off doing the right thing from the start and employing these workers under the existing arrangements at their BHP coal mines.”

OS Production workers are employed across BHP’s Queensland coal mines including Peak Downs, Saraji, Goonyella Riverside, Caval Ridge. 

Another OS Enterprise Agreement covering maintenance workers is going out to a vote by employees this week. The MEU is urging workers to take note of the FWC’s assessment of the Production Agreement and vote no.

Read the decision:

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