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Northern Mining & NSW Energy

NSW South Western




Western Australia

Operations Services: finally at the bargaining table, now have your say

December 17, 2020

Union representatives have met with BHP for the first time to negotiate new agreements for Operations Services maintenance and production workers.

The meetings were short, but it is a big achievement to get BHP to the bargaining table after our long legal challenge to knock off the original, substandard EAs.

BHP has since circulated ‘safety net’ agreements to employees for feedback. These agreements reflect the conditions in the EAs ruled invalid by the Fair Work Commission and would lock in substandard conditions. If BHP rushes to a vote on these agreements it’s important that members are ready to vote NO.

The Union’s focus will now be on developing logs of claims for the OS Maintenance and Production agreements. All OS employees are urged to fill out our Bargaining Survey:

This lets you nominate your priorities for inclusion in a new agreement.

Initial results show that wages more closely aligned with other BHP agreements, guaranteed annual wage increases and public holiday clause recognising Christmas and Boxing Day as non-working days are top priorities for workers.

Further bargaining meetings will be held with OS in January and February 2021.

Despite BHP spin about how happy the workforce is, our previous survey of OS workers found just 4% are satisfied that their wages and conditions stack up with Queensland coal industry standards.

Of 492 Queensland-based OS workers who completed our previous survey, 92% said their wages and conditions were not competitive and need improvement, another 4% were unsure.

Concerns included pay, unpaid overtime and not getting crib breaks in the specified period.

Concerningly, one in three respondents (32%) to the survey reported that they were not confident about raising safety issues without fear of being targeted.

Queensland District Senior Vice President Mitch Hughes said OS workers had a legal right to genuine bargaining and despite pressure from BHP to accept lowest-common-denominator conditions, there was no threat to their jobs or livelihoods from bargaining for a better deal.

“BHP have made it clear they won’t willingly hand over the pay and conditions OS workers deserve. But that’s to be expected. Everything workers win from big mining companies is achieved through collective action – we have the experience and determination to stand with workers and get a better deal.”

What OS workers say:

“I am a fitter but in OS I’m also a travel agent, training coordinator etc, never had that before in FIFO. I have to pay for my own tools even though it was made clear in the interview and frequently asked questions that all tooling was to be provided.”

“We are not permitted to voice any issues at prestart. Only positive feedback. I was shot down when I raised my concerns on this.”

“10 months into job, no one can tell us how exactly how much bonus we get. Should not be the case when it is put into your package.”

“FIFO employees from Townsville catch a Qantas charter flight. BMA and other labour hire employees pay $120 return. OS employees pay $385 and have to take annual leave to get on the flight that leaves after Wednesday day shift.”

“Flights from Brisbane are an issue, supervisors/management and office staff all have their flights chartered and covered by BHP. Production workers like myself catch the same flight but the cost comes out of our post tax salary.”

“Our contract sucks – being paid 30k less than BMA workers doing the same job on the same site. Having to pay for your own flights, when supers have them paid.”

“It says in our contracts all tooling is supplied. It has not been supplied and needs to be supplied or a tool allowance needs to be implemented into salary.”

“Employees are forced to use buses instead of driving to and from site but are not compensated for the extra hour a day we are waiting or on buses.”

“I have brought up safety and they then took away the promise of upskilling, the course which I was told I was doing. I am out of pocket financially due to having to rebook over-priced charter flights twice due to this.”

“Christmas and Boxing Day (we are) expected to work while all other workers on site at BMA including labour hire and contractors have the right to take the time off or be paid penalty rates for working.”

“People are way too scared to speak up. It’s push, push, push, production, production, production all the time.”


Cartoon by Harry Bruce

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