November 27, 2022
BHP broke the law and must compensate a labour hire miner they sacked after she raised safety concerns, the Federal Court has ruled in a big win for contractors.
In a long-running case fought by our union, the Federal Court found that BHP Coal took adverse action against our member Kim Star by ‘demobilising’ her position and excluding her from the mine after she refused to operate in a poorly-lit area at Goonyella Riverside mine in 2017.
BHP must now provide compensation.
The Fair Work Commission previously found that Kim Star had been unfairly dismissed by her employer WorkPac, who sacked her three days after BHP demobilised her position. Even after the Fair Work Commission ordered her reinstatement, BHP fought her return to the mine.
Queensland President Steve Smyth said that Kim Star’s case showed the precarious position of contractors in mining and the Federal Court decision exposed hypocrisy and injustice in the industry.
“Kim Star was a typical worker in the Queensland coal industry, working for BHP for years as a contractor through WorkPac.
“When she refused to operate in unsafe conditions – as she has the legal right and the obligation to do – BHP said they didn’t want her anymore and WorkPac promptly sacked her.
“Both the Fair Work Commission and the Federal Court have now ruled in Ms Star’s favour. Today’s decision underlines the reality that multinationals like BHP like using labour hire workers because they are easy to get rid of. They ultimately call the shots when it comes to employment arrangements on their mines.
“Our union has been proud to back Ms Star and we continue to be impressed by her courage and determination.
“Because she has stood up to BHP, it will now be much harder for them to treat their contractors as disposable labour. It’s a fantastic win that is another step in the fight for more permanent, secure jobs in mining.”