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Playing with fire: BHP thumbs nose at unions with jab mandate on all workers

Business

BHP is heading for a potential clash with the mining union after it today announced mandatory COVID vaccination as a condition of entry to its Australian sites and offices.

 

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The policy will come into effect no later than January 31 and apply to staff, contractors and visitors, but will be introduced sooner in workplaces that are at high risk such as Mt Arthur Coal in NSW.

The company said the decision was based on a thorough review of the effectiveness of its COVID-19 health and safety controls, the latest scientific evidence and expert health advice.

BHP Minerals Australia president Edgar Basto said the science was clear that widespread vaccination saved lives. 

“In line with Government guidance, we recognise the path forward is through widespread vaccination in Australia and we are looking at a range of practical ways to support that while protecting communities and workforces,’’ Basto said.

“We have undertaken a thorough assessment and believe that this is the right path forward to protect the health of our people, their families and the communities where we operate – including remote Indigenous communities – while continuing to safely run our operations. 

“We know this raise will questions for some, and we will work closely with our workforce as we go through the process of implementing these controls at our workplaces.”

Mining and Energy Union Queensland district president Stephen Smyth his organisation did not support mandatory vaccination.

“We have strongly advocated to government and industry that COVID-19 vaccinations should be voluntary for mineworkers, with the high rates we need to protect safety better achieved through education, access and incentives,’’ Smyth said. 

“BHP must engage in genuine consultation with the workforce. 

“Some of our immediate concerns include fair treatment of casuals and contractors on BHP sites – keeping in mind that a minority of workers on BHP’s Queensland mine sites are direct employees; support for workers with a genuine medical exemption and paid time for workers to get vaccinate or in case of experiencing vaccine-related side-effects. 

“Our priority is protecting our members’ jobs, rights and working conditions as we work through the workforce and legal implications of BHP’s decision.’’ 

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