BHP Billiton has taken on the opportunity to provide a submission to the Productivity Commission as it considers improvements to Australia’s workplace relations framework.
The resources giant recommended enhancements to the workplace relations framework, which could be made in the near term, would allow employees and employers to work together to support improvements to productivity and competitiveness in the Australian economy.
The company said the reform should focus on:
“Implementing current amendments to the Fair Work Act which are before the Parliament on right of entry provisions and agreement provisions for ‘greenfield’ sites;
Ensuring that the Fair Work Act restricts enterprise agreement content to terms of employment only and not operational matters that limit productivity improvements;
Truly supporting an employee’s choice of representation and equally enabling both non-union and union streams of enterprise bargaining;
Providing greater access to relief for employers where industrial action is taken and ensuring that protected industrial action is only available as a last resort; and
Amending the Fair Work Act provisions about adverse action to restore the limit on such claims to matters of victimisation due to union membership status or activity.”
In addition to these specific measures which can be implemented in the short term, BHP Billiton said it would encourage the Productivity Commission to facilitate a discussion on what is required to ensure the regulatory framework evolves to keep pace with other jurisdictions and to ensure enhanced employment outcomes for Australia in the longer term.
BHP Billiton directly employs approximately 23,000 people and indirectly engages approximately 34,000 contractor employees at its 35 operations across Australia.
Of the approximately US$25 billion that BHP Billiton contributed to the Australian economy in 2014, about US$4 billion was via employee benefits and expenses.
BHP Billiton President – Coal Mike Henry said BHP Billiton believes safe and productive workplaces are built on mutual respect, open and transparent communication, and through fostering an environment for employee development.
“BHP Billiton invests in major industrial infrastructure and equipment that is able to operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year,” Mr Henry said.
“Achieving a safe and productive return on this significant investment is enabled by an appropriate workplace relations framework. In turn, the successful conduct of its operations allows BHP Billiton to contribute strongly to the Australian economy.”