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FIFO labour hire workers come forward about poor work conditions

BHP mine worker
Mine worker

A mining giant has been accused of using outsourcing to avoid paying for essential work equipment, performance-related bonuses, and even travel to and from work.

Several Operations Services (OS) labour hire workers have anonymously complained about work conditions at a number of BHP operations.

‘Only positive feedback’ allowed

One employee accused OS management of failing to tolerate negative comments at staff meetings, and even criticising employees who discussed work-related problems.

“We are not permitted to voice any issues at pre start, only positive feedback. I was shot down when I raised my concerns on this,” the employee said according to the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) website.

Paid for work tools

Another employee privately complained about not being provided with equipment required to do the job.

“I am a fitter but in OS I am also a travel agent, training coordinator etc, never had that before in FIFO. I [also] 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,” the worker said.

“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.”

Mystery bonus

A third worker, who has been nearly a year on the job, is still waiting for clarity on how much the performance-related bonus will be.

“No one can tell us how exactly how much bonus we get. [This] should not be the case when it is put into your package,” the employee said.

Paying triple for flights

Still other OS workers have complained about having to pay three times more on fly-in fly-out (FIFO) airfares between Townsville and the mine site than permanent BHP coworkers.

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

“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.”

Pay cut if bus arrives late

It is a similar story for bus-in bus-out employees who are late, even if it is the employer’s fault.

“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,” one employee said.

4 per cent satisfaction

CFMEU recently surveyed 492 OS workers and found 92 per cent were dissatisfied with their wages and conditions, only 4 per cent were satisfied while the rest were unsure.

Nearly a third of respondents (32 per cent) were not confident about raising safety issues without fear of reprisal.

“They cannot raise issues, their travel arrangements are difficult and expensive, their training is substandard and their pay is far below industry standards,” CFMEU mining and energy Queensland president Stephen Smyth said in a public statement.

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“BHP provided OS workers with copies of enterprise agreements containing the same substandard agreements as those recently ruled invalid by the Fair Work Commission,” Smyth added.

“The move shows BHP is refusing to listen to its workforce and not affording them the right to have a say in enterprise bargaining.”

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