Some of the most vulnerable mine workers have allegedly gone without pay for months due to the pandemic.
BHP has ordered labour hire employees across the nation to stay at home if they have a severe health condition, are aged 65 or over, or at least 50-years-old in the case of Indigenous Australians, in order to minimise the risk of catching the Chinese coronavirus.
12 weeks without pay
The proponent’s April announcement allegedly promised affected workers would receive paid leave but at least eight employees from the Mount Arthur Coal Mine claim they have not received any payment since the beginning of July.
The workers also claim labour hire provider Chandler Macleod created significant financial hardship by refusing to continue paying them or alternatively redeploy them to other mines.
Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) is now taking legal action against both the mine and Chandler Macleod to help recover wages lost from being excluded from work due to race, age and physical disability. The union also described them as casual workers, meaning they neither accrue paid holidays nor other leave entitlements.
“BHP’s stated aim was to protect vulnerable workers from the health effects of COVID and that is a worthwhile aim but it has exposed BHP’s disgraceful practice of employing at least half its workforce through insecure and casualised labour hire arrangements, resulting in serious financial loss for these workers,” CFMEU northern mining and NSW energy district president Peter Jordan said in a public statement.
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BHP has responded to the complaint by promising to reinstate the affected employees. However, neither the proponent nor the labour hire provider have so far agreed to pay for nearly 12 weeks of lost income between July and September.