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Mining giant accused of undercutting permanent workers through labour hire

BHP workers
BHP workers

A global resources company is accused of setting up an in house labour hire subsidiary to pay mine workers much less than their permanently employed colleagues.

The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) claims BHP set up two new Operation Services labour hire arms for $1 each to avoid the need to negotiate site agreements with the trade union.

Operations Services workers, who are assigned to work at BHP coal mines, wear BHP uniforms and perform the same work as permanent employees but are paid 40 per cent less according to CFMMEU. They also do not receive some worker benefits such as accident pay, the union said.

Paid $50K less

QMEB understands hundreds of labour hire people are currently being recruited and deployed through Operation Services and being paid by up to $50,000 a year less than permanent workers.

CFMMEU president Tony Maher questioned BHP’s new strategy to use labour hire workers after the devastating impact of casualisation of the workforce across the industry.

“BHP have led the destructive casual outsourcing charge and now they’ve found an even trickier way to drive down wages by outsourcing jobs to themselves,” he said in a public statement.

“Many of these Operation Services hires thought they were getting a proper job at BHP, because that’s the way it’s sold to them. Then they find out they’re earning 40 per cent less with worse conditions. It’s causing huge discord at coal mines. Unsurprisingly, turnover within Operation Services is also high, which is disruptive and bad for safety.”

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Money saved flows to investors

Maher suggests the mining company’s decision to create “cut price workforce” was only going to benefit shareholders.

“BHP is stripping money from Australian mining communities and transferring it directly to its shareholders, and this is a company that already delivered record dividends this year,” he said.

“BHP shareholders are doing incredibly well out of Australia’s coal, so the bare minimum BHP could do is offer Australians decent mining jobs with proper site conditions.”

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