A multinational resources company will not offer outsourced mine workers the same conditions direct employees enjoy even though they were found to be paid less than the relevant award rates.
BHP’s in-house labour hire provider, Operations Services, is not interested in reaching a mutual agreement with the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) on guaranteeing all of its workers the same work conditions.
“We do not believe now is the time to engage in negotiations as we respect the ongoing process in the Fair Work Commission,” Operations Services vice president Mark Swinnerton said in a letter to the union.
The remarks came just weeks after the Fair Work Commission ruled two enterprise agreements from Operations Services failed to pay affected workers more than the relevant mining industry and black coal mining industry award rates.
Paid up to $50K less
CFMEU previously claimed some labour hire workers were paid between $30,000 and $50,000 a year less than their permanently employed BHP counterparts at coal operations, even though they wear BHP uniforms and perform the same work.
Labour hire staff were allegedly given no wage increases or accident pay throughout their four-year terms, and also could be relocated to other operations at any time under the agreement that took effect in December 2019.
“It is a very strange way to show your appreciation and belief in the value of these workers by deliberately paying them less to do the same job as other production and maintenance employees on the same sites,” CFMEU mining and energy general president Tony Maher said in a letter to BHP. “In fact, we could be forgiven for thinking that BHP’s purported commitment to opportunity and diversity is nothing more than a cynical public relations exercise designed to obscure the unequal treatment of Operations Services employees.”
Direct employment denied
The union is asking the proponent to revert to its previous enterprise agreements and offer both permanent and labour hire workers the same rate of pay.
“The notion of same pay, for the same work has deep roots in Australian workplace culture,” Maher said.
However, BHP indicated it would simply draft a new labour hire agreement that meets all legal requirements.
“I note the approval application processes for the Operations Services Production Agreement 2018 and the Operations Services Maintenance Agreement 2018 are ongoing in the Fair Work Commission,” Swinnerton said.
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He claimed existing Operations Services employees have raised “no concerns” about annual pay reviews, and that operators and maintainers were already earning $100,000 a year plus performance bonuses as well as annual, sick and paid parental leave.
“Operations Services offers market competitive rates to all of its employees,” he said. “More than 80,000 applications have been received for Operations Services roles since we commenced operation in April 2018 – this is a clear endorsement of how attractive the offering is to people right across Australia.”