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AWU wins battle against BHP labour hire agreement

November 13, 2020

After a lengthy campaign by the AWU and Mining Division of the CFMEU along with other unions, the FWC has now dismissed BHP’s applications for approval of two labour hire agreements.

A Full Bench has found the agreements were not genuinely agreed by the relevant employees because BHP denied them access to critical information about wage rates.

If BHP’s dodgy agreements had been approved, thousands of miners would have been worse off across the country.

AWU National Secretary Dan Walton welcomed the news and said “this should put an end to BHP’s cynical attempts to undermine the hard fought pay and conditions of its workers. It’s time for BHP to sit down with its workforce and bargain properly about their pay and conditions.”

This battle stretches back to when the Federal Court WorkPac v Skene judgment disrupted BHP’s business model of using casual labour hire employees to save employment costs.

In response BHP decided to set up their own labour hire companies: OS MCAP Pty Ltd and OS ACPM Pty Ltd. BHP then arranged for a small group of employees to approve enterprise agreements covering production and maintenance work across the mining industry.

However, when drafting the agreements, BHP got greedy. They included only one salary rate for a specified roster pattern and said employees engaged under different roster patterns would have their pay determined by the same “principles”.

The problem was, BHP didn’t tell the employees or the FWC what the “principles” are. For all the employees and the FWC knew, the “principles” may have been the following written on the back of a beer coaster: “BHP will pay you whatever they want”.

By working together AWU members have been able to block these agreements and protect their pay and conditions.

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