CONCERNED: Capricornia candidate Russell Robertson, Rohan Webb from the AMWU and Labor MP Brendan O'Connor discuss the threat of casualisation.
CONCERNED: Capricornia candidate Russell Robertson, Rohan Webb from the AMWU and Labor MP Brendan O'Connor discuss the threat of casualisation. JACK EVANS

Union and Labor team up against BHP employment deal

AT LEAST two local mines are under threat of over-casualisation following an agreement between BHP and the Fair Work Commission, according to union and Labor representatives.

The Caval Ridge Mine and Daunia Mine in Moranbah are BHP sites in the Central Queensland region open to the conditions of a new agreement.

An agreement signed last year between a legal entity of BHP and the FWC had no mention of restrictions on the employment of casual employees and according to the AMWU would impact working conditions.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and Labor representatives came out in force yesterday to make their opposition to the agreement known.

Penalties and working conditions could also come under fire in BHP's supposed move towards casualisation, and the AMWU believed as a result some workers could be looking at a $40,000 decrease in their annual wage.

Rohan Webb, state secretary of the Queensland and Northern Territory branches of the AWMU, said the new agreement was akin to BHP "creating their own labour hire company”.

"They can now use this 'company' to go into their existing mines and new mines on a lot less terms and conditions,” he said.

"Our worst fears about this agreement have been realised, with BHP pushing ahead with this stealth attack on working conditions.

"It doesn't past the pub test that nine employees somewhere in Australia can agree to reduce the working conditions of thousands of mining workers in Central Queensland.”

The agreement was supposedly signed off by six to nine BHP employees, however the copy of the agreement obtained by The Morning Bulletin had the entire signature page redacted.

Mr Webb challenged all candidates for Capricornia to hinder such an agreement.

Candidate Russell Robertson flanked by Labor MP Brendan O'Connor were among the first to answer the call.

Mr Robertson said the agreement would add to "the scourge of labour hire”.

"Again, this is an example of underhanded tactics from multinationals and they're being called out right here.”

Mr O'Connor, who would assume the role of employment and workplace relations minister if Labor was elected, committed to a raft of legislation to crack down on such employment deals.

"We have seen employers increasingly game industrial relations law to the detriment of workers,” he said.

"If elected, a Shorten Labor government would introduce a statutory definition confining casual in a way that it was originally intended.

"(We) will make sure that if a labour hire worker is on a site, their conditions and wages can be no less than a direct employee.”

Mr O'Connor hoped wage-matching legislation would deter future deals in the same vein being made.

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry had not heard of the agreement when asked for a response but she said "if that is the case, I will certainly be giving them a call”.

"I certainly don't agree with more casualisation,” she said.

In a response from BHP, a spokesperson said the company would not be commenting as the issue was now before the courts.

BHP did, however, state in a previous media release that permanent positions would be made available and the company would look to reduce the use of labour hire workers.



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