BHP draws flak for 'unfounded' claims about Same Job, Same Pay policy

Mining giant claims new legislation will cost company $1.3 billion

BHP draws flak for 'unfounded' claims about Same Job, Same Pay policy

Mining giant BHP is facing backlash for claiming that the government's proposed Same Job, Same Pay (SJSP) policy would cost the company up to $1.3 billion annually and potentially affect its workforce.

"This cost is equivalent to the labour cost of approximately 5,000 full-time employees across our operational workforce," BHP said in a statement quoted by The Age.

"In order to address a cost impact of this magnitude, we will clearly need to review its implications for our Australian operations and the workforce that supports it."

The statement, however, was met with criticism from Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke, who questioned the validity of the company's estimates.

The Same Job, Same Pay proposal wants to grant labour hires the same entitlements that their permanent colleagues are getting. Burke, however, pointed out that the details of the policy are "not yet settled," which makes it unclear how BHP came up with the potential costs.

"The details of this policy are not yet settled. That is the point of the consultation we're doing with BHP and others," he said as quoted by The Age.

Labour hire 'loophole'

Burke previously referred to the labour hire system as a "loophole" that undercuts what casual employees are getting compared to what has been set as the rate of pay for employees.

"I get that employers will argue against anything that involves an increased wages bill. I get that. But where you have loopholes, you need to close them," he told Sky News in an interview.

"If we have tax loopholes, we get out there and close them to protect government revenue. Workers should get the same treatment. If there are loopholes that are undercutting their rates of pay, government needs to act and we will."

‘Unfounded fear campaign’ about SJSP

Meanwhile, the Mining and Energy Union (MEU) also slammed BHP's "unfounded fear campaign" and accused the company of being afraid to share its profits with workers.

"BHP is right to fear that Same Job Same Pay will lift their wages bill, because they have been exploiting labour hire mineworkers for years," said MEU general president Tony Maher in a statement.

According to Maher, BHP exploited labour hires by not paying them properly and not granting them conditions that can be achieved through genuine enterprise bargaining.

"Same Job, Same Pay laws will close this loophole," Maher said. "Our mining companies have been pocketing billions in record profits from Australian commodities and they can afford to do the right thing by the workers generating the wealth."

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