BHP stands down workers over refusal to show 'vaccine status'

The CMFEU is challenging the decision with the Fair Work Commission

BHP stands down workers over refusal to show 'vaccine status'

Approximately 50 employees at mining company BHP have been stood down without pay after the firm's vaccine mandate took effect on Thursday. BHP's vaccine order states that employees must have their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine by November 11, and then their second one by January 31.

Initially, about 80 employees were uncompliant and refused to disclose their vaccination status when the first deadline arrived. Following a conversation with the company, however, this number declined to around 50. Those 50 workers were told not to report to work on Wednesday, Sky News revealed. The said employees worked at BHP's Mt Arthur thermal coal mine in New South Wales.

The company, which has nearly 1,000 employees on site, reiterated that the mandate is to protect their workers, their families, communities, as well as the remote Indigenous communities. The company has yet to reveal how many contractors are affected by the mandate, given that they are also covered under it.

Read more: BHP workers fired after reports of sexual harassment

CMFEU challenges move

Meanwhile, the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CMFEU) said that it will provide assistance for the affected members and will continue fighting what it described as a "heavy-handed approach" by the BHP.

According to the CMFEU, they’re challenging the implementation of the mandate with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) - a full bench will hear the case on November 24 and the decision likely be made public in early December.

"The FWC decision will determine whether employer mandatory vaccination policies in the mining industry can be prevented or are lawful and therefore likely to be implemented widely," the CMFEU said in a statement.

The union initially attempted to request for interim time with the FWC to prevent BHP from taking actions against its staff. However, it was rejected by FWC deputy president Tony Saunders, who upheld BHP's right to prevent unvaccinated workers from entering the company's sites. CMFEU has been firm that vaccination mandates should be the decision of the government, not employers.

"We maintain our strong view that industry-based vaccination mandates are a matter for government based on public health advice, not individual employers," they said, adding: "The NSW Government does not consider mandatory vaccinations necessary in the mining industry – so it shouldn’t be up to BHP to impose."

Recent articles & video

What is the federal government's 'deregulation agenda'?

Casino worker wins $120K because she wasn't invited to work drinks

Western Australia reports 'best in the nation' jobs market

Executive coach reveals HR's secret weapon in the Great Resignation

Most Read Articles

Goldman Sachs gives its senior leaders uncapped leave

90% of female employees suffer from Imposter Syndrome

International HR Day: HR is burning out – it's time take a break