Major privacy breach at BHP Billiton upsets CFMEU Mining and Energy

THE CFMEU Mining and Energy has written to BHP Billiton this week expressing concern about multiple breaches of employee privacy affecting members of the union in Queensland and New South Wales.

It’s come to light over the past couple of days that up to 2000 of BHP's 23,000 national workforce were affected.

The Muswellbrook Chronicle understands workers at Mt Arthur Coal were also warned about posting any grievances on social media, with threats of instant dismissal if they did so.

“It is deeply disappointing that BHP Billiton has failed to address a problem with its payroll system, which has resulted in PAYG payment summaries being emailed to incorrect email addresses and employees inadvertently being given access to other workers’ employment and tax records,” president Tony Maher said.

The CFMEU has asked BHP Billiton to address the problem immediately.

The letter, to Mike Henry, president operations, BHP Minerals, says: “The response of your company at site level has been dismissive and unsatisfactory, with employees being merely told to delete the offending emails.”

Mr Maher said it was unacceptable that BHP had failed to fix a problem, which had occurred on numerous occasions and had caused distress to its employees.

“We have asked BHP to take immediate steps to rectify this disclosure of sensitive employee data, notify workers about the steps being taken to fix the problem and offer employees an apology for the privacy breach,” he said.

A spokesman for the mining company said it had launched an investigation into the disclosure of confidential payroll information to incorrect recipients.

"Contact is being made with all potentially affected people and we will work to both rectify the situation and understand the causes,” he said.