IT appears BHP is in everyone's line of fire at the moment.
One Nation candidate Stuart Bonds, who pushed Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon all the way at the previous federal election, queried the mining giant's alleged sub-standard safety practices at Mt Arthur Coal near Muswellbrook earlier this week and, on Thursday, November 7, the CFMEU questioned the board over the poor treatment of workers.
BHP shareholders were told that the use of an internal labour hire subsidiary to cut the wages and conditions of workers at its coal mines was affecting production and damaging the organisation's standing in mining communities.
A delegation of worker and community representatives, including Muswellbrook Shire mayor Martin Rush, attended BHP's annual general meeting in Sydney and quizzed executives about issues, comprising the roll-out of new labour hire subsidiary Operations Services (OS).
As well as working on much lower pay and worse conditions than direct BHP employees, resulting in high turnover, the latest insult for OS workers is being told they must work on Christmas Day.
Their questions covered the poor treatment of the OS workforce and the very high turnover and staff shortages on OS crews at mines in NSW and Queensland, affecting production.
CFMEU Mining and Energy Northern District vice-president Jeff Drayton, who represents workers at Mt Arthur, said shareholders deserved to know what was going on at the site.
"Workers are voting with their feet," he stated.
"There's very high turnover.
"Mining is hard work and if people aren't getting the pay and conditions they won't stick around.
"BHP needs the support of the communities it operates in.
"Alienating workers by cutting wages and cancelling Christmas is simply bad for business.
"Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the response to our concerns was dismissive.
"We'll continue to fight for the interests of mineworkers and mining communities affected by BHP's poor corporate behaviour."
Peak Downs mineworker and CFMEU delegate Scott Leggett, who travelled to Sydney for the AGM, said the OS workers beside him deserved the same pay and conditions as those on BHP's site agreement.
Unlike permanents, OS workers have been told they must work Christmas Day - with some distressed at having rosters meaning they'll work six of the next seven Christmases.
In the AGM, he challenged BHP executives and board members about whether they would be working six of the next seven Christmas Days, before asking: "Is BHP the Grinch who stole Christmas?"
"I wanted to bring it to the attention of shareholders, the board and the wider community what BHP is doing to these people, it's nothing short of scandalous," Mr Leggett said.
The union has been told of very high turnover and short-staffing at all mines where OS has been deployed, with people leaving due to a range of issues including payment for flights being cut.
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