CORONAVIRUS: High-risk BHP workers across Queensland mines and offices have been ordered to work from home or take paid leave amid the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Christopher Russell
CORONAVIRUS: High-risk BHP workers across Queensland mines and offices have been ordered to work from home or take paid leave amid the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Christopher Russell

Mining giant orders high-risk workers off Qld sites

HIGH-RISK BHP workers across Bowen Basin mines and offices have been ordered to work from home or take paid leave amid the virus crisis.

The major shake-up has affected all BHP employees over 65, over 50 for indigenous people, anyone with a chronic disease and those who are pregnant.

The directive includes BHP Mitsubishi Alliance and BHP Mitsui Coal workers. It is understood the move has affected thousands of workers across Queensland.

A BMA spokesman said it was one of the measures being taken by the mining giant to support people in the identified higher risk groups for COVID-19.

"There are certain groups within the workforce that are at a higher risk of contracting the novel coronavirus," he said.

 

A coronavirus test sample.
A coronavirus test sample.

The CFMEU welcomed the paid discretionary leave, but flagged major a number of concerns.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said while permanent employees were able to access paid leave, he feared labour hire and contractor workers would miss out.

" … BHP must act urgently to make sure all vulnerable workers on its sites are treated fairly and don't lose their jobs because they are in an at-risk group," Mr Smyth said.

 

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland District president Stephen Smyth.
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland District president Stephen Smyth.

The BMA spokesman said that in line with World Health Organisation guidelines, "we are taking additional measures to support their ongoing wellbeing - in close consultation with doctors and public health experts".

Staff in roles which cannot be carried out from home will be required to take paid discretionary leave.

"While it hasn't been easy to ask some of our longest serving people to work from home, or take paid discretionary leave, rather than operate their beloved equipment alongside their mates as they have done for decades, this is what we have done to protect their ongoing wellbeing and health," the spokesman said.

"We look forward to when this pandemic has passed and all people working at BMA's mines can return to them to do what they do best together."


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