Christmas scrooge? Forced holiday work leaves miners fuming
A MINERS' union is calling on BHP to "stop being the scrooge who stole Christmas" in forcing some staff to work this Christmas and Boxing Day.
The CFMEU said the mining giant should instead apply the longstanding practice of calling for volunteers and providing extra remuneration.
A BHP spokesman said it was committed to helping its workforce strike a balance between safe, continuous operations and spending the holidays with family.
The union said those employed in BHP's subsidiary, Operations Services, were rostered on to work Christmas and Boxing Day last year with no choice or additional remuneration.
It is now taking legal action over last year's events and is calling for a change this year.
It is understood OS team members' annual base salaries include extra pay specifically to reflect the fact that they work on public holidays, nights and weekends from time to time.
An OS worker at one of BHP's Bowen Basin mines, who asked not to be named, said he had worked four Christmases on double, or sometimes, triple pay.
But he understood they would not receive extra pay this year.
"It's two days that are supposed to be spent with family," the worker said.
"They haven't mentioned anything about letting people off for religious reasons."
He said there needed to be a consistent approach across all Bowen Basin sites where people could volunteer to work the holidays on extra pay.
CFMEU mining and energy Queensland president Stephen Smyth said this system was a "good compromise" that was in line with workplace laws.
"This year, we are calling on BHP to stop being the scrooge who stole Christmas and allow these workers choice over how they spend this important time, the same choice that is provided to the permanent workforce," Mr Smyth said.
"For many people, especially with young families, it's the most important day of the year. 'There are many others who would be happy to work these days for additional pay.
"The coal will still be there on December 27, but Santa will be long gone."
The BHP spokesman said the company was in the process of finalising work plans and resourcing requirements for the holiday season.
"The nature of a mining business means we do operate year-round to meet our commitments to our customers, and we appreciate the efforts of our people to keep our operations running safely through the Christmas period," he said.
This week, the CFMEU wrote to BHP chief executive Mike Henry to question plans for this year and urged the mining giant to respect standard practice.
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