BHP Mandates Covid Vaccine Amid Fears Of Rising Infections
Mining a path forward
One of the world's largest mining companies, BHP has mandated Covid vaccines for all staff, contractors, and visitors, including those on sites and in offices from January 31.
The mining giant announced their mandatory Covid policy on Thursday, joining a myriad of industries in steering the economy amid a pandemic and fears over escalating infections once states and territories open up.
BHP president of Minerals Australia Edgar Basto said the mandate comes after a “thorough review of the effectiveness of its COVID-19 health and safety controls, the latest scientific evidence and expert health advice”.
“The science is clear that widespread vaccination saves lives,” Mr Basto said.
“In line with government guidance, we recognise the path forward is through widespread vaccination in Australia, and we are looking at a range of practical ways to support that while protecting communities and workforces.”
“As restrictions ease, we anticipate a corresponding increase in the circulation of the virus in the community within the weeks that follow as has been experienced in other countries,” he said in an email to employees.
The mandate falls in line with Western Australia's recent public health decree requiring mine workers to have received their first vaccine by December 1 and be double dosed by January 1.
Not surprising, the news was met with mixed reactions particularly from union officials in Queensland, where the company runs nine metallurgical coal mines.
Stephen Smyth, of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, said the union fervently did not support the decision.
“Some of our immediate concerns include fair treatment of casuals and contractors on BHP sites – keeping in mind that a minority of workers on BHP’s Queensland mine sites are direct employees; support for workers with a genuine medical exemption, and paid time for workers to get vaccinated or in case of experiencing vaccine-related side effects,”
- Stephen Smyth
Meanwhile, Australian Mines and Metals Association president Steve Knott has called on the state government to step in and mediate a strike with the maritime union after sightings of ships carrying critical mining and agricultural machinery bypass Fremantle port.
“It’s highly irresponsible for the CFMEU to block the unloading of large international cargo carriers at Fremantle Port at a time when interstate movement of freight is difficult, costly and a proven risk of introducing COVID-19 into virus-free regions.”
- Steve Knott
Mr Knott said if Premier McGowan does not intervene and put an end to the industrial action, they would be compelled to approach the Federal government to use their influence with the Fair Work Act to end the strike once and for all.
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