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.
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,” he said.
Looking after the rights of maintenance workers on mine sites, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union Queensland secretary Rohan Webb, said “on the issue of mandatory vaccination, workers can rest assured the AMWU will defend their rights”.
“We are communicating with other mining sector unions and are seeking legal advice to work through BHP’s decision.”
- Rohan Webb
Ironically the same day, Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young visited Mackay to boost morale and vaccination rates where they are among the lowest in the country.
"There hasn't been that push to get vaccinated that we've seen in other places," Dr Young said.
"Now, today, is the time to get vaccinated."
- Dr Young
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