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BHP defends ‘appalling’ response to same job, same pay legislation

By Nick Wilson | |5 minute read

In a move labelled “shameful” by the Mining and Energy Union (MEU), BHP claims the same job, same pay regulation would undermine female and Indigenous representation.

BHP has claimed the Closing Loopholes Bill, if passed, would cost the company $1.3 billion per year and would threaten to make its apprentice and traineeship unfeasible.

“These are costs which cannot simply be absorbed and will create difficult decisions for the entire resources sector about making cuts to offset the impact of the bill, deferring or cancelling investments, or ultimately closing mines when the underlying cost base becomes uncompetitive,” said BHP.


In its submission to the Closing Loopholes Bill Senate inquiry, BHP claimed that requiring it to provide the same pay for all its workers under a legislated same job, same pay arrangement would be “prohibitively expensive”.

In that same submission, BHP claimed that its in-house labour-hire subsidiary Operations Services (OS) and OS training pathway FutureFit, which could be endangered by the legislation, were critical to BHP’s plans to increase female and Indigenous employment.

In response, MEU acting Queensland district president Mitch Hughes said: “BHP has built an employment model on unfair foundations – where some workers are paid less than others for doing the same job, merely to boost BHP’s mega profits.”

“Their admission they are using this model as a vehicle to boost representation of women and Indigenous workers is appalling,” added Mr Hughes.

Mr Hughes also claimed the company had inflated the costs of implementing the changes required under the Closing Loopholes Bill: “BHP are adding up projects that don’t exist yet and projects not covered by enterprise agreements, decades into the future.”

BHP has called the bill the most significant and consequential change to Australian workplace relations since WorkChoices. The $1.3 billion figure would cost the same as hiring an additional 5,000 full-time employees across its operational workforce.

According to Mr Hughes: “BHP can afford to employ coal mineworkers on the enterprise agreements they negotiate for this very workforce. They can afford to achieve gender balance and greater Indigenous representation while also paying people fairly.

“They don’t need special cut-price labour hire subsidiaries and training pathways to achieve diversity goals; and they certainly shouldn’t be threatening to trash these goals if they are required to pay all workers at the appropriate site rate.”

These comments come after BHP iron ore train drivers in Western Australia voted overwhelmingly in favour of taking protected industrial action to secure “fair and consistent conditions” in their enterprise agreement, said the MEU.

The drivers called for guaranteed annual pay increases and consistent standards in training, consultation, accommodation, dispute resolution and so on.

“The ballot sends a strong message to BHP that iron ore train drivers have had a gutful and are willing to take strong action,” said MEU Western Australia secretary Greg Busson.



Training is the process of enhancing a worker's knowledge and abilities to do a certain profession. It aims to enhance trainees' work behaviour and performance on the job.

Nick Wilson

Nick Wilson

Nick Wilson is a journalist with HR Leader. With a background in environmental law and communications consultancy, Nick has a passion for language and fact-driven storytelling.