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Australian Labour Tribunal Overturns BHP Jab Mandate

Fair Work Commission says BHP failed to comply with consultation obligations. It is the first firm to mandate vaccines and its order overturned. Challenges to public sector mandates have failed

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The Mount Arthur thermal coal mine in Muswellbrook, New South Wales. Photo: BHP

 

Australian mining giant BHP’s attempt to require all staff at a massive coal mine to be vaccinated against Covid-19 has been rejected by the country’s industrial relations tribunal in a blow to all private sector jab mandates.

The Fair Work Commission found BHP had failed to properly comply with its consultation obligations and therefore could not show that its mandate was reasonable.

Consultation with employees “would have provided a strong case in favour of a conclusion that the site access requirement was a reasonable direction,” the commission said in its ruling.

BHP is the first company to mandate vaccines and have that decision overturned. All challenges to public sector jab mandates so far have failed.

Last month, unvaccinated miners at BHP’s Mount Arthur coal mine in New South Wales were stood down without pay. The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) sought to overturn the mandate.

“We maintain our strong view that industry-based vaccination mandates are a matter for government based on public health advice, not individual employers,” the CFMEU said.

The commission’s decision does not mean other mandates, such as at Qantas or Telstra are invalid, but they are open to challenge.

“We acknowledge that employers face a difficult task in managing the risks for their workers in such a dynamic environment,” the commission noted.

 

  • George Russell

 

 

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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.

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