BHP, the country’s largest mining company, will make the COVID-19 vaccine a condition of entry into its Australian workplaces from January.
After a review of its health protocols and the latest scientific evidence, BHP informed staff on Thursday that it needed to be fully vaccinated by January 31 to access all sites and offices.
“The science is clear that widespread vaccination saves lives,” said Edgar Basto, Australian mining manager for BHP. “As per government guidance, we recognize that the way forward is with widespread vaccination in Australia, and we are looking at a range of practical ways to support this while protecting communities and the workforce.”
The move comes after the government of Western Australia, home to BHP’s flagship iron ore mining company, said earlier this week that all workers in the natural resources sector, including the exploration, mining, oil and gas, must have had their first stroke of COVID-19 by January 1 to help protect vulnerable indigenous communities.
Other Australian companies such as Telstra, fruit and vegetable giant SPC, and airlines Qantas and Virgin also recently confirmed that vaccines will be made mandatory for some or all of their workers, and are now set to roll out these rules. .
BHP’s announcement on Thursday met immediate resistance from union officials in Queensland, where the company operates nine metallurgical coal mines.
Stephen Smyth, of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, said he did not support the decision.
“Some of our immediate concerns include the fair treatment of casual workers and contractors at BHP sites – bearing in mind that a minority of workers at BHP mine sites in Queensland are direct employees; support for workers with genuine medical exemption and paid time for workers to be vaccinated or in the event of vaccine-related side effects, ”he said.