||Issue No. 246||12 November 2004|
How It Comes To This
Interview: The Reich Stuff
Economics: Crime and Punishment
Environment: Beyond The Wedge
International: The End Of The Lucky Country
Safety: Tests Fail Tests
Politics: Labo(u)r Day
Human Rights: Arabian Lights
History: Labour's Titan
Review: Foxy Fiasco
Poetry: Then I Saw The Light
The Locker Room
Mothball Bowls Port Hedland
BHP Billiton marked the fifth anniversary of its introduction of individual non-union agreements, this week, by announcing the mothballing of its Boodarie iron plant, putting hundreds of local families on the line.
ACTU organiser, Will Tracey, is urging the multinational to level with the workforce and a dependent community.
"BHP management knows what is going to do but it is keeping Port Hedland and the workers in limbo," Tracey said. "There are jobs available inside the BHP operation and those positions should be embargoed for Boodarie employees.
"Financial advisers and employment consultants should be here to help families whose futures have been thrown into jeopardy. It's the absolute least a company of BHP's size and capacity should provide.
"This company extracts $2 million in profit out of the Pilbara every day."
Boodarie has been idle since 32-year-old fitter, James Wadley, was killed in a horrific explosion in May. He was one of three men killed that month at BHP Pilbara operations, sparking a government inquiry into health and safety standards.
Unions say BHP's OH&S record has fallen victim to AWAs based on unrealistic productivity requirements.
After an AMWU delegate was killed at another Port Hedland site, in May, posters exhorting workers to greater tonnage figures were quickly removed from the workplace.
Tracey says the Port Hedland community is now paying for BHP's profit drive. It commissioned the massive $2.5 billion Boodarie operation without a pilot plan, standard for such developments around the world.
The project has been plagued by production and safety issues, ever since.
Last week, with the state government safety audit continuing, BHP announced Boodarie would go into "care and maintenance" mode.
That requires barely 50 maintenance workers and is being viewed by WA media outlets and townspeople as a step on the road to closure.
"BHP rushed Boodarie on line and it has been a disaster from day one," Tracey said. "It needn't be because these types of operation run properly in other parts of the world.
"Right now people don't know where they stand. Port Hedland is an isolated community without many of the facilities and support mechanisms people can fall back on in the cities.
"BHP owes this community a lot more than it provides. The truth about these jobs would be a start."
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|