Miner wins against BHP
Discipline over ‘parasites’ remark led to ‘personal injury’
A MORANBAH miner who dubbed labour hire companies “parasites” during a work meeting could be compensated after proving personal injury due to unfair disciplinary action by BHP.
The decision by the Workers’ Compensation Regulator on July 21, 2016, was later appealed by BHP, according to a published decision.
But the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission dismissed that appeal on September 8, finding in Kenneth Bailey and the regulator’s favour.
Now, BHP could have to pay Mr Bailey, who worked at Poitrel Mine in Moranbah, an amount which is still to be determined (costs reserved).
The saga began on September 30, 2015, when Mr Bailey attended a pre-start meeting.
Poitrel Mine management announced the provider of labour hire would change and any labour hire worker who wished to continue in employment would transition to a new provider, Mickala Mining.
“During the meeting, Mr Bailey referred to labour hire firms as ‘parasites’,” the decision reads.
“Representatives from Mickala Mining were present at the meeting, although this was not known by Mr Bailey.
“Mr Bailey was called to a meeting with his superintendent, Chris Smith, on October 10, 2015 where various performance and conduct issues were discussed and he was presented with a final warning about the ‘parasites’ comment.
“BHP acknowledges, and the Commission accepts, that Mr Bailey was a worker and that he sustained a personal injury that arose out of or in the course of his employment and because the injury was of a psychiatric or psychological nature, his employment was a major significant contributing factor to it.”
In evidence, Mr Smith said Mr Bailey had been issued with a final warning letter because his parasites comment was the “final straw” in an “escalating trend of outbursts and “harmfulness” towards the workforce at Poitrel Mine.
“However, under cross-examination, Mr Smith conceded that the final warning letter does not explain that the final warning was the culmination of a series of similar preceding incidents,” the decision reads.
Preceding the warning letter, Mr Bailey had been absent from the mine between December, 2014 and April, 2015, as he was suffering from a psychiatric or psychological disorder “as a result of mine management’s treatment of him”.
He tried and failed to get worker’s compensation in that instance.