Miner wins against BHP

Dis­ci­pline over ‘par­a­sites’ re­mark led to ‘per­sonal in­jury’

Daily Mercury - - NEWS - Luke Mor­timer luke.mor­timer@dai­ly­mer­cury.com.au

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.

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