The Supreme Court challenge related to the manner in which BMA sought to implement the new procedure and the associated voting requirements prescribed by the Coal Mining Safety and Health Regulation 2001, according to the Construction Mining Forestry and Energy Union.
The Regulation requires the company to seek the agreement of workers to implement the proposed changes. While less than half the workers at the mine agreed to the change in procedure, the change was approved. The union argued that those who did not vote on the issue should be deemed to have disagreed with the change.
CFMEU Mining and Energy division Queensland District President Steve Smyth said the union supports appropriate and responsible measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of coal mine workers and any suggestion to the contrary is irresponsible and unfounded, but effective consultation was also critical.
“The proceedings were significant in clarifying the correct interpretation of the legislation, including the importance of worker participation and involvement where new procedures are sought to be implemented,” Smyth said.
“It is important that workers have a say and are involved in these decisions because at the end of the day it is their health and safety we are trying to protect.
“The procedures needed to be looked at critically to ensure they are of substantive benefit to the safety and welfare of workers. For example, assertions that increased detection rates can be attributed to a change in the method or type of testing may not take into account that an increase in the number of tests being done is responsible for the increased detection.
“Companies must engage meaningfully with their workforce to understand why that is happening and what is the best way of dealing with it.
“There is significant anecdotal evidence that an overwhelming proportion of any increased detection at Goonyella Riverside relates to workers employed in insecure work, specifically those employed by contractor and labour hire firms.
“The CFMEU understands that only 2 of 36 cases of recently detected methamphetamines are attributable to permanent employees directly employed by BHP. If the company is serious about dealing with drug and alcohol abuse and related mental health issues, they need to stop the proliferation of insecure work.”