BHP workers sacked for using mobiles will be reinstated

Two men sacked by BHP for using their mobile phones at work will be reinstated following a ruling by the Fair Work Commission.

Luke Faulkner and Shannon Boal were both operators at BHP’s Goonyella Riverside mine before being let go in February 2014 for breaching the mine’s Mobile Electronic Device Procedure.

The safety policy bans workers from possessing mobile devices at the mine site.

Faulkner was sacked after it was found he used his phone to post a comment on Facebook.

Just a few days later Boal had his contract terminated after a phone was discovered in the cabin of his truck.

While the commission said the reasons to sack the men were valid, it found faults in the way the mobile procedure had been implemented and judged the termination of employment unfair.

It said the Mobile Electronic Device Procedure was "not clearly written or implemented as zero-tolerance policy".

Commissioner Paul Spencer ordered both men be reinstated at the mine.

“Other employees who have breached the procedure for mobile electronic device usage at the workplace have continued their employment,” Spencer said.

Spencer said workers had not been properly trained about the mobile ban and that both Faulkner and Boal were not given a chance to respond to misconduct allegations.

The CFMEU, which brought the case against BHP on behalf of the workers, said the commission’s findings highlighted the “harsh” nature of the sackings, SMH reported.

"The reinstatement of these men does not undermine the implementation of this policy or any other safety measure," secretary Tim Whyte said.

The Australian Mines and Metals Association slammed the commission’s decision.

"It should be possible for an employer to set clear policies on safety, set out clear consequences for breaching them, and to follow them through. However, we are increasingly seeing instances of these policies being overturned by the Fair Work Commission," AMMA executive director of policy Scott Barklamb said. 

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