Workers are reportedly wearing safety stickers on their work gear today to promote safety in the workplace, despite being banned by employers.
The campaign to promote safety comes after the tragic death of three miners in Queensland this year “and safety standards dropping in the industry,” CFMEU district president Steve Smyth said.
However, the CFMEU claims this safety awareness campaign is being stymied by the major miners, with BMA stating that “posters and stickers should not be placed on BMA property”: property that includes works hard hats.
“We’re very disappointed that bosses at BMA, Vale, Anglo American, Rio Tinto, Glencore, Stanwell, and CS Energy have refused to support the campaign and have banned workers from wearing stickers promoting safety in the workplace,” Smyth said.
“Some workers have been threatened with disciplinary action over stickers on their hard hats, which have messages in support of worker safety, such as “I will stand up, speak out, come home”.”
BMA manager for employee relations, Shaun McKenzie, responded with an official release to the CFMEU campaign, stating “BMA is dedicated to ensuring the health and safety of coal mine workers and is supportive of all appropriate measures that persons and organisation within the Queensland coal industry take to promote safety awareness”.
“While we acknowledge the campaign that the CFMEU is undertaking to raise safety awareness we wish to make it clear that any campaign needs to be conducted in an appropriate manner.
“In respect to BMA mines, this means that posters and stickers should not be placed on BMA property other than noticeboards provided for the use of employees.”
A BHP spokesperson added: "The health and safety of all BMA employees is critically important and we are supportive of real action to promote safety awareness."
"We have regular ongoing dialogue in relation to improving safety standards across our business with a variety of key stakeholders, including members of the CFMEU, and are committed to continuing this.
"Our focus is firmly on taking real action to improve safety and we would welcome any support the CFMEU can provide for changes that will make a real difference," the spokesperson told Australian Mining.
Smyth responded to BMA’s release, calling it laughable, adding that the noticeboards provided for the use of employees had actually been removed.
“This is a very serious issue but it’s laughable that their suggestion is to place safety information on noticeboards which don’t exist.”
He went on to state that stickers do not breach workplace codes of safety and are not safety hazards themselves.
“The reason given by one employer for opposing the safety stickers was that that they were graffiti,” the CFMEU stated.
“The Stand Up Speak Out Come Home campaign is run to encourage miners to make safety their top priority,” Smyth said.
“Workers who are harassed and disciplined over petty matters like stickers on their hardhats will be less confident to report serious issues affecting safety, including corners being cut.
“Employees that put safety first should be rewarded, not threatened with being sent home.”
This is not the first time miners and unions have butted heads over stickers.
In 2012 workers at BMA's Blackwater mine claimed they had been threatened with sacking if they didn't remove union stickers from their cars, during a period of nearly two years of rolling strikes.
Rio Tinto, Anglo American, BHP, and Glencore have been contacted for further comment on the hard hat stickers.
In other hard hat sticker news, a miner's helmet, which bears stickers from the great UK coal strikes of the 1980s, has gone missing.