BHP wants strikes to be ‘last resource’ for workers

BHP wants strikes to be ‘last resource’ for workersBHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) is hoping legal industrial actions to be a last resort to workers and that laws ensure enough support for an employee to choose whether or not to join a union, the mining giant has told the Productivity Commission.

BHP, which directly employs over 23,000 people and about 34,000 contractors across its 35 Australian operations, has also asked for local laws to be flexible enough to keep pace with other countries.

"Businesses must have access to employment arrangements that enable them to adapt to the external environment in which they compete, making jobs more secure," BHP said in today’s submission.

The company’s rationale behind the petition is that a firm suffers unnecessary economic harm every time unions threaten to strike but then withdraw notices at the last minute.

BHP believes the Fair Work Act should be improved so that it limits legal action to strikes by employees or a lockout by an employer, while highly paid workers should also have reduced rights to strike.

Unions that recurrently gave notice of industrial action before withdrawing the threat should lose the right to do so for a specified period, say, 90 days, BHP suggested.