Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union v BHP Coal Pty Ltd [2014] HCA 41 (16 October 2014)

In this long running dispute between BHP Coal and the CFMEU over a picket line and actions by participants in the dispute, BHP has “taken it all of the way” to the High Court of Australia…and lost.

The central case being that BHP Coal sacked a worker on the picket line because he waved a sign stating “No principles Scabs No guts”.

The HC found that the sign having been supplied by the Union, and thus was furthering the cause of the campaign the union had against BHP Coal was tantamount to breach of the FWA’s “lawful union activity” provisions.

It should be noted that the Justices utilised the HC’s previous decision in “Board of Bendigo Regional Institute of Technical and Further Education v Barclay [No 1]”.

Commentary: The moral of this story is that if you are nice to your union organiser, they (maybe) nice to you. However, there is an old truism in IR, “you get the union you deserve”.

Greg Reiffel Industrial Relations & Human Resources Consulting has been providing the following services to businesses for over 30 years:


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