AWU targets BHP refinery

The Australian Workers Union is attempting to force BHP Billiton back into collective bargaining negotiations for workers at the Worsley aluminium plant in WA.

According to The Australian BHP said it had recorded an “extraordinary number” of union visits at Worsley over the past few years.

The jump in visits follows a strengthening union presence on WA mine sites recently, after years of waning influence.

BHP reports right-of-entry visits by the AWU on Worsley's 'operations area' jumped from zero in 2007-08 to 12 in 2009, 68 in 2010, and 162 in 2011.

The company said the AWU also made a further 1200 visits to the site's 'construction area' over 2010-11 after making zero in 2007.

In a submission to the Federal Government last year BHP said there was “no justification” for such intervention in the workplace.

But AWU national secretary Paul Howes said he was confident that “over time” workers at Worsley would come to be covered by a collective agreement.

The Australian reports BHP said it had a constructive relationship with unions and supported the rights of collective bargaining.