Miner BHP admits underpaying 30,000 staff

BHP facing a £225 million bill after the world’s largest publicly traded mining company reveals it has underpaid nearly 30,000 workers over 13 years

Apologies: BHP President of Australia Geraldine Slattery

BHP is facing a £225 million bill after the world’s largest publicly traded mining company revealed it underpaid nearly 30,000 workers over 13 years.

The company reported to the Australian workplace regulator and hired an independent firm to review its payroll systems.

Since 2010, BHP had erroneously deducted public holiday leave totaling an average of six days per person for the majority of its current and former employees – comprising 28,500 people.

It’s not clear how the mistake started at the Melbourne-headquartered company, which is a leading producer of iron ore, nickel, copper and potash.

But Australia’s BHP president Geraldine Slattery apologized to the affected workers.

“This is not good enough and does not meet the standards we expect at BHP. We are working to address and resolve these issues as quickly as possible.”

BHP said the £225 million reflected its share of costs, including pension and interest payments. The company will release an update in August.

Australia is known for strong workplace protections.

The Mining and Energy Union said BHP had ‘sprang up to rip off workers’.

“Today’s revelation shows that we need to continue to pressure large companies like BHP to do the right thing,” said general secretary Grahame Kelly.

In January 2022, BHP delisted from London’s FTSE 100 after pressure from investors to simplify its clumsy Anglo-Australian corporate structure. More than 97 percent of shareholders in London voted in favor of the plans, which moved the main stock exchange listing to Sydney and ended a 20-year-old agreement that had seen the group consist of two companies: BHP Ltd, which was listed in Australia, and BHP plc, listed in London.

The idea was to enable it to raise money, provide shareholders with greater returns and make deals easier.

But as noted by Russ Mold, director of investment at AJ Bell, the stock price hasn’t reacted — and is down more than 13 percent year-to-date.

“Whether in some cases this is due to weaker metal and commodity prices, shareholder reluctance on M&A deals, concerns about a global recession or a combination of the three is hard to say,” he said.

BHP has approximately 80,000 employees and contract workers and operates the largest copper mine in the world in Chile.