Author – Karla Ann
For a company that boldly claims to uphold human rights, BHP Western Australian Iron Ore (BHP), has a lot to answer for with reports now emerging of their borderline cruelty and coercion to force employees to undergo an unnecessary and invasive medical procedure.
One man, who has been threatened with the loss of his job and incarceration, fears for his safety and the wellbeing of his colleagues.
For another, the physical injuries caused by this forced procedure resulted in him needing CT scans to ascertain the extent of damage caused.
While COVID-19 PCR tests and questions around their effectiveness, safety, and need (particularly in healthy people) continue to cause controversy, the fact remains that a medical procedure – any medical procedure – requires consent. To be coerced, bullied, or threatened with the loss of your livelihood or jail time to give consent to a procedure is unethical at best; and BHP seems to be using every trick in the book to get their people to comply.
As part of the drug and alcohol testing conducted at their Newman site, BHP are slipping in PCR tests for COVID-19; making employees feel as though they don’t have a choice and they must consent. One employees’ experience was that he felt like his head was being slammed into the wall causing intense pain, and he was experiencing such discomfort afterward that he had to get CT scans to determine if he had any serious and long-term damage. He has now been diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia – a chronic and extremely painful condition that can cause excruciating pain just from a touch to the face, or when performing simple everyday tasks like brushing teeth. There is potential for it to escalate into depression, difficulty sleeping or eating. This man is now terrified of returning to his job for fear he’ll be forced into another test and is struggling to come to terms with the fact he may have to live with this condition for the rest of his life.
A loyal employee of 12 years was bullied to a point of tears by both his employer and the local police to undertake a PCR test for COVID-19 while locked down against his will. This man, who wishes to remain anonymous, was repeatedly harassed, and his mental health status ignored, over a period of 4 months – starting with forcing him into an initial PCR test for COVID-19 under duress, under the threat of incarceration, and ending with him being evicted from the town where he worked for exercising his right to refuse a second PCR test.
This man has now been placed on ‘unpaid absence’ and faces disciplinary action since his refusal – refused not only because he has every right to do so, but also for fear of his own health and safety given the test has been proven to be unfit for purpose, unreliable and in many situations contaminated. Physically healthy and fit for work, but with a known history of depression – which seems to have been overlooked given his treatment by his superiors – his mental state has been pushed to the limits with snap isolations, threats and constant pressure to undergo a test.
On their first attempt, in early January, following advice he was not going to consent, one superior turned up on his doorstep with a Nurse to demand in person he undergoes a test. After refusing and providing his lawful reasons, he was then reported to the local police who continued the harassment and threatened him with arrest, incarceration, and exorbitant fines until he submitted. In the time leading up to his final submission, this man was subjected to such stress and fear that he was unable to sleep or eat properly and his mental health condition, which he had recovered from 15 years ago, was again at the fore. With a foggy mind and under extreme duress, the man finally relented.
Following the procedure, he felt physically violated and deeply distressed – going against his beliefs and control of his own body to do something he was pressured into against his will.
Having endured such anguish during this time he promised himself he would “never put himself in that situation again”; and thus, when advised quite casually (and therefore incomplete disregard of his prior concerns and situation) a few months later that he was requested to undergo another test, a test that no other person entering the area (except for BHP employees) was required to have, he was compelled to stand his ground. This time, despite being available and fit for work, his refusal resulted in him being evicted from town and sent home. Considering the strength of their reaction, you would assume his employer considered him at risk of infection, or to be dangerous in some way to the other employees – yet they sent him home on a charter flight in close quarters with many others…quite counterintuitive given the severity of their punishment thus far
So, despite being thrown once again into distress, this man repeatedly requested written notice from his employer as to their legal grounds for making him have a test, requested official written notice of his contractual obligations to comply with such measures, and outlined his lawful reasons for declining; the key premises of which have largely been left unanswered, dismissed or determined to be a ‘reasonable’ company requirement with the backing of senior managerial levels and in line with government requirements.
With the latter in mind, BHP are not entirely at fault. With the WA Government’s State of Emergency powers, under Public Health Act 2016, it seems they can dismiss consent and use force on people to comply with their public safety rules; as well as demand testing for people as and when they choose (currently on day 11 of being in the State). However, even under those rules, the Act reads that the orders and directions must be given by an authorised emergency officer appointed as such in writing by the Chief Health Officer, and with the relevant experience (generally a public health official). Are BHP considered emergency or authorised officers? Or are they going rogue in the name of the government directions? There seems to be no specific WA State Government directive mandating testing in order for an employee to start work at their designated location; and even if there was, wouldn’t the overarching Federal law take precedence?
Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 (a federal law, which under S109. of The Constitution supersedes any state law that is in conflict with it), a person must be provided with a Human Biosecurity Control Order (Order) before being required to undergo an examination such as a PCR test. This Order can also only be provided by a registered Biosecurity Officer, and only if they are satisfied that the individual being presented with the Order has symptoms of a listed human disease or has been exposed to a listed human disease either directly or via another individual who has symptoms of the listed human disease.
Furthermore, even when being given an Order, “an individual who refuses to consent…is not required to comply unless a direction has been given by the Director of Human Biosecurity requiring the individual to do so”; and under S95, “Force must not be used against an individual to require the individual to comply…”.
There are also protections under the Fair Work Act (2009) for how a person is to be treated in the workplace and how an employer is expected to behave and take on employee’s concerns if they feel they’ve been mistreated.
Was there reason to suspect this employee had been exposed to COVID-19, a listed human disease? No.
Had he been in a ‘hot spot’ area or in contact with another individual who was considered positive for COVID-19?
Was he showing any signs or symptoms of COVID-19?
Was he provided with a Human Biosecurity Order?
When taking his informed right to refuse consent, was he then given a direction by the Director of Human Biosecurity to undertake the test?
Was he at least given a direction by an authorised emergency officer, one who could prove their position in writing?
Was he forced by way of intimidation, scare tactics, coercion and threats to comply?
We are appalled when someone is bullied. We can’t believe when someone is harassed or assaulted. We are completely shocked when someone is forced, against their will, to have something done to their body they don’t consent to. We demand accountability and justice; and there are laws to protect victims of these inexcusable, unlawful acts. Yet these things seem to be going unnoticed and unpunished when they’re in name of ‘public safety’… and for what? A treatable illness with a 99.98% recovery and survival rate? An illness that has affected a mere 0.12% of the Australian population.
Even the Australian Human Rights Commission are concerned about the “lack of transparency in explaining the continued justification for some emergency measures…” , and that “Australians have been, and continue to be, exposed to potentially unnecessary restrictions of their rights and freedoms…” , so there is little doubt people’s rights are being impinged disproportionally to the threat.
Now, let’s consider that these powers are legitimate, which is what we are being led to believe – that companies like BHP and even the Government have the power and support to enforce such things – does that make it right? To coerce, to threaten, to force people (healthy people no less, with no sign or symptom or risk of any illness) into doing something against their will – to have an invasive procedure performed on their body – is that OK?
We have to question what’s going on here and how this is being allowed. Who elected BHP and its management to create laws of their own? They are just a corporation. Are BHP, the big Australian, exempt from all sorts of prosecution? If they are not, perhaps now would be the time to investigate the possibility?
It’s your body. It’s your choice.
Wanna make some noise about this??? I hope so because we need you to. It’s very important we use our voices (keyboards) to apply pressure when need be.
All our communication should be polite and respectful. We don’t need to be rude…we have THE TRUTH and GOD on our side!
Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/BHP
Phone numbers – https://www.bhp.com/contact-us/