Own BHP (ASX:BHP) shares? Here’s how the ASX 200 miner is battling COVID

Mining unions have not generally supported mandatory vaccinations.

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Key points

  • BHP shares took a big hit in the early weeks of the pandemic
  • The company has a strict vaccination mandate
  • Hundreds of workers could be laid off for refusing the jab

BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) shares were not immune from the panic selling that ensued in the early months of the pandemic.

Like most S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) companies, the iron ore giant saw its share price crash. In a matter of weeks, from late February into early March 2020, BHP shares plunged more than 30%.

Since those lows, the BHP share price has come roaring back, up 81% from 13 March 2020.

But the big miner is taking COVID seriously.

As it seeks to ensure the safety of its workforce, and make sure they’re able to deploy to its far-flung sites, BHP has mandated all of its staff be vaccinated.

Hundreds of employees could be ousted

While BHP expects 97%–98% of its Aussie workforce will be jabbed, that could leave as many as 700 unvaccinated employees heading for the door, either by resigning or being sacked.

As The Australian reported, “About 250 employees in the company’s Queensland operations have been put on notice they face termination after not providing proof of their COVID vaccination.”

As of 31 January, BHP now requires anyone entering its workplaces to provide proof of vaccination. That not only impacts BHP’s 23,800 odd workers, but also a host of contractors who will need to prove they’ve been vaccinated to work on BHP sites.

Commenting on the development, a BHP spokesman said (quoted by The Australian):

This is a necessary health and safety measure to help protect our people, their families and communities – including remote Indigenous communities – while continuing to safely run our – operations. We will continue to work with our people as we implement this change.

The mining union, which lost a legal challenge to BHP’s vaccine mandate, called the situation “very intense”.

According to CFMEU Queensland mining division president Stephen Smyth, “It’s quite complex and very, very intense the way they went about it when they started issuing the letters one or two days after January 31. We’ve also got contractors and labour-hire companies terminating people as well.”

How have BHP shares been performing?

BHP shares have benefited from a resurgent iron ore price in recent months.

That’s helped drive the BHP share price to a 14% year-to-date gain, compared to a loss of 3% posted by the ASX 200.

The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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