Today’s decision in a High Court Appeal backed by the Federal Government has dashed the hopes of casual coal miners seeking justice, the Miners Union said today.
The WorkPac v Rossato appeal judgment winds back important wins for casuals established in the Skene and Rossato Federal Court decisions, including a commonsense definition of casual based on the reality of the work arrangements and a pathway to compensation for exploited casuals.
Mining and Energy Union General President Tony Maher said the decision was deeply disappointing for coal miners who were desperate for change in their industry.
However, the impact of today’s decision was overshadowed by legislation passed by the Morrison Government in March in the stripped back IR Omnibus Bill, which had already embedded an unfair definition of casual in the Fair Work Act and blocked pathways to compensation.
“We have fought long and hard through the courts to expose the ‘permanent casual’ rort in the mining industry and I know our members are proud of what we have achieved, said Mr Maher.
“The Federal Court has twice upheld the commonsense principle that you can’t be a so-called ‘permanent casual’.
“However, the Morrison Government has been determined to do the bidding of big mining and labour hire companies and overturn sensible limits on casualisation through the IR Omnibus Bill and by supporting this appeal in the High Court.
“Thousands of casual coal miners have lost an avenue to claim entitlements and the hope of an end to the ‘permanent casual’ rort. The Morrison Government with the enthusiastic support of the Nationals and One Nation has made sure of this.
“We encourage all coal miners to look carefully at any work contract they sign. Today’s decision makes clear that the words in the contract matter more than the reality of your working conditions.
“Also look carefully at what your political representatives are offering. The real solution to the misuse of casual employment is a proper definition in the Fair Work Act based on the reality of the job – not just words in a contract – and a commitment to same job, same pay for labour hire workers.
“This result can only be brought about by a change in the Federal Government and we are going to campaign hard to make this a reality.”