Government inquiry calls for halt to casualisation in mining

A federal parliamentary committee has called for government action to stem rampant casualisation of full-time mining jobs in order to improve the industry’s social and economic return to the regional communities that support it.

The ‘Keep it in the regions’ report released this week by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Industry, Innovation, Science and Resources recommends legislative change to prevent the widespread use of casualised workers in roles that are permanent in nature.

Recommendation 19: The Committee recommends the Federal Government conduct a review into the use of casualised workforces and labour hire companies in the mining and other sectors with a view to amending the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) in order to prohibit the move towards replacing directly-employed, full time workers with ‘permanent casual’ employees, and othersimilar casualised employee types. Changes to the Act should also include provisions that guarantee that employees have a legal right to convert from casual to permanent employment after a set period of time.

The Committee expressed concern at the increased use of casualised labour, noting that casualworkers often face financial difficulties and that the widespread ‘permanent casual’ model was creating a ‘second class’ of mining employee.

The Committee’s concerns and recommendation regarding casualisation is at odds withIndustrial Relations Minister Kelly O’Dwyer’s intervention in a current federal court case brought by labour hire company WorkPac, said CFMEU National President Tony Maher.

“The recent WorkPac v Skene Federal Court decision exposed the rort of the ‘permanent casual’ model in mining,” said Mr Maher.

“It found that coal miner Paul Skene was employed as a casual, but the reality of his full-time, regular work arrangements and 12-month advance roster was that he was really a permanent. This is a very common arrangement in the mining industry.

“Instead of looking at the evidence, Minister O’Dwyer has jumped on the employers’ bandwagonto undermine this decision and protect the rights of giant multinational mining companies to exploit Australian workers in sham casual arrangements.

“I congratulate the committee for seeking and engaging with the views of the community in relation to casualisation and a range of other areas where mining companies are trashing theirsocial license to operate, like ripping off small businesses with unfair terms of trade.”

The report notes information submitted by the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) about the rapid growth of casual labour hire in the industry, with nearly half of workers in NSW open cut mines currently supplied by labour hire and a recent analysis of job ads showing that 82 per cent of mining industry job advertisements on were placed by labour hire contracting companies. Casual labour hire mineworkers are paid on average 30 percent less than permanent workers directly employed by mine operators, even taking into account casual loading.

/Public Release.