Today marks one year since One Nation teamed up with the Morrison Government to pass legislation that has cost casual miners tens of millions of dollars in entitlements.
The Mining and Energy Union (MEU) said today that coal miners should remember 18 March 2021 as a dark day when LNP and One Nation politicians sold them out.
“There are plenty of politicians that love dressing up as coal miners, but actions speak louder than words,” said MEU Queensland District President Steven Smyth.
“The vote by One Nation along with Liberals and National politicians to overturn rights won fair and square by casual coal miners through the courts has cost mineworkers and their families millions of dollars and hope for the future.”
On 18 March 2021, Senators Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts supported the Government’s stripped-back IR Omnibus Bill, which removed court-recognised rights for casual coal miners in long-term, full-time roles to receive leave entitlements.
The legislation overturned the landmark Skene and Rossato Federal Court decisions by legalising the ‘permanent casual’ work model with a retrospective definition of ‘casual’ based on the words in the employment contract not the reality of the work arrangement.
The legislation stopped multiple class actions claiming unpaid entitlements for long-term causal miners in their tracks, including a class action launched by the MEU claiming up to $16 million in unpaid entitlements for around current and former WorkPac employees.
Dysart resident Sean Tetley is a long-term labour hire coal miner in a Central Queensland mine who lost about $90,000 in unpaid entitlements due to the law change.
“I was a full-time casual for eight years with WorkPac and the wins in Federal Court meant I was eligible to claim leave entitlements I had missed out on.
“All those years, I got paid less than permanent employees and also got no holidays or paid leave; ‘permanent casuals’ like me deserved to have that rectified.
“I was gutted when One Nation voted against us and I lost the chance for entitlements.
“Labour hire workers are still exploited through being paid less than permanents and we deserve better workplace laws like ‘same job same pay’.”
Mr Smyth said the vote in parliament on 18 March 2021 trashed years of painstaking work by coal miners to challenge the deeply unfair ‘permanent casual’ labour hire model.
“When casual miners had a fair win confirmed twice by the Federal Court, the Morrison Government and their One Nation backers spat the dummy and changed the law, putting mineworkers back at square one.
“Politicians like Malcolm Roberts, Pauline Hanson and Matt Canavan love dressing up like coal miners in Central Queensland, but when they’re in Canberra they vote to rob them of rights and entitlements.
“We need politicians in Canberra that will stand up for coal miners, not sell them out.”