Over $750 million year stripped from Queensland coal mining communities by wage-cutting: new analysis

Mining and Energy Union

Analysis of Queensland coal mining electorates has found that a staggering three quarters of a billion dollars a year is lost from local economic activity due to aggressive wage cutting-strategies by mining companies. A new McKell Institute report analysed the impact on local economic activity of mining companies’ widespread replacement of permanent mining jobs with lower-paid labour hire workers. It found that regions with the highest proportion of coal mineworkers were missing out on hundreds of millions a year: – The federal electorate of Flynn lost up to $357.6 million – The federal electorates of Capricornia and Dawson lost up to $395.9 million The report contains a detailed analysis of how the labour hire employment model has systemically been used to reduce wages that would otherwise have circulated through local mining regions. “Outsourcing jobs to labour hire companies is a way for mining companies to get around Enterprise Agreements that have been negotiated by workers over decades,” said Mining and Energy Union Queensland President Stephen Smyth. “By using this wage-cutting strategy, some of our wealthiest corporations have been able to strip up to 40 per cent from the wages of Queensland coal miners and remove conditions like redundancy entitlements.

“In our coal mining regions covering centres like Mackay and Rockhampton as well as mining hubs like Moranbah, Dysart, Emerald and Blackwater, well-paid mining jobs have traditionally formed the backbone of local economic activity.

“Secure jobs have been an important part of the social compact between mining companies and host communities. But this report shows how mining companies have washed their hands of this responsibility and communities are being ripped off.”

Labour hire coal miner and Rockhampton resident Brodie Allen has worked in the coal mining industry for five years and has been employed through labour for the whole period.

“At my current site, the permanent workers earn about $40,000 to $50,000 a year more and they also have a range of conditions like not having to work on Easter or Christmas,” said Mr Allen.

“The permanent workers get protections around hours of work, work location and rosters, which we don’t. From my current position, there’s no pathway to a permanent job.

“Coal prices are booming at the moment but I don’t see any benefit flowing to me through better wages or conditions, it’s really frustrating. My employer always just says that they can’t improve conditions as they will lose their ability to compete for contracts.”

Mr Smyth said the Mining and Energy Union would continue to campaign for ‘Same Job Same Pay’ laws in the upcoming federal election, so labour hire can be used to address genuine temporary or specialist labour needs but not to undercut wages and conditions in existing Enterprise Agreements.

Read the report

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