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Mining and Energy Union

Programmed labour hire mineworkers at Mount Pleasant mine are getting pay rises of $25,000 a year, with the mine operator offering them permanent shirts in response to our first Same Job Same Pay application in NSW. These workers will now not only receive the same pay as their directly employed workmates, but also the same conditions and job security.

The MEU withdrew our application to the Fair Work Commission after getting a guarantee the relevant labour hire workers would be employed directly, making these workers the first of many to win pay rises under Same Job Same Pay laws. It is a terrific outcome, and an important first step in restoring wage justice across the mining industry.

For years, the labour hire workers at Mount Pleasant have been getting pay packets over $25,000 a year less than the permanent employees they work next to. This was a clear-cut example of the labour hire loopholes that the Same Job Same Pay laws have been designed to close.

For Danielle, one of the former Programmed workers who will now be directly employed by Thiess, the new rate of pay and conditions will be ‘a game changer:’

“We all do the same work, there’s really no difference between someone who is wearing a Theiss label or a Programmed label in terms of what we do day to day,” she said.  

“For all of us to now be on the same rate of pay and have the same conditions will be a game changer. The security of employment and improved conditions will impact many of my workmates.

“In the past I have seen contractors pick up extra shifts in order to make ends meet, because their rate of pay was less, even when they were buggered from working overtime. We’ve also had instances of people working through their shift even though they were sick.”

For our Union, getting labour hire mineworkers into secure, permanent jobs with strong conditions has always been a primary goal of our push for Same Job Same Pay.

The transfer of workers at Mount Pleasant is proof that removing the economic incentive to outsource permanent jobs will result in more mine operators returning to a direct employment model. We have already seen an increase in mine operators offering permanent jobs since the laws were introduced, and we expect this trend to continue.

The outcome at Mount Pleasant shows that the Same Job Same Pay laws are working as intended, breaking down the two-tiered workforce that has been established by the outsourcing of permanent jobs.

As another of our Programmed members observed, being employed on the same Enterprise Agreement with the same pay and conditions leads to more unity in the workplace and ends the toxic division which has plagued our industry.

We are now proceeding with preparing and submitting our next Same Job Same Pay applications for labour hire workers across the NSW mining industry. We will concentrate on sites where we have membership among the labour hire workforce and support for the application. We encourage everyone in the industry to speak to their workmates about Same Job Same Pay and joining the union.

Meanwhile, in Queensland, labour hire workers at Batchfire’s Callide Mine are eagerly awaiting their Same Job Same Pay application to be determined by the Fair Work Commission. Neither the labour hire company or the mine operator Batchfire have opposed the application, so we are expecting a positive result.

Robin Williams

District President MEU Northern Mining and NSW Energy

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