OPINION: Get the truth about Same Job Same Pay

Share the Story:

I hope readers have seen our ‘Close the labour hire loopholes’ ad campaign over the past few weeks on TV, social media, billboards, or even here in @ The Coalface magazine.

We can’t compete with the millions being spent by the Minerals Council on their confusing ad campaign, which is trying to muddy the waters about the Federal Government’s proposed Same Job Same Pay policy.

We have so many questions. Minerals Council members employ thousands of labour hire workers in their mines, so why are their ads set in a nursery? And if they think labour hire workers are lazy as portrayed in their ads, why do they employ so many to operate their mines?

The mining companies are in a lather about Labor’s commitment to legislate Same Job Same Pay because for the last decade, their business model has been based on cutting permanent jobs and replacing them with labour hire workers doing the same jobs, for less pay.

This is a legal loophole that allows mining companies to get around the agreed pay rates set out in Enterprise Agreements. It’s a rort.

Same Job Same Pay has nothing to do with employers’ ability to pay performance incentives or pay experienced workers more. It is unlikely to affect anyone working in a nursery, unless the nursery owners are using labour hire workers to undercut their direct employees. The policy is purely focused on ensuring that labour hire workers aren’t misused by employers to undercut site rates set out in enterprise agreements.

I was delighted to be joined by Queensland Senator Nita Green and central Queensland labour hire worker Brodie Allen at the recent launch of our campaign in Rockhampton.

Brodie explained what it was like being a labour hire worker for five years, earning $40,000 a year less than his directly employed workmates doing the same job.

When he applied for a permanent job he was knocked back, even though he already performs the job he was applying for, just with a nominally different employer and for less pay. Brodie’s experience is echoed across the Queensland coalfields.

Over half of Queensland coal miners are employed through labour hire companies like WorkPac, One Key, PIMS, Undermine, ABM, Techserve, Black rock, Wilsons, CH4 and BHP Operations Services. Although we haven’t seen the legislation yet, we are hopeful that Same Job Same Pay will mean that wages rise for many of these workers.

Nita explained that the Same Job Same Pay laws for labour hire workers are being developed as part of a package of workplace reform aimed at closing loopholes, including developing a fair definition of ‘casual’ work to ensure that casuals in long-term, on-going roles can access entitlements; and improving rights for gig economy workers.

Along with Same Job Same Pay, legislating a definition of casual work that reflects its intended nature as non-regular and on-going employment is another important step towards closing the loopholes that allow labour hire workers to be exploited in the mining industry.

This change would restore the legal principle established by our Union’s landmark cases against WorkPac, which determined that ‘permanent casuals’ employed in the coal mining industry on regular full-time hours with rosters set up to a year in advance were not genuine casuals.

This important principle – and hopes of compensation for many coal miners employed incorrectly as casuals – was overturned by the Morrison Government.

Same Job Same Pay laws are currently being consulted on and drafted by the Albanese Government. It is anticipated that legislation will be brought the House of Representatives in Spring before moving to the Senate for an Inquiry.

As the laws are developed, the Mining and Energy Union is making sure that workers voices are heard every step of the way.

Stephen Smyth

Mining and Energy Union Queensland District President

To stay up to date with what is happening with Same Job Same Pay – and get the truth behind the mining company scare campaigns – sign up to follow our campaign at SameJobSamePay.com.au

Share the Story: