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MEU Coalface

The MEU has made an application for Same Job Same Pay orders for WorkPac labour hire production workers at Callide coal mine near Biloela. It was the first application under new federal laws and paves the way for many more.

The new laws allow for applications to be made to the Fair Work Commission for Same Job Same Pay when labour hire workers are performing the same work as permanent employees on an Enterprise Agreement. The intention is to prevent employers such as mine operators from undercutting pay rates agreed between workers and employers through bargaining.

Our application at Callide was followed shortly after by an application in NSW for Programmed labour hire workers at Mount Pleasant Mine near Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley. These two locations were selected as appropriate first cases with a high chance of success due to their typical labour hire arrangements.

At Batchfire’s Callide mine, about 560 mineworkers are employed as production operators. About 40% are employed directly and 60% are labour hire employed through Workpac. The pay differential varies depending on employees’ classifications, ranging from approximately $10,000 to $20,000 a year. If approved, the order would lift the pay of Workpac production employees to match Batchfire production employees under the Callide Mine Union Enterprise Agreement.

Callide has high union membership among Workpac labour hire mineworkers and the strong support of their permanent workmates for a fair go at the site.

These Callide and Mount Pleasant applications will now be heard by the Fair Work Commission, who will determine whether to issue Same Job Same Pay orders, triggering a requirement to pay a ‘protected rate of pay’ in line with rates in the host employer’s Enterprise Agreement.

Pay rises flowing from these or any future orders will come into effect on 1 November this year.

As the first applications under new laws, these applications will be watched closely. It is our hope that they will be dealt with promptly by the Commission and our intention to follow them with a steady stream of applications in recognition of the widespread use of labour hire across the coal industry in Queensland and nationally. 

We understand that many workers across the industry are interested in the timing of applications and when and if an application will be made at their workplace. The order of applications for Same Job Same Pay will be determined in consultation with our highly experienced legal team based on the circumstances at the site fitting requirements of the legislation, density of union membership among the labour hire workforce and member support for the application from labour hire and permanent members. After all, MEU members have funded our long campaign for Same Job Same Pay laws for labour hire workers over many years.

Our message to all labour hire and contractor mineworkers across the industry is to get on board, join the Union, help us make strong Same Job Same Pay applications and return fairness to the industry.

Our Union welcomes and supports all workers in the coal industry, whether permanent, labour hire or contractor. Apart from getting to the front of the queue for Same Job Same Pay applications, Union membership gives all members access to our expert workplace support and advice.

If you’re already a MEU member, talk to your labour hire workmates about joining the Union to strengthen the case for a Same Job Same Pay application at your worksite.

Keep up to date with Same Job Same Pay developments by following the Union’s social media channels and checking our website. 

We have fought long and hard for new laws to address the labour hire rort. Now we are determined to ensure they work as intended to deliver pay rises for labour hire workers and end the unfair business model that has allowed mining companies to sidestep site Enterprise Agreements and drive down wages.

Mitch Hughes

President Mining and Energy Union Queensland District

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