More pain for contractors at Appin as new campaign targets casualisation in mining

Published: 25 Aug 2020

More workers have been told they’ll be forced on to lower pay and conditions on or lose their jobs at South32’s Appin mine as the Miners Union launches a new campaign to protect rights for casual miners.



Mining companies have steadily outsourced thousands of direct permanent jobs in recent years and Southern District coal miners have felt the impact, with multinationals like South32 only employing  workers  through labour hire companies to drive down wages and conditions.



CFMEU Mining and Energy South Western District Vice President Bob Timbs said another 150 workers employed at the giant Appin underground mine face losing their jobs.



South32 has told contracting firm CH4 drilling to sack 30 specialist gas drainage operators while another established contractor SCM has been told they are no longer required – with their 120 workers left with the assumed options of applying for their jobs on lower pay through WorkPac, or not working at all.



CH4 drilling employs ‘gas drainage operators’ who drain explosive and toxic gases such as methane and carbon dioxide out of the notoriously gassy seam so coal can be removed safely. Consultation with the workforce over which jobs would go began today. SCM provides skilled operators and trades.



The latest bad news follows South32 cutting 250 contractors employed by Nexus and Mastermyne, with many rehired through WorkPac at lower pay rates. These WorkPac employees have since had their terms of employment changed, including bonus rates cut and withdrawal of a quarterly retention bonus.



“It’s like Groundhog Day from hell for workers at Appin after South32 sacked hundreds of contractors in May and June,” said Mr Timbs.



“The root of the problem is the mining companies are not obliged to directly employ people on site agreements or provide the same pay for the same work.

“South32 has shown we can’t rely on mining multinationals to do the right thing. That’s why we need stronger workplace laws.



“We need the Government to back in our important win stopping mining companies employing permanent workers as casuals and we need ‘same job same pay’ laws to stop this unfair and damaging game of chess being played with coal miners livelihoods to drive down their pay.”