Industry Update

Adani Jobs must be permanent, local and well paid.

Written by Tony Maher on 13 June 2019

There’s no question that coal was at the centre of May’s federal election. Green activists and the ‘stop Adani’ campaign made sure of that, with their convoy into Queensland backfiring when it turned out that people in coal regions support our second largest export industry and the jobs it provides.  

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BHP cutting wages does not improve productivity

Written by Peter Colley on 21 May 2019

BHP has been at it a few times recently, claiming that cutting wages via using its in-house subsidiaries is somehow a productivity improvement.

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Your vote this federal election

Written by Grahame Kelly on 04 April 2019

The looming federal election is an important one for mining and energy workers. We believe a change of government is by far the best outcome for mining and energy workers. Here are some of the reasons why:

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Written by Tony Maher on 25 March 2019

What would a labour hire boss say if a casual mineworker asked for a permanent job?  A) No  B) Don’t come back tomorrow C) Nothing, too busy laughing.

Yet the ‘right to request’ permanent work is what the Coalition is proposing as a solution to the casualisation crisis in our industries.

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Big producers making big profits from Australian coal

Written by Peter Colley on 19 March 2019

Australia’s top three coal producers, Glencore, BHP and Yancoal, recorded hefty profits last year from coking and thermal coal. These three companies control well over half of Australian black coal production and all have said they are enjoying great cash margins (reflecting profit after operating costs) of about 45%.
The exit of Rio Tinto from the global coal industry has seen it replaced in Australia by Yancoal and an even-bigger Glencore.  Rio clearly thinks the long term prospects for coal are poor, but right now it has said good bye to the healthy profits that the coal majors are making.

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New Rio Tinto mine: more automation, fewer jobs

Written by Peter Colley on 04 December 2018

Last week, global mining giant Rio Tinto announced the development of a new $3.5 billion, 43 million tonnes per annum Koodaideri iron ore mine in the Pilbara – to replace production from depleting mines nearby and position the company for further growth. But the company’s job forecasts for the new mine show it will deliver far fewer jobs than current operations.

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Making smart decisions about structural change

Written by Tony Maher on 30 October 2018

Australia’s coal-fired power stations will all close in the next two or three decades. We know this because the companies that operate the 23 power stations currently operating nation-wide have told us so.

Despite the empty rhetoric of some, it is unlikely that the economic case for investing in new coal-fired power stations in Australia will stack up. Those who currently own and operate coal power stations have no plans to build new ones.

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Casual ruling aimed squarely at big business

Written by Tony Maher on 16 October 2018

The employer community is putting on quite a show about a recent Federal Court decision that a casual labour hire coal miner employed full-time for years was not really a casual under the law and was therefore owed some paid leave.

They claim the WorkPac v Skene decision is a disaster due to the vast extent to which Australian businesses use casuals in regular, on-going work, that will lead to a multi-billion dollar outbreak of worker ‘double-dipping’ on casual loadings and paid leave.

Now it has emerged that WorkPac, the labour hire company at the heart of this case, is lobbying politicians to support legislative change negating the decision because it would be unfair on small to medium businesses.

Um, what?

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Green jobs are not necessarily good jobs

Written by Peter Colley on 17 September 2018

Recent research found that just 5 out of 59 major solar, bioenergy and geothermal companies meet four basic criteria to protect communities and workers in their projects. Almost half appear to have no basic protections in place. Their record on respect for union rights – on freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively – was especially weak.
Further, some of the companies that did have detailed human rights policies also had a track record of more allegations of human rights abuses – showing a  disconnect between policy and practice.

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How soon will our jobs be automated?

Written by Peter Colley on 10 September 2018

By Peter Colley, National Research Director

One of my sayings  about my own profession is that most economists are wrong most of the time. And especially with forecasts. So it was with a forecast of mine back in 2000 that the truck fleets of open cut mines would be mostly automated by 2010.
That forecast was way off, but driverless truck fleets are indeed being implemented across the iron ore industry – just a decade later than I thought! Turns out it has been a great deal more difficult to achieve the needed level of safety, and of reliable operation, than anticipated. Rio Tinto is a leader in the field, but they have now spent a decade automating their train operations in the Pilbara and are just now reaching the point of having driverless trains operating with full loads. It’s taken them several more years and several hundred million more dollars than expected.

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