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:
Ending the casual labour hire rip-off
Casual labour hire is out of control in coal mining. Many labour hire mineworkers are casual for years on end – and they’re paid much less than permanents. This is wrong.
The Liberal National Coalition has done nothing to support permanent jobs. Nationals MPs have been caught out telling porkies, saying the government has ‘fixed’ casualisation. Far from it.
Their proposed Fair Work Amendment (Right to Request Casual Conversion) Bill hasn’t even passed through Parliament. And it only allows for casuals to ask for a permanent job. We all know what the boss would say.
Labor has committed to giving casual workers the right to convert to a permanent role after 12 months, if they wish to; and ‘same job same pay’ for labour hire workers, to stop mine operators using labour hire to drive down wages and conditions. These changes would make a real difference to improving pay and permanency for labour hire workers.
Better wages and fairer workplace bargaining
Our members at Port Kembla Coal Terminal have been locked out for 50 days straight and had their Enterprise Agreement terminated while trying to negotiate a new deal. This kind of aggressive action from employers during bargaining is unfair.
Under the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government, it has become much harder for workers to bargain fairly with employers.
Labor has committed to making bargaining fairer in a number of ways, like stopping employers getting a small handful of workers to vote up an agreement that covers a whole workforce; introducing multi-employer bargaining where a fair agreement can’t be reached at the enterprise level; and preventing employers from terminating an agreement during bargaining to put unfair pressure on workers.
Making bargaining fairer is a way to improve conditions and increase wages, which have stagnated under the Coalition.
Energy policy to protect working people
Some members raise concerns with us about Labor’s energy policy. Bill Shorten has said that coal will be an important part of Australia’s energy mix going forward and that coal exports will continue for many decades.
Decisions to close coal-fired power stations are made by the owners of those power stations, and only Labor has a policy to look after affected workers by investing in new jobs and pooled redundancy schemes.
Some National MPs are pretending to be the friend of coal miners by campaigning for a coal-fired power station in Queensland – so far all that’s done is split the government. The compromise of a ‘feasibility study’ is a con. We would welcome any serious proposal for a new coal-fired power station. But empty rhetoric is not enough.