Mining companies on notice as workers backpaid thousands for unpaid pre-start briefings

Published: 18 Jun 2019

Mineworkers at Cameby Downs coal mine in Queensland’s Surat Basin have received up to $17,000 each in backpay after their employer Yancoal required them to participate in pre-start briefings before their paid workday started.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland President Stephen Smyth said mining companies across Queensland were on notice that compulsory briefings count as work and they shouldn’t be conducted on unpaid time.

At Cameby Downs, workers on some crews were being bussed from their accommodation camp each morning arriving at the site at approximately 5.40am. They were then required to participate in a 15-20 minute ‘pre-start’ meeting about issues that have arisen in the previous shift and requirements for the day, before starting work at 6am.

The CFMEU successfully challenged the practice, with the Fair Work Commission agreeing that the pre-start meetings were not included within the shifts and salaries allowed for under the site Enterprise Agreement.

For some crews, the practice had been in place for years, allowing for substantial backpay claims paid out to workers last week and costing the company about a quarter of a million dollars.

Mineworkers who are required to undertake any work-related activities outside of paid shifts are encouraged to check the terms of their agreement or talk to their union representative.

“Well done to our members at Cameby Downs for standing up for their entitlements,” said Mr Smyth.

“It is illegal to require employees to do work outside of the period they’re paid for. We know it happens in the mining industry and mining companies are on notice that we’ll fight to make sure our members are paid properly.”