New campaign pushes MPs to protect rights for casual miners

Published: 21 Aug 2020

The Miners Union today launches a nationwide campaign urging MPs in mining communities to support the rights of long-term casual mineworkers against an employer push to legalise ‘permanent casual’ employment.

TV ads featuring a naked coal miner will explain that rights won for casuals are now under threat in Canberra, leaving them exposed. Ads will be targeted at mining regions on TV and social media.    

The Federal Court has twice ruled that casual coal miners working regular, full-time hours on advance rosters are not casuals by law and should therefore be able to claim permanent benefits like paid leave.

Since then employer groups have sought to whip up fear about the decision and convince the Morrison Government overturn its effect through legislation. 

CFMEU Mining and Energy’s Protect Casual Miners campaign will include a nationwide television and online advertising campaign alongside tools to make it easy for workers to tell their local MPs how important it is to stamp out casual exploitation in mining. 

CFMEU National President Tony Maher said it was vital to ensure the interests of miners were represented in the debate. 

"We know multinational companies are very good at making noise in Canberra. This campaign is about ensuring the voice of Australian mineworkers is heard just as loud and just as clear," Mr Maher said. 

"For a decade now, mining companies have been steadily eroding quality, permanent mining jobs and replacing them with casual labour hire jobs on less pay and with no benefits. 

“Our union's win in the Federal Court is finally a common sense outcome for workers in the face of multinational mining companies’ greed. 

"If you work full-time on an Australian mine you should get the conditions you're legally entitled to as an Australian worker, like sick leave and holidays. It's that simple. 

"The umpire has ruled - twice now, in fact. We can't let big business change the rules just because they don't like the decision. Mining communities are depending on their political representatives to defend their interests.

"The world is an uncertain place in 2020. Mining will play a critical role in Australia’s economic recovery and the workers keeping the industry strong deserve job security and their legal entitlements.” 

A recent report by the McKell Institute found that around a billion dollars had been stripped from coal mining regional economies each year as a result of the widespread replacement of permanent mining jobs with outsourced casual labour hire on lower pay.

“Anyone with any exposure to the mining industry knows the toxic effect of casualisation on mineworkers, their families and communities. It’s unsafe, with casual mineworkers fearful of speaking up," Mr Maher said. 

"Our Federal Court win clarifies that in the context of mining – where casuals typically work full-time hours on rosters a year in advance – it’s also illegal. Mining community MPs should be cheering this court decision and giving their commitment that they’ll protect casual miners’ rights in Canberra."

Background about casualisation in mining and the Skene and Rossato Federal Court decisions can be found here.