A multinational mining company’s decision to reevaluate its employment model is unlikely to deliver more permanent positions, an industry body said.
Anglo American recently launched a labour hire review at the Grosvenor Coal Mine near Moranbah, 198km southwest of Mackay. The employer promised to improve safety practices after an underground blast hospitalised five workers with severe burns, kidney failure and lung blood-clots back on 6 May 2020.
However, internal correspondence to Anglo staff suggested there would be no major changes to the existing labour hire agreement with One Key Resources. The proponent reportedly engaged a consulting firm to finish the review sometime in late July, at which point only “some” permanent Anglo jobs will be offered according to the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).
“They have now basically told workers that they will be competing for the permanent shirts in a ‘Hunger Games’ scenario,” CFMEU Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said in a public statement.
“These workers are already traumatised by what they have been through [and] they have worked incredibly hard to get the mine back up and running. To be treated in this way is appalling.”
Smyth believes directly employing everyone at the mine site would significantly improve workplace morale, after a traumatic two years.
“Blind Freddy can see that Anglo needs to employ its workforce directly,” he said.
“These are difficult mines with on-going gas issues and having an empowered, secure workforce is the safest way to operate them. They do not need a consulting firm to tell them that.”
The union also dismissed Minerals Council of Australia’s recent remarks about a rising number of permanent mining jobs as “misleading”. This is because the Australian Bureau of Statistics excludes “around half” of the workforce employed through labour hire companies, which are categorised as “administrative and support services” instead of resources.
“The Minerals Council would be better off urging its members to fix the insecure work crisis in the industry rather than peddling misleading, hand-picked data,” CFMEU mining and energy general president Tony Maher said in a public statement.
Maher revealed the Queensland Coal Mining Board of Inquiry (11.27-11.29) found direct permanent employment rates actually fell from 94 per cent in 1996 to less than half in 2017 across the Sunshine State. Coal long service leave data also shows casual hours increased between 2011 and 2019, and hourly rates were substantially lower for casuals than permanent mineworkers.
“The best data is the experience of our members [and] our members tell us that permanent workers are a shrinking minority on many crews, there just aren’t any permanent roles offered any more … [and] mining companies use outsourcing strategies to drive down wages, reduce job security and prevent workers from organising to improve their position.”
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