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CFMEU calls to end casualisation in mining industry

Portrait of serious coal miner with his arms crossed against a dark background

The CFMEU have put pressure on the Government to ensure job security in the Queensland mining industry.

The union pointed out that despite coal production increasing by 50 million tonnes since 2011, the Bowen Basin has shed over 11,000 jobs in the same time across the electorates of Dawson, Capricornia and Flynn.

At the same time, more than 1500 permanent jobs have been made into contract positions – including mines at Blackwater, Saraji, Peak Downs, Goonyella, Hail Creek, Dawson, Callide and German Creek.

These shocking figures have lead the union to launch the Steady Jobs campaign on Friday.

CFMEU Queensland District Senior Vice President Mitch Hughes said the upcoming election was the perfect time to remind Federal MPs just what it was like to live with the uncertainty of insecure employment.

“We need a plan for jobs growth and Federal Government MPs in Central and North Queensland have been silent on the issue – just as the Prime Minister has been silent,” Mr Hughes said.

“Queenslanders deserve good, steady jobs, not the uncertainty of being unemployed or forced into a contract-based role with lower wages, fewer protections and no entitlements like sick leave.

“There is no more important issue for families and communities than providing good, steady jobs, so we are asking Federal MPs and all candidates for Central and North Queensland seats to support our call to end the casualisation of our workforce.

“We need to show local MPs that if they value their own job security, then they should be standing up for the same rights and conditions for their constituents.”

The Steady Jobs campaign will include a substantial advertising spend with mobile billboards and messages to the community published in prominent places around the electorates of Dawson, Flynn and Capricornia.

Mr Hughes said job losses and shifting permanent jobs into contract based roles has had a devastating impact on workers, their families and mining communities as contractors find it more difficult to build a life for themselves and their families.

“Coal mining companies cut costs at the expense of workers by forcing permanent employees onto contracts that pay lower wages, with no sick leave, no annual leave or superannuation, and without basic protections,” he said. 

With mining returning to pre-boom levels, Mr Hughes said that it was time for the contracting con to end as the need for using contract workers to supplement existing workers during peak times comes to a close.

“Mining companies should wind back the use of contractors at this stage of the cycle, but instead they are cutting permanent jobs and increasing the use of short term contracts,” Mr Hughes said.

“The fact that there are higher proportion of contractors in our mines today than during the peak boom period shows that forcing employees onto contracts is about shafting mineworkers and cutting costs, not managing peaks and troughs in production.

“A contract-based and casual workforce might be cheaper for mining companies, but it is a dangerous trend for workers and local communities, which rely on stable and steady jobs to underpin the wellbeing of our regional cities and towns.”

What the Steady Jobs campaign is seeking
•  Labour hire and contract services only be used for legitimate temporary and supplementary work.
•  The use of labour hire and contract labour be limited to a fixed period of service.
•  The Fair Work Act be amended so that contract and labour hire employees are entitled to receive the same pay, conditions, and rights according to the EBA.
•  If companies change their structure (or sell their operations to another company), existing agreements with employees must be honoured, first.
•  At the conclusion of temporary employment, contractors and labour hire employees be given a fair go and have the right to transfer to a permanent position should a vacancy occur.
•  Labour hire and contract providers be excluded from engaging people on temporary work visas.
•  That companies reveal the ratio between permanent and casual staff engaged at their operations.

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