A growing number of casual mining staff have joined a major legal action to recover entitlements allegedly owed from the past six years.
About 600 members of the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) are jointly suing WorkPac Recruitment for at least $12 million in unpaid earnings because the labour hire firm allegedly misclassified them as casual employees.
Same roster as permanent staff
Ben Renyard claims he worked for nearly three years through WorkPac and performed the same work, on the same roster and under the same supervisors as his permanent coworkers at Yancoal’s Mount Thorley Warkworth Mine, 81km northwest of Newcastle.
“At Mount Thorley Warkworth, I worked on a crew alongside permanent workers on the same annual roster with the same supervisor but I got less pay and no entitlements like annual leave or sick leave,” Renyard said in a public statement. “As a casual you are treated like a second-class citizen.”
Renyard was employed on a casual basis with a flat hourly rate and no sick or annual leave. He only stayed on because he was hoping it would lead to permanent work.
“I hoped it would be a stepping stone to a permanent job,” he said. “The reality of coal mining these days is that the only jobs available are casual labour hire.”
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National law firm Slater & Gordon is accepting registrations on interest from workers who were either employed or placed in the coal sector through WorkPac for at least three months between 21 August 2013 and 20 August 2019.
Applicants must have been designated as a casual employee by WorkPac, paid a flat hourly rate, worked in accordance with a long-term roster determined by the mine operator, and held union membership at the time of their last assignment or, alternatively, as of 20 August 2019.
No cost involved even if successful
CFMMEU promises there is no cost involved with registering and all proceeds from the class action will go directly back to the affected workers without any legal or administrative fees deducted.
“Unlike class action law suits funded by profit-driven litigation funders, every single cent recovered by the CFMEU’s class action will go directly back to the affected workers,” CFMEU national president Tony Maher said. “Any affected WorkPac employee who is not a union member should contact the union to see how they can get involved.”