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Labour hire worker exploitation revealed in court

The exploitation of working people in the Bowen Basin and Queensland’s labour hire industry will be the focus of a Parliamentary hearing in Mackay today.

The hearings of the Finance and Administrative Committee come after the CFMEU launched a new Steady Jobs campaign to fight back against the trend of casualisation and forced contracting, replacing permanent work.

The campaign is targeted in Central and North Queensland where more than 11,000 mining jobs have been lost, and another 1500 permanent miners have been pushed into casual contract-based roles in the past three years.

Growth in the contracting industry has been alarming, with mining having the highest percentage of labour hire employees at 10.3 per cent – nearly double the size of the next industry.

CFMEU Queensland District Senior Vice President Mitch Hughes said coal mine workers were hit hard by exploitative agreements but all workers in all industries were affected.

“Queenslanders deserve good, steady, local jobs, not the uncertainty of being unemployed or forced into casual contract-based roles with less pay and no entitlements like sick leave,” Mr Hughes said.

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

Mr Hughes said job losses and shifting permanent jobs into casual contract-based roles has had a devastating impact on workers, their families and mining communities

“Casual contractors find it more difficult to build a life for themselves and their families, struggling to get finance for a house or car due to the insecure nature of their employment,” he said.

“It is a dangerous trend for workers and local communities, which rely on good, steady jobs to underpin the well-being of regional towns like Mackay, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Blackwater, Moranbah and Emerald among others.

“Local Federal MPs have allowed this exploitation by labour hire and mining companies by remaining silent on the issue and refusing to adopt stronger laws and regulations.

“They need to realise that if they value their own job security then they need to stand up for ours.”

The CFMEU is calling for greater transparency in the labour hire industry, the creation of a government compliance unit, increased licensing for labour hire companies, a requirement for employees to be paid the market wage rate, and maximum time periods for labour hire agreements.

The CFMEU submission to Queensland Labour Hire Inquiry can be found here.

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  • Dear Sir Madam,
    I am a concerned employee and like a lot of other employees in the Mining Industry ,I don’t feel that I am been fairly treated as regards to employment with labor hire firms in the mining industry with the payments and agreement made by these labor hire firms with some changers in agreements and no consultation as to the out comes , with changes to pays without any notification of changes to pay rates seem to change when I it is convenient to the labor hire firms .also with movements of some employees are been restricted by some of the labor hire firms with controlling over tones making it hard for employees to move to new sites for personal reasons or closer to home these restrictions are unfair and constitutionally unfair with no advantage for the employees also there is some debate concerning double time payments with the way they interpret the tax law with some paying one way and others paying another way within the tax frame wording of the tax table some pay the normals first the add double time other pay double time rate for the hrs worked
    In and during 2015, the Fair Work Ombudsman has been contacted by a lot of Mine workers, labor hired mine employees concerning the casual rates that are been paid and the great indifference in payments of groups of labor hire firms that operate in the mine industry, should be an investigative and report into substandard employment practices, Price fixing for casuals within Labor Hire firms on Mine sites as to permanent employees of mining companies. Wage rates, casuals are been paid far less and below standard. In doing so, the FWO should strongly scrutinize carefully any arrangement where a large company sources of labor through smaller companies knowing the sums paid to those companies are not sufficient to meet the employee entitlements of the workforce that is not on a permanent status with the Mining Company, Casual pay as to permanent pay.
    Potentially, this should lead to the investigation of larger companies being prosecuted by reason of being in the position and knowing of knowledge of price fixing and Knowingly between other labor hire firms and also mining Companies and be liable for the underpayments, within all multiple levels of contracting between the business receiving the benefit of the labor and the people working in the business doing the labor (labor hired employees).
    The FWO should be committed to using the Fair Work Act provisions to ensure parties do not turn a “blind eye” to maximum employee entitlements, and hold to account those who are involved in contraventions of the Act. With price fixing and underpayments. Of labor hire employees of those labor hire firms
    Human resources managers, directors, CEOs of these companies who do all these deals behind closed doors with these mining companies of all labor Hire firms need to be investigated and take active steps to prosecute and ensure employment and contractor’s price fixing arrangements do not comply with the Fair Work Act and applicable awards, Collective , enterprise agreements are relooked at and to repay all workers of labor hire firms be reimburse what is owed if through this investigation finds it is so for such payments
    An arrangement (Price Fixing in the work market of labor hire firms )has a ‘sniff’ of an attempt to conceal a true employer employer relationship with casual employees payments to undercutting the safety net for the Employee payments on labor hire , it is only a matter of time before it attracts legal exposure which I am putting to your attention – not just for the companies involved but also for those individuals behind the corporate veil who are taking advantage of these Employees for marginal profits
    There are situations of payments been directed from mining company that Dtime will be paid by them to all workers , but the labor hire companies are hiding behind agreements that are designed by them to suit them and not the casual employee and pay them all the what they claim is the base rate, of which are greatly less with rates for those labor hire firms at great odds in $$$ amounts paid to labor hire workers while other labor hire firms are paying a different rate between two different classifications of employee classification scale
    With the different times in the mining industry we have change with companies as they say restructuring where as to them the benefit from that for costs and profits that put most of the work force be forced out of the permanent position at the company to the labor market which entails them to the scrutiny of the labor hire firms in where the payments will differ greatly there are labor hire employees still working for such firms for more that 4 to 5 years as casual labor hire and this is wrong they are unable to claim sick and holiday payments because of the casual classification but yet have worked for that labor hire firm for more than 12 months so they the labor hire firm does not pay them entitlements ,we are in a world that is changing for these big companies but nothing is changing for the employees of the mining industry except low wages that is governed by the companies and the labor hire firms
    Gone are the days when you were on labor hire with a company after 3 – 6 months you would then be picked up by that company on a permanent position within that company, those days have gone and brought on by these big companies that adjusts to need in the market all that said does not allow these companies and labor hire firms to confided with each other to suit the market for themselves with market prices set by them and others ,computer links between all labor hire firms with the companies for which has a direct influence on employment opportunities for individuals seeking to move from one place to another place with conflicts with labor hire firms diminished information as to the restrictions placed on the individual employee
    Yet, in truth, the real cost of these arrangements has been in the minds and placed a burden on all these employees and of public opinion with all mine casual labor employees, they are some of the casual labor hire victims of 2015and what they have discovered working in the mining industry for which they are told if you don’t like it there’s the door or you don’t get that particular job they treat you just an number and not the person

    Do you have a colleague or friend you think will benefit from
    Knowledge is one of the biggest assets. So why not forward this on to your friends and colleagues so they too can start taking advantage and put pressure on the the Australian government and your local member both state and federal and FWO to investigate this And fix this injustice for casual employees in the labor hire industry

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