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2017 spelled out with a sparkler


2017 – a year defined by major struggles and hard fought victories

December 21, 2017

This year has been defined by many hard fought victories, while some major fights continue for the CFMEU and workers in mining and energy.

The later part of 2017 has been dominated by an epic battle between our union and members, and multinational mining giant and corporate tax cheat, Glencore.

Glencore & the Paradise Papers

Glencore has made enormous profits from its Australian coal operations this year, at the same time, it has locked out almost 200 Oaky North miners in Central Queensland for over 150 days. /news/christmas-appeal-oaky-north-miners

Their stated case for a “modern streamlined award” is really just a ruse for eroding existing rights and conditions to achieve their ultimate end game: replacing all the existing unionised workforce with contract labour that is easier to exploit.

Paradise Papers – watchIn October this year, Four Corners program exposed Glencore’s global tax evasion scheme through offshore havens in The Paradise Papers. If you missed this episode, I recommend catching up on it over summer.

Glencore’s pockets run deep when it comes to paying lawyers and accountants to minimise how much tax they pay to the Australian Commonwealth, but not when it comes to giving their workers a fair go.

Our global union, IndustriALL, is leading an international campaign against Glencore.

We won’t hold our breath waiting for the Turnbull Government to pursue multinational corporate tax cheats who rip Australians off.

While the Oaky North dispute remains unresolved, we’ve worked hard to secure many wins for workers in 2017.

Just Transition

The closure of Hazelwood Power Station earlier this year with only four months’ notice was a blow for 1000 workers in the Latrobe Valley. The CFMEU was instrumental in negotiating a landmark deal for a worker transfer scheme, which was achieved in remarkably quick time, thanks to the strong leadership of the Victorian Labor Government.

The groundbreaking Agreement is helping to ensure a just transition for the Latrobe Valley workers, through measures to minimise job losses, retraining of workers, and an early retirement scheme.

Power station closures are a reality in the energy transition, but that doesn’t mean we have to leave workers on the scrap heap. In 2017 the CFMEU secured a commitment from AGL that there would be no forced redundancies through the planned closure of Liddell Power Station in 2020.

In May, the Queensland Parliament handed down the findings of an Inquiry into Black Lung disease. /black-lung-report-welcomed-more-needed-victims This was the culmination of a campaign by the CFMEU to address the resurgence of this devastating disease. The CFMEU welcomed the recommendations to lower the legal dust limit and put in place better monitoring and compliance. Training for Australian radiologists in early detection of Black Lung was also announced. /australian-radiologists-be-trained-world-standard-black-lung-detection

The Queensland Government continued to respond to workers’ issues raised by the CFMEU, and in August, introduced legislation to ban 100% compulsory FIFO on large Queensland mining and energy projects. /big-win-qld-regional-communities-new-laws-ban-100-fifo

Attacks on security of employment in our industry are not just coming from individual employers. This year, we defeated the Australian Industry Group – an employers’ peak body – in their attempts to extend casual employment provisions in the Black Coal Award to production and engineering workers.

The CFMEU remains vigilant in the fight against casualisation of the mining workforce.

Throughout the year, there was good news for mine workers in various parts of the country.

The announcement of the extension of the Springvale Mine was a win for Lithgow mine workers.

And in an important, late year win, workers at the Cook Colliery in Queensland will receive all their outstanding entitlements before Christmas, after the union secured a commitment from liquidators. It is also likely that some mining will resume at Cook Colliery in 2018.

Sham Labour Hire

Across the industry, attempts to bring in sham enterprise agreements by shonky labour hire firms negotiated with a handful of employees have been thwarted by the CFMEU. Sparta Mining Services registered an agreement struck with three contract workers which set wages at a new low and would have applied to the national workforce. One Key’s agreement, struck with three workers but applying to 118 workers, included the loss of casual employment protections in exchange for $1 a week above the award minimum.

The CFMEU successfully halted both of these agreements in the Fair Work Commission and the Federal Court.

It pays to belong – over $1,000,000 recovered

Being in a union is not just about workplace protections and wage negotiations, as important as those things are. In 2017, we recovered over $1 million in unfair dismissal claims and other entitlements for our workers. When it comes to fairness and making sure you get what is rightfully yours, we’ve got your back.

Oaky North – locked out for over 150 days

We finish the year as strong and united as ever. As we go into the break, our thoughts are with those workers locked out at Oaky North, and we stand in solidarity with them, and all workers who are fighting for justice.

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