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Two MEU members next to a large coal digger

Bosses attack on coal award will hit long service leave

June 10, 2019

The Australian Industry Group is seeking to vary the Black Coal Mining Industry Award to reduce the scope of workers it covers, affecting important entitlements like long service leave.

The employer organisation has filed an application with the Fair Work Commission to limit coverage of the Award to employees of mining companies. Currently, the Award applies to all workers whose duties are directly connected with the day to day operation of a black coal mine, regardless of the nature of the employer’s business.

The variation sought by the AIG would exclude those workers whose daily work is in coal mines but whose employer is a contractor in a related field, like machinery maintenance. The change sought by the AIG would not affect labour hire coal miners.

The CFMEU is vigorously opposing the AIG’s application.

General Secretary Grahame Kelly said that if the AIG’s application was successful, it would see a significant number of workers in coal mines missing out on the conditions that have been won over many years, including more annual leave and accident pay than other awards. It would also lead to those workers being excluded from the Coal Long Service Leave scheme, a national portable scheme offering 13 weeks paid leave after eight years.

“Coal Long Service Leave is an important benefit for coal mineworkers that our Union has fought to defend over many years.

“Under the scheme, employers are required by law to pay into a fund to make sure all coal miners can take paid leave after eight years. It is only fair that if you work in a coal mine, you get industry standard long service leave.

“We have been working hard to maximise coverage and make sure that contracting companies who have workers in coal mines are paying into the fund. Unsurprisingly, some of these employers would rather keep the money for themselves.”

The AIG is seeking to backdate the variation to the award to 2010 as a means of wiping the debts of those employers who were supposed to be paying into the fund but have not.

A hearing into the matter is set for October.

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