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Northern Mining & NSW Energy

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Western Australia

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Carmichael workers organise and win

March 1, 2023

Coal mineworkers at the Bravus Carmichael mine in Queensland’s Gallilee Basin have unionised their workplace and won an industry leading Enterprise Agreement.

Workers have gone from being some of the lowest paid workers on individual contracts to having some of the best pay and conditions in the Queensland coal fields.
In a new Enterprise Agreement voted up before Christmas – the first collective agreement at the site – workers have secured:

13% pay increase over three years including 6% in the first year
$18,000 retention bonus over three years
Guaranteed free flights and accommodation locked into the EA
78 weeks accident pay
Pandemic leave
Outlined salaries including double time for non-rostered overtime and triple time for Christmas and Boxing Day

They also improved their conditions in a range of other areas including payout of personal leave, disputes and representation, training and development, and natural disasters.

District Vice President Shane Brunker said that many workers at Carmichael had been labour hire workers or contractors for many years. He said that many workers were ex BHP OS or from Workpac and were motivated to organise their workplace to win better pay and conditions through a collective Agreement.

Representatives from the Mining and Energy Union started attending the work site from January 2021 and began organising the workforce. After months of conversations, a strong Delegate network was established.

In 2022, the Union put out a petition regarding a future Agreement not having arbitration and representation clauses. The petition received overwhelming support and was signed by around 380 workers at a work site with around 400 workers.

“We started off with about three members at the work site a couple of years ago, and now we have coverage of the workforce of around 400 members.
“Winning the Agreement also wasn’t the end of it, we have now been able to run disputes on things like backpay for higher duties, WorkCover, and assisting members who haven’t been remunerated properly.

“Workers have been commenting about how successful and effective the Union has been on site, and we have seen that reflected in membership.
“Workers were willing to take a stand and now they have gone from being paid below Award level rates to enjoying some of the best pay and conditions in Queensland, in some classifications.”

This win demonstrates how powerful workers can be when they remain united and strong.

“We kept up the fight to win an industry leading Enterprise Agreement. Even before we won the Agreement, Carmichael delivered three pay rises to try to placate workers because they were feeling the pressure.

“Many workers got involved and we had Delegates from across the pit with us. We stood together and we got a great win.”

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