September 29, 2023
Next week, Senate hearings will get underway into the Albanese Government’s Closing Loopholes Bill, which contains Same Job Same Pay provisions for labour hire workers.
Getting the Bill through the Senate is the final hurdle facing the Same Job Same Pay laws that our Union has campaigned for over many years.
The introduction of the Closing Loopholes Bill to Federal Parliament on September 4 was a major milestone in the long battle for justice for labour hire mineworkers.
It would allow workers and their unions to apply to the Fair Work Commission for Same Job Same Pay orders if labour hire workers at a worksite were performing the same work as permanent employees covered by an Enterprise Agreement.
When introducing the Bill, Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke made special mention of coal miners. He gave a shout out to our member Brodie Allen, a labour hire coal miner at a Queensland coal mine who was in attendance at Parliament, saying the laws would stop him being paid less for doing the same job. Before and since coming to Government, Minister Burke has spoken to many coal miners and has expressed a strong commitment to closing the labour hire loophole commonly used in our industry to drive wages down.
Unfortunately, the Liberal Nationals and One Nation have teamed up to ensure there’s a catch. Coalition and crossbench Senators including One Nation’s Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts voted to delay a Senate Inquiry into the Bill – and therefore the date the new laws can come into effect.
Despite being on track to smoothly pass through the lower house, the Senate opposition voted to extend the due date of their report into the Closing Loopholes Bill until February next year. They voted to give themselves almost five extra months to do their job, giving big business an additional five months to conduct their adversarial campaigns.
We are committed to campaigning for Same Job Same Pay and the fair reforms included in the Closing Loopholes Bill until they pass through the Federal Parliament and become the law of the land – including participating in the Senate Hearing process.
Under the current detail of the Bill, the Union could start making applications for Same Job Same Pay orders once the legislation passes through Parliament, and orders granted by the Fair Work Commission could be enacted from November 2024. We will be keeping our members up to date with the details of the Bill as it travels through the Parliament.
In addition to closing the labour hire loophole, the Bill would also end the permanent casual rort, give greater protections to gig workers and finally ensure that employers who knowingly steal wages face criminal consequences.
Even though Labor came to office promising these reforms, Coalition and One Nation Senators have said their concern was the length and complexity of the Bill.
We believe Australian workers see this move for what it is: a delaying tactic to avoid paying workers their fair share, even if just for a few more months. Business is continuing to campaign hard against the reforms, with fresh claims in the papers each day about how the sky will fall in if workers are paid properly.
We can expect the Coalition and their One Nation helpers to keep fighting tooth-and-nail to prevent the Bill from passing and ending big business’ rorts. After all, One Nation has form when it comes to using their numbers in the Senate to overturn rights for labour hire and casual workers.
While the Senate delay is a setback, we remain confident that the Closing Loopholes Bill will successfully pass through the Parliament.
Follow and support the campaign at samejobsamepay.com.au