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Miners take Same Job Same Pay message to Canberra

June 7, 2023

We have launched a new campaign to back Same Job Same Pay laws for labour hire workers and challenge mining company scare campaigns.

At the end of May, a Mining and Energy Union delegation travelled to Parliament House in Canberra to talk to MPs about the damage caused by widespread replacement of permanent mining jobs with insecure, lower-paid labour hire jobs and launch the new ads.

Development of the new laws is underway, with unions, employers and industry groups being consulted on their design. Our print, television and social media campaign will continue running until the new laws pass Parliament.

One week after the MEU launched our campaign, as expected, the Minerals Council launched a bizarre and misleading ad campaign trying to muddy the waters around Same Job Same Pay.

MEU General Secretary Grahame Kelly said that despite mining company fearmongering, Same Job Same Pay laws would be good for the industry.

“Mining companies are notorious for throwing their weight around when governments propose changes requiring them to act in the community’s best interests.

“But Same Job Same Pay will be a positive for mining because it will end a rort affecting the workers and regional communities that sustain the industry.

Same Job Same Pay will improve wages and conditions for labour hire workers and prevent them being treated as second class citizens. It will strengthen collective bargaining by ensuring companies stick to their end of the bargain. And it will be great for regional communities who lose out when big employers cut wages for half the workforce.

“We welcome the Government’s commitment but we are not taking our foot off the pedal until Same Job Same Pay becomes law.”

Our delegation included four MEU mineworkers.

Brodie Allen, Central Queensland

Brodie said: “Labour hire workers are brought onto mine sites to do the work cheaper, there’s no other reason.

“At my mine site, permanent coal mineworkers have recently been given decent pay rises in their Enterprise Agreement to recognise cost of living increases. We don’t get anything because they say we have to compete on the market.

“I’m in Canberra to make politicians aware of how our big mining companies have used loopholes to create a cheaper workforce they treat as second class citizens.”

Rebecca McDonald, Hunter Valley

Rebecca said: “On our production crew of 100, about a third are labour hire. Once they’ve finished training, contractors do the same work as permanent workers but they are paid much less and they miss out on the entitlements available under our Enterprise Agreement.

“Labour hire workers fear that if they join the union, take leave or raise a safety concern, they will never get a permanent job. 

“I was labour hire for about five years and it was exhausting and demoralising.” 

Mark Bryant, NSW South Coast

Mark said: “I’ve worked in coal mining for four years and contracting is out of control. On my mine site, there are multiple labour hire companies providing workers. We all get paid less than permanents employed directly by the mine, but we also get paid differently to each other, even when we are working side by side.

“I’ve got no gripe with the company that employs me, because I know that the terms and conditions for contractors are all dictated by the mine operator.

“It’s very hard to organise for a better deal because the mine operator can just end the contract and give the work to someone else.”

Rob Moran, NSW South Coast

Rob said: “There are 450 mineworkers at my site and only 150 of them are employed by the mine. I’ve been working here over nine years and I’ve been labour hire for the whole time. In the past, everyone in mining was employed direct by the mine operator but that has eroded over the past 15 years. 

“I work underground next to guys earning much more than me, it’s unfair and demoralising. It’s not just at my site where it happens, it’s a common practice in the Southern coalfields. We need Same Job Same Pay to end this unfair system.”

We send a huge thank you to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus and the broader trade union movement for their support. We also thank Hunter MP to Dan Repacholi for his continuing support on this issue and for his advocacy in the Parliament.

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