Change District


Northern Mining & NSW Energy

NSW South Western




Western Australia

Two MEU members next to a large coal digger

Labour hire at South 32: ‘looks like a misuse of market power’

March 18, 2020

Contract workers at South 32’s underground coal mines at Appin and Dendrobium are facing reduced pay and conditions due to South 32’s unethical conduct towards labour hire providers.

South Western District Vice President Bob Timbs said South 32 was cynically using dodgy labour hire companies with inferior wages and conditions, such as WorkPac, to put pressure on other contract labour providers.

“Our negotiations with labour hire companies in the Illawarra region are following a suspiciously similar pattern,” Bob said.

“We make progress, get close to a deal, but then the employer gets cold feet and tells us that South 32 won’t wear it.

“In particular, they’re telling us that South 32 won’t do business with labour providers that include fixed bonus schemes in their Enterprise Agreements.

“This looks like a serious misuse of market power by South 32 to drive down standards across its labour hire providers.”

In 2019 labour hire company PIMS Group struck a deal on fair pay and conditions with the Union, but after pressure from South 32 bypassed agreement negotiations and engaged WorkPac as a sub-contractor.

Just this month, labour hire firm Nortek reached a South 32 inspired agreement with its workforce, but then immediately sacked around half of its employees.

In the meantime, CFMEU Mining and Energy is currently in negotiations for new or replacement Enterprise Agreements with multiple labour hire companies, while negotiations with a number of other labour hire providers in the region are due to commence soon.

Bob Timbs said South 32 also had an eye on future negotiations for a new Enterprise Agreement with permanent mine workers at Appin and Dendrobium.

“South 32 has been looking to knock off the fixed bonus for permanent employees, and replace it with a production-based bonus, for a number of years.

“The plan seems to be to force the lower bonus through the vulnerable contract workers first, and then pressure permanent employees in the next round of bargaining for the site agreement.

“The CFMEU will continue to fiercely defend the pay and conditions of all miners at Appin – whether they’re employed directly by the mine operator or by contractors.”


Back to News