Change District


Northern Mining & NSW Energy

NSW South Western




Western Australia


Same Job Same Pay helps permanents too

March 27, 2024

Union density among labour hire workers – like any group of workers – is the key to improving our collective position.

As we work to translate our fantastic legislative win on Same Job Same Pay into pay rises on the ground, we encourage permanent workers and Lodges to be proactive in building union representation among labour hire workers. This not only increases their chance of a Same Job Same Pay application at their worksite, but also because the collective benefit of Same Job Same Pay returns fairness to our industry, for permanent and labour hire workers alike.

We have spoken a lot about how closing the labour hire loopholes will make wages rise for labour hire workers. While that is going to be a key outcome, Same Job Same Pay will benefit permanent workers by returning fairness to the industry and allowing us to further build our collective strength.

Same Job Same Pay will be a unifying force for our industry through ensuring that employers cannot undermine our hard-won Enterprise Agreements, create more permanent jobs and provide us with a unique opportunity to further build our collective strength in numbers by bringing more labour hire members into the fold.

Same Job Same Pay is good for permanent workers for three key reasons:

1. Same Job Same Pay stops our hard fought for union-negotiated Enterprise Agreements from being undermined.

The key reason mining companies embraced the labour hire rort was to undercut union-negotiated Enterprise Agreements.

Successful Same Job Same Pay orders will set a protected rate of pay, meaning that labour hire workers must be paid at the Enterprise agreement site rate. This means that when the Union is negotiating rates of pay at a Same Job Same Pay worksite, we are negotiating for a larger proportion of the workforce, increasing the strength and importance of on-site agreements.

A common practice we see in the mining industry is employers shrinking the island of their permanent workforce. When a worker retires, instead of replacing that position with a permanent role, employers have brought in a labour hire worker instead.

2. Same Job Same Pay removes the financial incentive to use labour hire, which will lead to more permanent roles.

Same Job Same Pay will lead to more permanent roles as the financial incentive to outsource the workforce through labour hire arrangements is removed.

Companies have already started to rearrange their workforces after seeing the writing on the wall about Same Job Same Pay.

Last year, BHP sold two of its coal mines in Central Queensland, Daunia and Blackwater to Whitehaven, and Whitehaven have committed to transitioning 400 BHP OS workers from labour hire to permanent jobs. Anglo committed to creating 200 new permanent jobs at Grosvenor underground mine near Moranbah, which was previously a 100% labour hire site.

Across the industry, mines which haven’t employed permanents for many years – some for up to eight years – have started hiring workers under site Enterprise Agreements.

3. Bringing more labour hire members behind Same Job Same Pay applications is a unique opportunity to further build our collective strength.

We have campaigned for and won a pathway to wage justice for labour hire workers, many of whom work alongside and perform the same work as permanent workers for 30 to 40% less pay.

Achieving this level of legislative reform is an important win. We must seize this unique opportunity to build our power, through strength in numbers by bringing labour hire members into our ranks.

The labour hire loopholes were devised as a deliberate strategy by mining companies to drive down their wages bill, but a key ancillary benefit for mining companies was to divide their workforce. After all, it’s a lot harder to unite workers at a site where half of the workers are on Enterprise Agreement rates of pay and conditions, and the other half are employed through a labour hire company.

We must now use this as a vehicle to bring as many labour hire members into the fold as possible. This will assist in us lodging more Same Job Same Pay applications, as well as further building our collective strength. Additionally, for successful applications, our legal team will need to collect information about pay, shifts, rosters and work allocations; and we will need assistance from members and Lodges with this. Being able to collect more facts from more labour hire members will assist us in these applications.

Same Job Same Pay will improve the standing of the permanent workforce and members and Lodges are encouraged to take this opportunity to strengthen our collective position.

Our message to all permanent mineworkers and Lodges is to come on board to help us make strong Same Job Same Pay applications for your labour hire mates, return fairness to the industry and make our Union even more effective.

Grahame Kelly is the General Secretary of the Mining and Energy Union

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