July 27, 2023
Our Same Job Same Pay campaign has been launched in mining centres, with more events to come as we roll out our ads to challenge mining company scare campaigns.
We recently held two launches in Cessnock in the Hunter Valley and Rockhampton in Central Queensland, both areas strongly impacted by misuse of labour hire in the mining industry.
Hunter Valley launch
In June, mineworkers gathered in Cessnock. Delegates spoke to media about how Same Job Same Pay would affect them and how their response to scaremongering ads from employer groups.
MEU Delegate Rebecca McDonald who is a heavy equipment operator in the Hunter Valley spoke to media about the mistreatment and lack of security faced by labour hire workers in the mining industry.
Rebecca said this issue has had a significant impact on her and her workmates. The overall safety of the workplace is compromised as labour hire workers fear speaking out about issues, reporting injuries, or taking time off when necessary. Rebecca recognises the importance of addressing these concerns to ensure a safe and equitable work environment for all employees.
Northern Mining and NSW Energy District President Robin Williams said we have seen extremely misleading ads and information being spread by the Minerals Council and employer groups about what this legislation will mean.
He said it was important that we get the message out into regional mining communities and talk to those who will benefit from Same Job Same Pay
“The mining industry here in the Hunter Valley pioneered the business model that has seen whole sections of the workforce outsourced to labour hire and that’s why our ads will resonate in the community.
“The Minerals Council are disgracefully suggesting that some workers are paid less because they are bludgers. The truth is that many workers are paid less simply because they are contractors, rather than direct employees.”
He said that Same Job Same Pay would result in a fair economic return to mining regions for the enormous value produced by their communities.
“Mining communities lose $1 billion a year from local economic activity due to mining companies exploiting the labour hire loophole which drives down wages and conditions – including nearly $250 million a year hear in the Hunter Valley.
Latest data from Coal Services shows that in the NSW Northern District coalfields, 43.2% of open cut and 21.9% of underground coal miners are contractors, rather than direct employees.
“That means the Hunter Valley will be one of the biggest regional beneficiaries from Same Job Same Pay laws for labour hire workers.”
We continued the roadshow up in sunny Queensland where MEU Delegates also gathered and addressed media, including Brodie Allen, an Operator in Central Queensland.
Brodie gets paid $40,000 less a year working as a labour hire mineworker in Queensland compared to direct employees.
When Brodie applied to become a permanent employee, he was told he wasn’t suitable for the job – the job he is doing right now.
Mining companies aren’t offering permanent jobs to workers because they can’t do the job or because they don’t have experience – they are simply using labour hire loopholes to cut their wages bill.
MEU Queensland District President Stephen Smyth said the MEU would continue getting out to mining communities and cutting through the BS we have seen from employer groups.
“Mining companies engineered the exploitative labour hire business model and they don’t like being called out on it. They are trying to confuse people about Same Job Same Pay, but we are committed to getting the message out into regional Queensland about how this legislation will benefit workers and their communities.”
He said that Same Job Same Pay would be especially important for workers across the Central Queensland coalfields, with many employed through labour hire companies including BHP’s Operations Services.
Mr Smyth said that BHP’s admission that closing the labour hire loophole will cost them $1.3 billion showed how much they have taken out of workers’ and communities’ pockets by relying on lower-paid labour hire workers rather than direct employees.
“We have workers in BHP Operations Services who are paid just above the Award rate with minimal guaranteed conditions, meanwhile direct BHP employees covered by the BMA Central Agreement are paid up to $30,000 to $50,000 more per year despite doing the same job.”
While MEU members in Operations Services have recently won a pay rise and improved conditions after engaging in protected industrial action, Mr Smyth said that closing the labour hire loopholes will be important to strengthen collective bargaining and ensure companies stick to their end of the deal.
We encourage all workers to follow and support our Same Job Same Pay campaign as the new laws are developed and journey through parliament.