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Western Australia


Tahmoor contractors organise and win

March 27, 2024

Tahmoor workers employed by RStar mining have gone from being the lowest paid contractors in the South-West District to voting up a new enterprise agreement with higher pay and improved benefits, after organising their workforce from less than 25% membership to nearly 70%.

Workers have secured an initial 5.3% increase and two 4% anniversary date increases, overtime paid at double time, increased leave provisions and a $2,500 sign on bonus, as well as other benefits.

South West District Secretary Andy Davey credits the new improved agreement due to members organising their workforce, particularly through the establishment of a Delegate Network on site and having an active bargaining committee.

“It was really important for us to get in front of workers at Tahmoor and be able to chat to them about the issues around the enterprise agreement, particularly around pay and their hourly rate.

“We began with around 80 members at the start of this round of enterprise bargaining and build up to around 220 members out of around 330 workers.

“Our Delegates were out their having conversations and building their contacts after each shift and it was incredibly encouraging to see the number of members getting bigger each time.”

Andy said that contractors far outweigh the permanent workforce by about three to one and it was a key objective to build solidarity among workers to secure a better deal and vote down substandard offers that company may have tried to lock in with a divided workforce.

“RStar Mining proposed an enterprise agreement in 2023 which did not address many of our concerns around pay, but because we had built a strong presence on site, we were able to defeat that.

“Through being organised and having the density, we were able to communicate with the majority of the workforce about what the company was doing and stay united.

“We are very proud of our members who stood strong together and secured this outcome.”

Last year, MEU members at Tahmoor also established an important win that RStar mining could no longer deduct annual leave during a public holiday, and workers who had annual leave deducted in the past would have that recredited in their annual leave balance. This win was possible due to RStar members who took this issue to the Fair Work Commission.

The new agreement was approved at the beginning of this year.

While all opportunities will be taken to win Same Job Same Pay orders at mine sites – building power in the workplace through union density is still critical for continuing to improve pay and conditions, said Andy.

“RStar workers have shown what a difference it makes when workers stand together, not only on pay but in improving a whole range of conditions. Whatever the issue, employers know that when the union is strong, they have to listen.”

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