AUSTRALIA – MINERS DISPUTE LABOUR HIRE FIRM ACCOUNTS TO SENATE COMMITTEE THAT ‘CASUALS’ EARN MORE THAN DIRECT EMPLOYEES IN MINING INDUSTRY (NEWCASTLE HERALD)
12 October 2022
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A committee hearing in Sydney, Australia last week heard from mineworkers, labour hire firms, mining companies, employer groups, unions and academics, reports Newcastle Herald. The senate committee examined “equal work for equal pay” amendments to the Fair Work Act. The Fair Work Amendment (Equal Pay for Equal Work) Bill 2022 was introduced to the Senate in February and lapsed at the end of the previous parliament before being restored in July and referred to the Education and Employment Legislation Committee to report back to parliament by 24 October.
The hearing opened with evidence from two coal miners who repeated the arguments they had made across various forums in recent years, that the idea of higher casual pay was ‘a myth’. The labour hire firms including One Key and WorkPac defended their practices. Charles Cameron, CEO of the Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association in turn said the industry was concerned about “the rise of the gig economy”. Mining companies also defended their use of labour hire during the hearing. Minerals Council of Australia CEO, Tania Constable, cited 2021 Australian Bureau of Statistics data to say that the median income for labour hire mineworkers was slightly higher per week than for direct employees. One Nation Senator, Malcolm Roberts, has lodged an amendment to the Fair Work Act to seek to influence pay and conditions for labour hire workers and has said that ‘permanent casuals’ were being abused in the industry.