Workers at Anglo American’s Grosvenor coal mine are fighting labour hire employment contracts that rob them of job security, as the mine restarts production following last year’s devastating underground explosion.
The Miners’ Union on Friday filed an application with the Fair Work Commission challenging ‘maximum term’ employment contracts sprung on workers last month.
The contracts provide for a 12-month extension but also state workers may be sacked any time or have their contracts extended.
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland President Stephen Smyth said workers were recently given the contracts at very short notice, being told they would lose their jobs if they didn’t sign or would be presumed to be accepting the terms if they continued showing up for work without signing.
He said the mineworkers are in reality permanent workers who deserve the job security and entitlements that go with permanency.
The Union’s application makes the case that ‘maximum term’ contracts aren’t provided for under the terms of the FES Coal Greenfield Agreement 2018 utilised by labour hire firm One Key.
“Most of these workers have been working at Anglo’s Grosvenor Mine for several years,” said Mr Smyth.
“Despite this, One Key and Anglo have been trying to make sure they remain indefinitely in insecure work by having them sign dodgy ‘maximum term’ contracts that provide for termination at any time.
“The contracts are designed to try and ensure that these workers remain on tenterhooks about their future and never get a meaningful opportunity to bargain for fair terms and conditions.”
The recent Queensland Coal Board of Inquiry heard that 76% of the workforce at Grosvenor are employed by labour hire and contracting firms, with insecure employment arrangements affecting workers’ ability to raise safety concerns.
Mr Smyth said Anglo must take immediate steps to ensure workers are offered permanent and secure work.
“When it comes to improving safety, we don’t need gimmicks, we need employers to take real and tangible steps to improving job security. Getting rid of these dodgy ‘maximum term’ contracts would be a good first step.
“The impact that insecure labour hire arrangements have on safety is the worst kept secret in the industry. If the mining companies won’t act, the government needs to step in.”