Aug 31, 2020

Union hails Senate win on ‘permanent casual’ jobs

Union hails Senate win on ‘permanent casual’ jobs

A key mining union has welcomed Senate support for a motion calling on the Morrison Government to crack down on the widespread use of ‘permanent casual’ employment in mining.

The motion noted the rapid growth of ‘permanent casual’ employment in mining and called on the Federal Government to withdraw from a WorkPac High Court case on the issue.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland president Stephen Smyth said thousands of permanent jobs had been casualised across the state’s coal fields and Queensland politicians needed to act urgently to stamp out the ‘permanent casual’ rort. 

“We are disappointed the government spoke against it but pleased this common sense motion has been supported in the Senate,” Mr Smyth said. 

CFMEU Mining and Energy is currently running the Protect Casual Miners campaign, urging politicians to resist employer lobbying to overturn new rights for long-term casual miners. 

“The Federal Court has twice ruled that the ‘permanent casual’ employment model in mining is unlawful. All we are asking is for the Government to back in the court’s decision and support permanent jobs with permanent entitlements for mineworkers,” Mr Smyth said. 

A landmark Federal Court ruling on ‘permanent casual’ work in May confirmed some of those roles should attract entitlements such as paid annual leave. 

But the outcome of the WorkPac v Rossato case – which is being appealed by labour hire group WorkPac – caused alarm in business circles including from resources employer group AMMA.

“The position taken by the Federal Court in multiple decisions now, is that an employee can sign a casual employment contract and be paid a casual loading, but later claim to be owed permanent entitlements,” AMMA chief executive Steve Knott said said at the time.

“This is a remarkable position that is highly damaging to business confidence and will see more internationally-funded class action law firms, many with obscenely large contingency fees, circling Australian businesses like sharks.”

Analysis from the office of Attorney-General Christian Porter showed the Federal Court’s decision in WorkPac v Rossato could leave employers to stump up anywhere between $18 billion and $39.4 billion in backpay.

Mr Porter, who also serves as industrial relations minister, told news media in August that he had applied to intervene in the case to clarify what casuals should be paid and how offset arrangements should work.

  • Below – a peek at CFMEU Mining and Energy’s Protect Casual Miners campaign