AMSJ » Labour hire worker exploitation revealed in court

Labour hire worker exploitation revealed in court

The exploitation of working people in the Bowen Basin and Queensland’s labour hire industry will be the focus of a Parliamentary hearing in Mackay today.

The hearings of the Finance and Administrative Committee come after the CFMEU launched a new Steady Jobs campaign to fight back against the trend of casualisation and forced contracting, replacing permanent work.

The campaign is targeted in Central and North Queensland where more than 11,000 mining jobs have been lost, and another 1500 permanent miners have been pushed into casual contract-based roles in the past three years.

Growth in the contracting industry has been alarming, with mining having the highest percentage of labour hire employees at 10.3 per cent – nearly double the size of the next industry.

CFMEU Queensland District Senior Vice President Mitch Hughes said coal mine workers were hit hard by exploitative agreements but all workers in all industries were affected.

“Queenslanders deserve good, steady, local jobs, not the uncertainty of being unemployed or forced into casual contract-based roles with less pay and no entitlements like sick leave,” Mr Hughes said.

“Coal mining companies cut costs at the expense of workers by forcing permanent employees onto casual contracts with lower wages, no sick or annual leave and without basic protections.”

Mr Hughes said job losses and shifting permanent jobs into casual contract-based roles has had a devastating impact on workers, their families and mining communities

“Casual contractors find it more difficult to build a life for themselves and their families, struggling to get finance for a house or car due to the insecure nature of their employment,” he said.

“It is a dangerous trend for workers and local communities, which rely on good, steady jobs to underpin the well-being of regional towns like Mackay, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Blackwater, Moranbah and Emerald among others.

“Local Federal MPs have allowed this exploitation by labour hire and mining companies by remaining silent on the issue and refusing to adopt stronger laws and regulations.

“They need to realise that if they value their own job security then they need to stand up for ours.”

The CFMEU is calling for greater transparency in the labour hire industry, the creation of a government compliance unit, increased licensing for labour hire companies, a requirement for employees to be paid the market wage rate, and maximum time periods for labour hire agreements.

The CFMEU submission to Queensland Labour Hire Inquiry can be found here.

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AMSJ April 2022