Paul Skene, a former FIFO dump truck driver, sought $27K in annual leave payments with the backing of the CFMEU after working as a casual for two and a half years. His employer fought against it, with the case going all the way to the Full Federal Court which said he was not a casual for purposes of Fair Work Act.
Paul Skene, a former FIFO dump truck driver, sought $27K in annual leave payments with the backing of the CFMEU after working as a casual for two and a half years. His employer fought against it, with the case going all the way to the Full Federal Court which said he was not a casual for purposes of Fair Work Act.

CQ miners join class action to recover millions

HUNDREDS of Central Queensland coal miners are seeking millions of dollars in compensation as part of a class action against labour hire company WorkPac.

The adjourned lawsuit has been resumed after a decision in the WorkPac v Rossato federal court matter was handed down last week.

The CFMEU said the ruling had cleared the way for its class action against WorkPac, originally launched in 2019, which it says aims to recover entitlements "worth at least $12 million owing to hundreds of union members employed by the labour hire company since 2013".

In a major victory for the union movement, the full Federal Court last week rejected the bid by labour hire firm WorkPac to have a former employee, Robert Rossato, declared a casual employee and not entitled to paid leave.

The ruling means workers on regular casual shifts will be entitled to seek paid leave.

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The three judges upheld a previous ruling that casual dump truck operator Paul Skene was not a casual because of the continuous nature of his work on a fixed roster and was entitled to receive accrued annual leave pay.

On Tuesday, a CFMEU spokeswoman said there were 708 confirmed claimants for the class action, with many more new expressions of interest to be reviewed for eligibility.

Of the 512 claimants from Queensland, it is understood a majority of these are coal miners working in Central Queensland and about 120 live in Moranbah.

CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland president Stephen Smyth. Picture: Daryl Wright
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland president Stephen Smyth. Picture: Daryl Wright

Mr Skene - who previously worked in several mines around Dysart, Emerald, Clermont and Coppabella - described the decision as a "win for Australia".

"I think it will have a lasting impact on the industry," Mr Skene said.

"The people that are casual at the moment, all they want is job security.

"I'm happy with the decision that's come out and I'm glad we're finally being recognised as full-time and hopefully we're going to get our entitlements and job security."

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CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland president Stephen Smyth said there were coal miners in Queensland who worked full-time rosters for eight to 10 years as casuals, with no job security and no sick or holiday pay.

"Casual work is out of control in the mining industry, at some Queensland mines half the workforce is casualised, at other mines it's the whole workforce," Mr Smyth said.

The Daily Mercury contacted WorkPac for comment, but did not receive a response by deadline.



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