MINERS: Senator says “explosion” in casualisation has occurred in recent years. Picture: Suzanna/Clarke
MINERS: Senator says “explosion” in casualisation has occurred in recent years. Picture: Suzanna/Clarke

Explosion of casualisation in mines costing economy

A SENATOR has called on Dawson MP George Christensen to stand up for mine workers amid an "explosion" of job casualisation in the sector.

Labor Senator for Queensland Murray Watt has urged Mr Christensen to persuade the Federal Government to withdraw from a High Court battle over casuals' backpay.

The government has entered into a High Court case over whether casual workers that do regular shifts are actually permanent workers with a legal right to potentially billions of dollars in cumulative backpay for annual leave.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said he had applied to intervene in the case between coal mine worker Robert Rossato and labour hire firm WorkPac as the company appeals to the High Court to clarify what casuals should be paid and how offset arrangements should work.

Mr Watt said casual and labour hire workers were not entitled to the same job security, sick leave and annual leave their permanent counterparts received.

Labor Senator for Queensland Murray Watt is visiting Mackay Whitsunday over the next couple of days to talk local jobs.
Labor Senator for Queensland Murray Watt is visiting Mackay Whitsunday over the next couple of days to talk local jobs.

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"That explosion of job casualisation has happened under the Morrison Government and what is happening right now is that the government is joining a High Court case which would make the permanent casual rort in the mining industry permanent," he said.

"I'm calling on George Christensen and Michelle Landry as the local MPs to get on the phone to Scott Morrison and convince him that their government should pull out of this High Court case.

"This is a chance for them to show they are with mining workers."

The cost of labour hire to mining regions. Picture: The McKell Institute.
The cost of labour hire to mining regions. Picture: The McKell Institute.

Mr Christensen has hit back at the claims, saying Labor was "lying again" about the issue.

"This legal matter is not about stopping conversion from casual to permanent work but about whether casual workers who are paid leave loadings should be paid holiday pay and sick pay on top of that," he said.

"The reality is many Mackay businesses will be bankrupted if they are forced to provide all this back pay - and then there'll be no jobs."

The Dawson MP said the Federal Government had introduced laws, after his own encouragement, to the parliament that would allow casual workers to become permanent after 12 months.

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But Mr Christensen said Labor had opposed it.

"If Mr Watt and Labor want this situation fixed, they should withdraw their opposition to the government's plan to allow casuals to convert to permanent work," he said.

Ms Landry said the legal decision meant that Central Queensland businesses already on the ropes from COVID-19, will be close to bankrupt if they need to provide this backpay.

"Now is the time when we need jobs the most," she said.

"It's laughable that Federal Labor issue statements on matters relating to mining workers, when they are the ones who are so divided on coal."



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