Jul 2nd, 2018
Though their rosters were published months in advance, 400 casual workers at the BHP owned Mount Arthur Coal Mine in Muswellbrook are starting a class action against the mining giant and labour hire companies Chandler Macleod and TESA. The class action is now closed however, when it is officially filed and served by the Canberra based firm, Adero Law, it will be deemed an open action that will cover all workers that fall within the class definition. The claims are valued at more than $40 million.
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This legal action is ground-breaking. As casual rates have dropped, and the resources sector has ‘casualised’ the workforce to save paying entitlements such as sick leave and holiday pay; permanent workers have earned more than casuals doing exactly the same work. Simon Turner the lead plaintiff, says he was hired to work a regular predictable roster and was denied benefits or job surety. In 2015 he suffered a workplace injury when the truck he was operating was hit by a coal excavator, leaving him with a permanent disability. He claims he was refused the industry standard accident compensation because he was classified as a casual worker.
It is not just former casual workers who are taking part in the class action. Grahame Beech is a current casual operator at the Mount Arthur coal mine and was recruited by Tesa. He has been a casual worker for six years. Mr Beech said casuals were always hopeful they would be offered a permanent job.
Casual workers make up 40 percent of workers at many mines. The lack of job security has affected many Australian families and is an industry wide problem. Adero Law is investigating further action against other mining companies.