Australia to untangle mining red tapes, employment dispute

The Australian Government has finalised the primary membership of five industrial relations working groups to find ways to regrow mining jobs post COVID-19.

The groups will have 10 members to tackle known problems in the information retrieval (IR) system holding back the nation’s economic recovery.

One of the five key issues being addressed will be greenfields agreements and project approvals for new enterprises within the mining industry in a bid to create more jobs and boost the economy.

Other issues to be monitored by the working groups include casual and fixed term employment, award simplification, enterprise agreement making and compliance and enforcement.

This follows the Federal Court of Australia deeming casual workers who have worked regular and systematic hours eligible for the same entitlements as permanent employees.

The case involved a retired Glencore Australia employee who worked at the Collinsville and Newlands coal mines from 2014 to 2018.

The court decision was faced by outcry within the industry, with Business New South Wales stating that it sent “shock waves” through the business community who understood that “they were paying casual staff higher hourly rates in compensation for leave entitlements.”

Australia’s Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations Christian Porter said the members of the working groups had a clear understanding of the importance of the task ahead, especially for 600,000 Australians who have lost employment in recent months due to coronavirus.

“On top of those who have lost their jobs, there are millions more who have seen their work hours and pay-packets reduced due to COVID-19,” Porter said.

“We owe it to them to work cooperatively through this process to deliver solutions that will get our country working again.”

Porter will directly chair the first rounds of working group meetings, with third party organisations and individuals invited to advise the groups on relevant issues.

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