A new Federal Court ruling has raised concerns amongst miners, fearing that it may herald the return of militant union activity on West Australian mine sites.
The new ruling stated that an existing non-union collective agreement for Rio Tinto’s Pilbara operations was invalid, and will now allow the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) to bargain on pay and conditions on its miners, according to The West.
CFMEU mining division secretary Gary Wood said Rio managed to avoid the provisions of the Federal Government’s Fair Work Act during its original agreement.
Wood stated that workers will now be able to access these provisions, benefiting them during agreement negotiations.
However, the move has been slammed by the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA), Rio Tinto, and BHP.
The AMMA said the decision will change industrial relations at WA mines, as is “the last thing” resources industry employers and workers need.
The ruling is expected to throw light over agreements on other sites, including BHP’s Pilbara iron ore operations.
The majority of the workforce at BHP and Rio Tinto’s sites are non-union.
Rio said it was disappointed in the Federal Court ruling and is considering legal avenues.
BHP spokesperson Kelly Quirke told The West that the miner is seeking legal advice on the ruling impact for the company.
WA mines minister Norman Moore stated that this ruling will have wide reaching implications for the mining industry.