Port Kembla coal terminal workers to share in $2.5m after court win

Seventy-eight people who worked at the Port Kembla Coal Terminal between 1990 and 2005 will receive an average of $30,000 worth of superannuation payments each after a hearing in the NSW Industrial Court.

The CFMEU started legal action against Port Kembla Coal Terminal in 2005 claiming new superannuation arrangements were unfair after the government’s decision to privatise the terminal in 1990.

The union said the privatisation of the terminal left workers on the site worse off when it came to superannuation payments, The Illawarra Mercury reported.

Alex Bukarica, legal director at the CFMEU, said when Port Kembla Coal took over as operator, it took workers off the public sector super scheme, but promised the new superannuation scheme would not disadvantage employees.

Bukarica said the union had clearly shown workers were left worse off under the new deal.

“This case has been a very long haul but it is a great outcome for workers who took the consortium’s promises at face value,” Bukarica said.

“They had been employed on a defined benefits superannuation scheme and were promised the replacement accumulation scheme would not leave them worse off.

 “Our members were promised something the employer couldn’t or wouldn’t deliver and with this decision they’ve been vindicated."

Bukarica said the case should come as a warning to other employers.

‘‘After an epic eight-year legal case, a decision by the NSW Industrial Court’s Justice Haylen agreed with the CFMEU’s case that the workers who stayed on after privatisation had been left significantly worse off in regards to superannuation," he said.

“The message to employers is that misrepresenting the implications of a change to workers and disadvantaging them is not just unfair, it could be unlawful.”

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