Official Media Release

Labor Should Support Coalition Plan To Deliver Choice for Coal Workers

Federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan and State Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen today said coal workers deserved the security of permanent employment given to other casual employees by the Fair Work Commission last year.

They have called on the Labor party to support federal Coalition Government legislation to allow coal workers employed on a casual status to convert to permanent roles.

Minister Canavan said the changes contained in the federal Coalition’s Fair Work Amendment (Right to Request Casual Conversion) Bill 2019 would benefit mining industry workers across Australia, including the tens of thousands of coal workers employed in places like the Hunter.

“A lot of mining companies have relied on having a mix of full time and casual employees, but we know many of these workers would like to be put into a permanent position so they have access to the benefits and security that brings,” Minister Canavan said.

“The clock is ticking and the pressure is now on Labor to back the changes we’ve made to legislation to ensure coal workers can do that if they want to without further delay.

“State and federal Labor MPs and candidates should be on the phone telling Labor leader Bill Shorten to back our amendments.”

Minister Canavan said that, under the new legislation, all employees in the national system will have access to a minimum standard of a right to request casual conversion which cannot be traded away, irrespective of whether their terms and conditions of employment are set by a modern award, enterprise agreement or any other arrangements.

“Last month, the Government introduced legislation to allow regular casual workers in the black-coal mining industry to have the right to request conversion from casual work to permanent work after a 12-month period of employment in one business.

“We need Labor’s support to get the legislation through Parliament in the current term. Unfortunately, the Labor party has so far failed to undertake to support this legislation. I am calling on Labor to support workers in the coal industry and promise to support this important legislation.”

Michael Johnsen said that Labor’s lack of support highlighted the Party’s lack of support for the mining industry and jobs it provides.

“This would be a winner for our working communities in Upper Hunter, but especially our mining workers and their families,” Mr Johnsen said.

“The federal Coalition’s Fair Work Amendment (Right to Request Casual Conversion) Bill 2019, looks to protect not just the industry, but also protect jobs and individual workers.

“Mining is one of four world-class industries in Upper Hunter, the others being the wine, equine and bovine industries, and they are all important to our lifestyle and economy, and job certainty for mining workers should be a priority for all mainstream political parties in the area.

In concluding, Mr Johnsen asked: “When will Labor stand up and join with the Nationals to support our local workers in the mining industry?”