Oct 22, 2020

New laws proposed over casual miner quandary

New laws proposed over casual miner quandary

The Federal Government intends to introduce legislation to Parliament this year to give casual miners doing de facto full-time work the right to convert to permanent employment.

Queensland Senator Matt Canavan and Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen revealed the plan in a joint statement today.

They said Attorney-General Christian Porter had written to Mr Christensen specifying the Government’s intent to introduce new laws to provide clear and certain statutory definition and strengthened access to casual conversion.

“…I intend to have legislation in the Parliament this year that addresses the two major issues surrounding casual employment, being the uncertainty around the meaning of casual employment and an employee’s ability to access casual conversion,” he wrote.

CFMEU Mining and Energy general president Tony Maher said it was beyond time the casualisation crisis in mining was addressed.

“We will wait and see what the government puts forward,” Mr Maher said. 

“Previous proposed legislation only offered the right to ‘request’ casual conversion and was simply not good enough to address the systematic casualisation of full-time jobs in the coal industry. 

“We need a meaningful definition of ‘casual’ as intermittent, irregular and without firm advance commitment – not just full-time jobs the boss wants to call casual.”

Mr Maher said very few coal mining jobs were genuinely casual and coal miners deserved the entitlements and job security that should go with full-time, on-going work. 

Senator Canavan and Mr Christensen said the LNP strongly supported miners, their families and communities.

“The Government’s long-standing position is that employers and employees need certainty about their legal entitlements and obligations,” they stated.

“They also need to be fair. This is what builds the confidence that will be critical to help businesses emerge from the pandemic. This will be the Government’s priority going forward.”

The Coalition Government last year introduced The Fair Work Amendment (Right to Request Casual Conversion) Bill 2019 on the issue, but the Labor Party did not support that legislation.