Media Release

29 February 2020

NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay has announced Labor will introduce major reforms to workplace practices to ensure mining workers in NSW are given a fair go.

Speaking at Labor’s Country Conference in the mining hub of Singleton today, Ms McKay outlined sweeping measures a McKay Labor Government will legislate as conditions of planning approval to require mining companies to engage in safe and fair workplace practices.

“Miners deserves a fair go – here in Singleton, across the Upper Hunter and right across NSW. It’s time to stand up for mining workers and their families – and Labor will,” Ms McKay said.

“My Hunter upbringing has taught me Labor must always stand for jobs – the jobs of today, and the jobs of tomorrow.”

The proposed changes come as miners grapple with growing uncertainty about their job security because of casualisation and contracting. These concerns have driven industrial disputes that took years to be resolved, due to limitations of the Fair Work Act. This causes uncertainty and anxiety to workers, and in many circumstances can pose real threats to the steady supply of coal to power plants.

The following measures will improve protections for coal mining workers in our State:

  1. Mining companies will need to demonstrate they have fair dispute settlement procedures.
  2. Labor will ensure that at least 80 per cent of workers on site are directly employed.
  3. Labour hire workers will be have the same pay and conditions as directly employed workers performing the same or similar work.
  4. And as existing mines move towards greater automation of operations, mining companies will be required to complete a new local jobs test which will require companies to:
    • Develop and implement a transparent Local Jobs Impact Statement on any proposed automation in mines that must include consultation with the workforce, their unions and community representatives
    • Meet a ‘No Net Job Loss Test’ at the mine as a result of automation;
    • Include additional training for existing employees in any transitional arrangements, so they can retrain into new roles at the existing mine site; and
    • Locate control rooms and technical facilities associated with automated operations at the existing site or its immediate locality.

Labor Leader in the Legislative Council and Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Adam Searle said: “For too long big mining companies have been undermining hard won conditions of work, creating divisions in workplaces and communities. All workers doing the same or similar work should receive the same paying conditions. Only a Labor Government will deliver job security for coal mining communities in NSW.”

Labor Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Paul Scully said: “NSW Labor wants a strong, safe, responsible, sustainable and well-regulated mining industry in NSW and central to that is supporting and protecting the pay and conditions of all mine workers.”

Ms McKay has vowed to have these in place within the first year of a Labor Government.