Whistle blower: Labour hire workers are scared to complain
Summary: ANGRY that the federal government wasn't taking the issue of insecure work and abuse of labour hire seriously, a whistle blower has come forward to tell it like it is.....
The CQ coal miner, who spoke to The Morning Bulletin on the condition of anonymity, said he'd experienced stark inequality when comparing the rights and wages of labour hire workers with those of their full time employed colleagues.
In his 50's, the man said he had been mining coal since he turned 17, working full time until 2014 when the down turn hit and he had to "jump on the labour hire band wagon".
He said he'd never seen things as bad as what they were now and after Capricornia MP Michelle Landry down played the extent of the problem in her press conference on the labour hire issue last week, he felt it necessary to correct the record to reflect the true reality on the ground.
He said as a labour hire worker, there was a constant fear of being axed at any time that prevented more people from coming forward to speak out about their situations.
"It's a horrible situation that we're in but we can't do a thing about it," the miner said.
"No one's game enough to say anything, we can't speak up at work.
"It's too easy for them to get rid of us so you've got to just grin and bear it."
He said the multinational companies were using these labour hire companies as a rort and had no incentive to put on full time permanent staff when they could get away with paying staff less with no leave entitlements.
"They are just getting cheap labour, they can afford it, it's too easy for them," he said.
Stories of labour hire workers fearing their job security were heard at a round table meeting in Gladstone in July with Labor's Shadow Assistant Minister for workplace relations spokeswoman Lisa Chesters and the Labor candidate for Flynn, Zac Beers.Tegan Annett
Working in labour hire, the miner said pay adjustments and sackings were communicated via text message and over the past four years he had received three pay cuts (up $5 per hour is slashed) and once received a six cent pay rise.
"That's not a pay rise, that's a poke in the eye with a stick," he said.
He knew someone who had worked in labour hire in the same job for eight years.
"If you make one little stuff up and you're sacked," he said.
"They haven't got a cent to back themselves up. There's no redundancy, no holidays, sickies. It's just, you're gone and you get sacked by a text.
"Does that sound wrong to you? It's wrong to me. You do a length of service like that, you should be entitled to something."
"But they just wipe you, put your job on Seek, see you later, we don't want you anymore."
Working in a particular mines, he said you had to play the game and accept whatever pay and conditions were offered by the labour hire business was selected by the mining company.
This often meant working side by side with another permanent miner, doing the same job but being paid significantly less and not receiving any leave entitlements.
"Back in the day, a casual worker earned 25 per cent more than a permanent to make up for the holidays, sickies, that he loses and now I'm working next to people earning 30 percent more than me," the miner said.
"I don't understand how this is right."
Labor's Candidate for Capricornia Russell Robertson (left), Queensland Senator Murray Watt, young worker 'John' and Shadow Assistant Minister for work Lisa Chesters believe more needs to be done regarding labour hire.Leighton Smith
He said when bad weather prevented work from occurring for days at a time, full time miners were still paid while he wasn't.
"Every time we turn around it's a bloody struggle. I would like something to happen," he said.
"They play us like toys, we're just consumables.
"It's a bit hard with a family mortgage battle on no one wants to help.
The miner despaired that he'd return to secure employment saying "the labour hire companies have just gone too far to stop".
"I don't understand why we can't be put on as permanent, labour hire mobs are making a fortune out of us."
"After three months or six months work, you should be put on as a permanent," he said.
The miner said that he wasn't speaking out to draw pity, but rather to draw attention to the issue and to provide a level of understanding of the situation to the political powers that be.
EXPANSION PLANS: Dragline at dusk at Goonyella Mine.
"What I'm trying to do is help the broad spectrum of people on labour hire," he said.
"Someone's got to speak up."
He said he called Capricornia MP Michelle Landry's office to complain about the situation and a staff member took a message to hand on to her and that was the end of it.
"Labor's trying to have a go at [fixing it] and all she's trying to do is attack Labor and say they're lying," he said.
"They're not lying. I'm in the middle of it. Nothing what they've said is lies.
"Help us out. We need help. Something needs to be done about this labour hire bulls--t."
The Morning Bulletin followed up the concerns of the coal mining whistle blower with Capricornia MP Michelle Landry's office.
LISTENING: Capricornia MP Michelle Landry will look into the matter.Chris Ison ROK160518cmorrison3
Ms Landry's spokesperson sought to address the issues raised by the miner.
"Ms Landry's office is contacted by numerous members of the public about a numerous range of issues," the spokesperson said.
"Ms Landry is committed to delivering a fair and even-handed service to all those who require assistance.
"We recently received contact from a labour hire worker who has some concerns about current trends in the local workforce, especially regarding rates of pay."
The spokesperson said Ms Landry is acutely aware of these concerns and will raise these concerns with not only Minister Laundy, but with stakeholders across the industry.
"Ms Landry has a track record of standing up for CQ workers and will not allow them to be sold out by the latte-sipping agenda of the south," they said.
"Every worker, whether permanent, casual or labour hire, is protected by the Fair Work Commission, any worker can contact the Ombudsman - even on an anonymous basis - to help clear up any concerns they have about their employment rights.
"Thanks to a Coalition Government that prioritises jobs over green ideology, we have a very strong resources sector, with over 1400 jobs available across the state."
The spokesperson said Ms Landry, like anyone, knew that not all jobs are equal and that's why she is so committed to growing and strengthening the job market so people can get a better job in CQ.
"Opportunity and choice form the bedrock of freedom and with a strong resources sector, Central Queenslanders are well-placed to enjoy that freedom," they said.