Created Mon 30/11/2015, Last Updated Thu 3/12/2015

CFMEU Mining and Energy division delivers more than $10 million for members in 2015

Our union has delivered more than $10 million for members in a range of legal battles throughout the year.

General Secretary Andrew Vickers said it was great result for members in a tough year, and underlined the continuing importance of unions to working people in Australia.

“Where the union has been able to protect members who have been attacked or sacked by employers, and get their job back, that is very, very pleasing – that is why we do the job,” Mr Vickers said.

Port Kembla Coal Terminal - reinstatement

One of the big wins of the year was having coal port workers Adam Giddings, Jason Rosewarn and Jennifer Aber reinstated after they were sacked by Port Kembla Coal Terminal (PKCT) for doing nothing more than protecting their fellow workers.

South West District Vice President Bob Timbs said the successful Federal Court case stood as a warning to other employers.

“A group of managers colluded to terminate the employment of three workers which led to a successful legal campaign to get their jobs back,” Mr Timbs said.

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Front page: Illawarra Mercury reports on Alan Giddings' Federal court case

“The company thought they could just roll over the top of a couple of workers but the union will never let that happen to our members in the Illawarra.”

Clermont - reinstatement

North of the border in Queensland, the union also fought this year to return Clermont mine worker Alan Scott to his job after he was sacked simply for being an effective unionist.

Queensland District President Steve Smyth said the successful court case was backed by the union, but wouldn’t have been possible without Alan and his families steadfast resolve.

“To see Alan go back to work was one of the highlights of the year – it was one of many hard fought battles in 2015,” Mr Smyth said.

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Alan Scott returns to work after successful court battle

Government agencies should be doing more

These successful court cases are symbolic of the union’s role in the community, but Andrew Vickers said they unions shouldn’t be fighting alone, and government agencies should be doing far more to protect workers’ interests.

“We’ve recovered more than $10 million for workers this year in the mining and energy industry alone. In comparison, the Fair Work Ombudsman has only managed to secure around $23 million for workers, and they are supposed to protect the interests of every single worker, in every industry, in Australia,” Mr Vickers said.

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Centennial Coal - underpayments recovered

The significance of some of the legal battles fought this year on behalf of workers by the union have stretched well beyond the individual. In a landmark Federal Court case in July, the court rejected the argument made by Centennial Mining Services that annual leave can be ‘paid out’ at a lesser rate on termination of employment.

Northern District President Peter Jordan said the union pursued underpayments made by Centennial Coal to a number of workers after they were retrenched.

“The result was that around 900 workers are going to receive in excess of two million dollars as a result of the CFMEU’s application in the court,” Mr Jordan said.

Springvale - extension

Other significant wins for the union include the successful campaign to approve the extension of the coal mine at Springvale and South Western Districts Vice President Graeme Osborn said it would sustain hundreds of jobs in Lithgow.

“The decision to keep the Springvale mine going for at least another 13 years is huge for our community in Lithgow and followed months of campaigning by the union and the broader community. It really brought the entire community together,” Mr Osborn said.

Big battles lay ahead

There are big fights still ahead of the union, including the acceleration of moves by companies to contract out permanent jobs across the entire mining industry and Andrew Vickers foreshadowed a big campaign to address these practices.

“Next year we will see a continuing, if not increasing, attack on workers by mining companies – an attack on their jobs, their conditions and anything they can strip away to inflate profits,” Mr Vickers said.

“We will fight back hard against these moves next year and we ask members to stand with us, and non members to get involved, be a part of it, and join the union.”

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