Industry and Economy

Workers' representatives in health & safety arrangements in Qld coal mines

March 2014

Coal mining is a dangerous industry which demands a strong emphasis on ensuring the protection of miners' health, safety and well being.

This study investigates the role and effectiveness of health & safety reps in Queensland Coal Mines and was undertaken by the Cardiff Work Environment Research Centre at Cardiff University in Wales, UK.

The aim of the study is to contribute further knowledge of the effectiveness of the role of worker reps in managing those risks.Early mining disasters resulting in the deaths of many mineworkers highlighted the need for unions to take a proactive role in ensuring their own safety. Originally known as check inspectors, they were first appointed by unions in the Hunter Valley in the 1870s, and in Queensland they gained statutory recognition in 1915.

The study, which can be downloaded as the full report or in summary form, is specifically focused on the experience of representative participation in Queensland coal mines.

Download Full Report (1.9mb) or Summary (< 1mb)


The Australian Resources Boom: sharing the benefits (Larcombe Report)

November 2013

A surge in profits generated during Australia’s decade-long mining investment boom has failed to deliver the long-term economic benefits Australians deserve, according to a new report into the economic benefits of the resources boom. 

The Australian Resources Boom: Sharing the Benefits by Graham Larcombe and SGS Economics and Planning shows that record mining company profits have far outstripped growth in resource taxes and royalties.

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Coal industry in crisis - or still expanding?

By Peter Colley, National Research Director

Thousands of jobs have been lost in the coal industry since the second half of 2012. And if you believe some media coverage, virtually all steaming/thermal coal mines are losing money and so are a large chunk of coking coal mines.

But the job losses came after a few years of rapid job growth as the bosses sought to maximise production rather than controlling costs. It seems that most people knew a shakeout was coming. And there remains a substantial pipeline of committed coal mine investments, even if some of the more ambitious projects are biting the dust.

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The investment boom continues – No sudden drop in major mining projects

By Peter Colley, National Research Director

You’ve heard that the resources boom is “over” – right? That projects are being cancelled across the board, with tens of thousands of jobs lost. That the carbon price, MRRT, red tape, green tape and unions are destroying the industry.

But did you hear that the actual data on major projects released at the end of November showed no real change in direction at all? Perhaps not, because it didn’t fit the media hype.

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Impacts of shiftwork in mining

20 November 2012

Fatigue, illness and stressed partners are some of the potential impacts of shift work in the mining industry revealed in a major new study released today.The first wave of findings from the Australian Coal and Energy Survey conducted by researchers at Griffith University goes some way to explaining why shift lengths and rostering are becoming hot button issues for mine workers, says the CFMEU Mining and Energy Union.

As the mining industry continues to expand, mine managers should pay attention to the research showing that shift work and workers’ ability to have a say over their working hours had far-reaching implications for their physical and mental health and family lives.

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Corporate thuggery contesting Australian Government

August 2012

Peter Colley's presentation to Politics in the Pub at the Gaelic Club in Sydney.

The mining companies' campaign against resource rent taxation is a classic tale of corporate thuggery.

Our mineral wealth belongs to the Australian people. If companies make super ("above normal") profits, they should pay the owners of the asset more.

Download the presentation


Submission to the House of Representatives Select Committee on Regional Australia Inquiry into “Fly-In, Fly-Out” and “Drive-In, Drive-Out” Work Practices

October 2011

The CFMEU welcomes the decision by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia to inquire into the use of “fly-in, fly-out” (FIFO) arrangments.

The rapid expansion of FIFO working arrangements in recent years as a result of the resources boom has a significant impact on workers, their families and mining communities. The experience of CFMEU members reveals that the unregulated introduction of FIFO has brought a number of problems in its wake.

FIFO brings with it a number of sacrifices. Periods of separation and loneliness take their toll, especially where a worker spends more time away from home than at home.

The communities where the FIFO system operates see tension arise between “locals” and FIFO workers. They see the situation as one where they incur great cost but little benefit. They want to attract permanent residents, which they cannot do without proper infrastructure and services.

The CFMEU wants to see the use of FIFO on a proper foundation, where workers, a their families, the local communites and the broader community benefit; not just the corporations.

Our submission makes seventeen recommendations which include:
•    Impact assessments of proposed FIFO workplaces
•    That the impact of FIFO on the local community is addressed, in particular the provision of infrastructure and services
•    Set of standards for Worker Accommodation Villages
•    Corporations to be obliged to provide the necessary modern technology to FIFO families to facilitate communication between worker and familyl
•    FIFO workers to be entitled to all workplace rights while on camp, including dispute resolution and OHS
•    Travel time taken into account as part of working hours
•    That the Federal Government undertakes an extensive public inquiry into the operation of FIFO in Australia

Download full submission


Our mineral dependency - refuge or risk?

September 2011

Tony Maher's presentation to the Catalyst and Australia Institute conference: Making the boom pay... if not now, when?

No one doubts we have a resources boom on our hands but the scale is something that most Australians still don’t appreciate.

And while there is considerable coverage of the skills shortage issues, that’s not the only big issue.

Right now the resources industry is becoming like a gigantic vacuum cleaner hoovering up not only available skilled workers but also investment capital, construction capacity and infrastructure funding.

It’s certainly better to have a boom than a bust or a recession.

But like the housing bubble in the USA, not all economic growth is automatically good. Australia is resource rich but we cannot afford to squander it.

Australia is better placed than most nations to avoid the pitfalls of the Resource Curse but at the moment it doesn’t appear that we are.

Arguably we are failing to position the Australian people and economy for the long term – we are not transforming wealth below the ground into long term wealth above the ground.

Read the full presentation


Unions the answer to solving labour shortage in mining

August 2011

A largely-unacknowledged outcome of the union-busting in metal ore mining over the last 20 years has been high labour turnover as hours were ramped up and working conditions deteriorated.

Read the full article by Peter Colley


Sustainability Reporting

March 2011

A detailed study of the Sustainability Reports of major Australian companies shows they are failing to report adequately or at all on key labour issues like workplace safety, work conditions and job security, according to an independent report released by the CFMEU.

Download Full Report (96 pages, 1.6mb)
Download Summary Report (23 pages, 727kb)
Download Flyer (4 pages)


Maldon to Dombarton Rail Link

Decmber 2010

Submission in response to:

The Maldon to Dombarton Rail Link Feasibility Study Issues paper.

CFMEU Mining and Energy emphatically supports completion of the partially built Maldon to Dombarton rail line. The rail line is a crucial missing link in the state's freight infrastructure and is needed to ensure the long term growth of NSW commodity exports.



Resourcing the Future

March 2010

CFMEU submission to the National Resources Sector Employment Task Force (NRSET) Discussion Paper, "Resourcing the Future".



Senate Select Committee on Fuel and Energy

August 2008

CFMEU submission to the inquiry into the applicability and merit of the fuel tax credit system.



Briefing paper - AWAs

May 2007

A CFMEU position paper - does the mining industry "need" AWAs (Australian Workplace Agreements)?



A Career and a Life in Mining: What needs to be done

November 2005

Peter Colley presented this paper to the Sustainable Development 05 Conference of the Minerals Council of Australia