Disaster for safety: Mineworkers to confront Rio Tinto over casualisation of mining jobs

Mine safety

Mineworkers will attend Rio Tinto’s AGM in Perth today to confront the company over casualisation of coal mining jobs and its dangerous impact on mine safety. 

CFMEU Mining and Energy General Secretary Andrew Vickers said that insecure work arrangements were a concerning feature of Rio Tinto’s mining operations worldwide and were growing in Australia.

“Contract jobs are replacing permanent jobs in Rio Tinto’s Australian coal mines,” said Mr Vickers.

“A growing proportion of jobs in coal mines are now filled by labour hire contractors rather than permanent positions – well over a third of jobs in many mines.

“This is a bad outcome for workers, who have little job security and don’t enjoy the same pay and conditions as permanent employees.

“But it’s also a disaster for mine safety.

“Contract workers know they could lose their job in an instant if they raise a concern about safety that might impact production and this fear is leading directly to accidents.”

Mineworkers intend to raise statistics from Hunter Valley mines showing that while contract workers represent 35 to 40% of the workforce, they represented 66% of lost time injuries last year.

“Rio Tinto says that contractors and labour hire are only used to manage peaks and flows in production but this is clearly not the case,” said Mr Vickers.

“In Rio Tinto's coal mines in NSW and Queensland permanent jobs are steadily declining even when production is increasing.

“Mining companies like Rio Tinto might like the control they have over a casualised workforce – but it’s a dangerous trend.

“We urge Rio Tinto to prioritise permanent, secure jobs in all its operations.”

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Steven Mandalias

I wish I’d spoken up before it got this bad.”

The CFMEU is Australia's main trade union in construction, forestry and furnishing products, mining and energy production.

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