Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Curragh decision paves the way for further coal industry reform.



Download WordDownload Word

image

THE HON PETER REITH MP

MINISTER FOR WORKPLACE RELATIONS AND SMALL BUSINESS

LEADER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

PARLIAMENT HOUSE

CANBERRA ACT 2600

 

12 August, 1998

100/98

 

CURRAGH DECISION PAVES WAY FOR FURTHER COAL INDUSTRY REFORM

 

Yesterday’s Curragh decision by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission gives a further boost to reform of the coal industry.

 

In handing down its decision the AIRC said “..it is a truism that unless the mine is profitable its future and the welfare of its employees will be in jeopardy.”

 

The AIRC’s decision will protect those jobs that could otherwise have been lost through restrictive work practices.

 

The Commission’s decision generally accepted the Commonwealth’s submission on the correct interpretation of Section 170MX of the Workplace Relations Act.

 

Yesterday the Commission:

 

* rejected union claims for preference based on seniority in respect of rostering and retention (last on first oft);

 

* rejected union claims for provisions regulating the engagement of cont ractors;

 

* rejected union claims for provisions regulating staff levels;

 

* rejected union claims for a ‘work model’ (which places limitation on the way in which work is performed) and for demarcation of work between production and engineering employees a nd staff

 

* rejected union claims for provisions that preserve the operation of local agreements and customs and practice;

 

* accepted Curragh’s claims for 12 hour shifts (the union had sought provisions for shifts of over 8.5 hours to be introduced by agreement); and,

 

* provided for rates of pay consistent with those applicable under Curragh’s existing certified agreement with the AMWU and the 21 existing AWAs.

 

The decision by the AIRC is consistent with the recent Productivity Commission interim report on the black coal industry which concluded that restrictive work practices and labour relations in the black coal industry were a serious impediment to productivity an and competitiveness.

 

The AIRC said yesterday: “We are required to consider how productivity might be improved.

 

“One way in which the Commission can contribute to productivity improvement is to give attention to unreasonable restraints on productivity and to eliminate them wherever that can be done consistently with the maintenance of the fair treatment of employees.”

 

Yesterday’s decision, along with several recent others taken under the WRA have seen significant reforms flowing through the coal industry via award simplification and the use of section 127 orders.

 

MIM has also recently appla uded the WRA, saying it had been a major catalyst for change in workplace relations.

 

The WRA, with its focus on the mutual interest of employees and employers, agreement making, removal of restrictive work practices and limited arbitration is clearly having a dramatic impact on the black coal industry.

 

The changes to work practices adopted under the WRA will preserve the industry and prevent coal mining jobs being exported offshore to lower cost producers.

 

 

For further information contact: Ian Hanke (0419) 484095

 

 

 

rw