Roy Hill labour hire deal quashed


A labour hire deal covering train drivers at Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill iron ore mine in the Pilbara has been quashed after a successful challenge by our union.

Western Australian Secretary Greg Busson said the District would now seek to negotiate a fair deal for the drivers who work at the operations of the richest woman in Australia in the midst of an iron ore price boom.

The Fair Work Commission full bench decision in granting CFMEU Mining and Energy’s appeal against Karijini Rail’s enterprise agreement was the second time the union has had the agreement revoked because it had not been fairly negotiated or adequately explained and included below-Award conditions.

The non-union deal was originally submitted to the FWC for approval in 2018 after being voted up by just two drivers.

To secure the Roy Hill contract, labour hire group Railtrain set up Karijini Rail as a subsidiary and employed two drivers, who were on probation and still in training when they were asked to vote for a new enterprise agreement with worse pay and conditions than existing Railtrain drivers operating in the Pilbara received.

The rest of the Railtrain drivers at Roy Hill were subsequently moved across to the Karijini Rail Agreement.

The Commission found the agreement ‘lacked moral authority’ because

  • Railtrain engaged in ‘corporate manipulation’ to avoid bargaining with rail drivers and their union representatives
  • Karijini Rail did not tell the two workers who voted up the agreement that they were covered by the Mining Industry Award, meaning they were not informed about industry entitlements due to them
  • The two workers were misled about the likely disadvantages of the new agreement to the existing workforce.

The Commission was particularly concerned that the two drivers were not told how much their breaks would be reduced under the new agreement.

Greg Busson said the Karijini Rail EA was one of the worst examples of sham bargaining in the mining industry.

“Across the industry, we see big mining operations like Roy Hill drive down workers’ pay and conditions through forcing labour hire companies to compete on supplying workers at the lowest possible rate.

“This has been a disgraceful attempt to avoid bargaining with workers avoid paying industry rates and conditions in order to win a contract from Gina Rinehart. We are pleased the Fair Work Commission agrees it is unlawful.

“Every train load of iron ore these drivers transport is worth millions of dollars.

“We are ready to start bargaining for a better, fairer deal for these train drivers. They are highly skilled workers in short supply who play an essential role moving iron ore from pit to port.

“Everyone knows Gina Rinehart doesn’t like parting with her money, but the workers engaged at her operations deserve a fair go for the massive profits they generate.”


Back to issue: August 2021