A MINERS' union will today launch a national campaign urging MPs in mining communities to back long-term casual workers in their fight for entitlements.

Ads featuring a naked coal miner will target mining regions on TV and social media.

CFMEU Mining and Energy's Protect Casual Miners campaign will call on locals to email Dawson MP George Christensen and encourage him to support coal mine worker's rights.

It argues these are under threat from a legal battle over casuals' backpay.

The Federal Government has entered into a High Court case over whether casual workers who do regular shifts are actually permanent workers with a legal right to potentially billions of dollars in cumulative backpay for annual leave.

Attorney-General Christian Porter said he had applied to intervene in the case between coal mine worker Robert Rossato and labour hire firm WorkPac as the company appeals to the High Court to clarify what casuals should be paid and how offset arrangements should work.

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CFMEU national president Tony Maher said it was vital to ensure the interests of miners were represented in the debate.

CFMEU Mining and Energy's Protect Casual Miners campaign.
CFMEU Mining and Energy's Protect Casual Miners campaign.

"We know multinational companies are very good at making noise in Canberra," Mr Maher said.

"This campaign is about ensuring the voice of Australian mineworkers is heard just as loud and just as clear.

"If you work full-time on an Australian mine you should get the conditions you're legally entitled to as an Australian worker, like sick leave and holidays. It's that simple."

Mr Maher said the Federal Court had twice ruled casual coal miners working regular, full-time hours on advance rosters were not casuals by law and should therefore be able to claim permanent benefits like paid leave.

"The world is an uncertain place in 2020," he said.

"Mining will play a critical role in Australia's economic recovery and the workers keeping the industry strong deserve job security and their legal entitlements."

The cost of labour hire to mining regions. Picture: The McKell Institute.
The cost of labour hire to mining regions. Picture: The McKell Institute.

This week, Mr Christensen accused the Australian Labor Party of "lying" about the High Court case.

 

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"This legal matter is not about stopping conversion from casual to permanent work but about whether casual workers who are paid leave loadings should be paid holiday pay and sick pay on top of that," he said.

"The reality is many Mackay businesses will be bankrupted if they are forced to provide all this back pay - and then there'll be no jobs."

Earlier this year, the McKell Institute found $296.95 million was being lost from the Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday economy annually due to lower wages paid to mining contractors.



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