Senate hearings on IR reforms must have WA voice

WA mining sectorProposed changes to Australia’s federal industrial relations laws that threaten critical parts of the country’s minerals industry supply chain with unnecessary cost burdens are being vigorously opposed by CCIWA. 

Nowhere is the uncertainty created by the so-called ‘Same Job, Same Pay’ legislation being felt more keenly than in WA, where contracting businesses that might fall foul of the law changes make a significant contribution to the State’s powerhouse mining sector. 

WA’s mining, energy and contractor industries contributed an estimated $100 billion to Australia’s economy in 2021-22 and directly employed at least 70,000 people. Supply chain spending in the industry created as many as 500,000 additional jobs and added $78b of economic value. 

CCIWA CEO Chris Rodwell has been firm: “All Australians know that the success of WA’s mining industry underpins the success of our entire national economy. What’s less obvious is how crucial mining is to many small and medium businesses in WA who supply equipment and services to mining operations in sectors like manufacturing, transport, professional services – even caterers and cleaners. 

“Most of these employers don’t rely on labour hire yet they will suffer under this ill-advised reform – and that will cost jobs.” 

Flexible workplaces have been a crucial factor in the massive expansion of WA’s mining and mining service sectors over the past two decades, when parts of the industry have been beset at times by standard commodity cycles but also black swan events such as the GFC and COVID. 

“WA’s mining sector is already hamstrung by a skills shortage. Anything that restricts the ability for mining projects to source the highly skilled, specialist workers they need will slow production and cost jobs. These skilled workers are employed by service contract companies and deployed across the economy into different mining projects as they’re needed,” CCIWA CEO Chris Rodwell says. 

“They complete a job for one mining company and move on to the next. That’s key to enabling WA’s mining sector to operate at scale. 

“Australia needs to be positioning itself as the most attractive place in the world to do business if we’re going to capitalise on the green energy revolution, with critical minerals like lithium. 

“These changes are completely out of step with the real-life operational needs of a modern economy.” 

The CCIWA welcomes a delayed vote on the IR changes until 2024 and has urged the Senate Committee examining the Fair Work Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill 2023 to hold hearings in WA. 

Are you concerned about the Federal Government’s IR reforms?  

Get in touch with our workplace experts today by calling our Employee Relations Advice Centre on 9365 7660 or CCIWA Members can book a free consultation with one of our employment lawyers by emailing [email protected].

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