Western Australia will have a chance to voice its concerns on the Federal Government’s proposed workplace law changes with the announcement of a Senate committee hearing in Perth on 6 October.
CCIWA and its Members have expressed alarm over the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill 2023 which includes changes to casual employment, ‘Same Job, Same Pay’, “wage theft” and increased union rights.
CCIWA welcomes the decision to hold a WA Senate inquiry after lobbying the Government to allow WA businesses, including small and medium-sized businesses, to have their voices heard.
A reform that doesn’t perform
The Federal Government’s planned changes to workplace laws will cause pain in almost every part of WA’s economy, says CCIWA CEO Chris Rodwell.
“These are east coast-centric changes that ignore the realities of doing business in WA – yet our State will be hit harder than any other,” he says.
Changes to labour hire laws under the ‘Same Job, Same Pay’ provisions are predicted to have a multi-billion-dollar impact on mining companies who use labour hire for legitimate operational reasons such as commodity swings.
Rodwell says the impact will be felt right along the mining supply chain.
“All Australians know that the success of WA’s mining industry underpins the success of our entire national economy,” he says.
“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.”
A close analysis of the Bill, tabled in Parliament in early September, reveals companies that supply service contract workers with specific skills to work on mining projects have no protections, despite assurances from the Government they would not be affected.
Instead, the Bill leaves it up to the Fair Work Commission to determine whether the ‘Same Job, Same Pay” labour hire laws apply to those firms.
Rodwell says companies that win competitive tenders to carry out specialist work for mining projects will be caught in the web of the Government’s “radical” workplace agenda.
“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,” he says.
“These skilled workers are employed by service contract companies and deployed across the economy into different mining projects as they’re needed.
“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.”
Feedback from CCIWA Members includes concerns about increased cost and complexity “in an already complex system”, saying the changes will “decimate the mining industry” and “turn the system upside down”.
Many are also worried about increased union rights.
CCIWA has made a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment which outlines the major concerns of Members and the wide-reaching impacts on business.
Are you concerned about the Federal Government’s IR reforms? Click here for more information or 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].