$3m payout to CQ miners after union fight
IN A legal win expected to influence the future of the industry, hundreds of Central Queensland miners will receive backpay totalling $3 million.
The workers from Peabody's Coppabella mine will receive about $15,000 each after the Fair Work Commission found a requirement to attend the site office 15 minutes before their shift for preparations and transport was work time.
CFMEU Mining and Energy district vice president Steve Pierce said the legal win would be significant for not only the mining industry but other workforces.
He said the issue was first brought to the CFMEU's attention in 2016.
"In 2016 Peabody instituted a change that required workers at the Coppabella mine to attend the main administration building 15 minutes ahead of their shift start to complete tasks like swiping in, finding out the nature and location of their shift and transport to their on-site pre-start briefing," he said.
"Straight away workers filed a dispute claim against Peabody and informed the CFMEU about the change.
"Workers believed they were entitled to receive pay for the time they were required at work."
Mr Pierce said despite the dispute claim, Peabody made a decision to continue underpaying their staff.
"Peabody decided to ignore the evidence and ignore the significant number of workers who had made a complaint about the new policy," he said.
"It was at that stage the CFMEU took the issue to the Fair Work Commission."
In response to the ruling, a spokesperson for Peabody Energy said the company would accept the decision.
"Peabody accepts and acknowledges the Fair Work Commission's ruling and will move to implement the required payments to our workers within the set time frame," the spokesperson said.
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said Fair Work's ruling was a victory for unionism.
He said it was also a deserved win for mine workers who had been underpaid for three years.
"If your employer requires you to be somewhere to prepare for your shift then that's work," he said.
"You would hope Peabody might have recognised this, but the important thing is the Fair Work Commission has.
"This decision underscores the importance of unions in the industry and across this country. It is significant in defining 'work' and is relevant across all industries."