Gladstone Rio workers cash in thousands from holiday stuff up
FORMER Rio Tinto workers are cashing in thousands of dollars, years after they've left the company, because of a holiday pay stuff-up.
A review of how Rio Tinto deducts annual leave found they weren't abiding with a National Employment Standards rule around days booked off during a public holiday.
This week shift workers from Rio Tinto owned projects including QAL, Rio Tinto Yarwun and Boyne Smelter Limited have been contacted by the mining giant, claiming they could be owed money.
Rio Tinto's miscalculation involves its projects in east coast Australia.
One former QAL worker told The Observer he was expecting to receive $1500.
Workers still on site involved in the annual leave saga will receive time in lieu.
The back pay will cover annual leave taken on a public holiday incorrectly deducted, dating back to November 1994.
A former QAL maintenance worker, who wanted to remain anonymous to protect his son's job prospects, said he was "totally surprised" when he was contacted this week.
"I've had contact with people that were shift workers at QAL and they're looking at getting $9000, another person is hoping for $6000," he told The Observer.
"It's very surprising to be quite honest," he said.
The Gladstone man, who worked for QAL for almost 30 years, took a voluntary redundancy in March last year.
While he said it could be "just an oversight", he said it highlighted how little workers knew about major industries.
"Just goes to show how the little man doesn't understand how the top end of town works," he said.
The former worker received a signed letter from QAL this week, seen by The Observer, explaining the company could owe him money.
The letter says, "Under the National Employment Standards, which applies to QAL, the QAL Alumina Award 2003 and the QAL Enterprise Agreement, when a shift worker requests annual leave, long service leave or personal leave over a period which includes a public holiday, the public holiday should not be deducted from leave balances".
FORMER Gladstone Rio Tinto workers could be owed money from the mining giant for missed holiday pay.
Shift workers from Rio Tinto owned projects QAL, the Yarwun refinery and Boyne Smelter Limited are being contacted after the mining giant reviewed its annual leave calculations.
In some cases, if workers took annual leave which fell on a public holiday, they should not have lost that day as annual leave.
Now former workers involved are being repaid and workers still on site are receiving time off in lieu.
It's believed the company is contacting former workers from as far back as the mid-90s to reimburse them for incorrectly calculated holidays.
The issue isn't just exclusive to Gladstone too, with a Rio spokesperson saying "it's an issue mostly on the east coast - the right procedures are now in place at all sites".
Rio Tinto has mines and refineries in New South Wales, north Queensland and Tasmania, however it would not confirm which of these were involved.
"We have completed a review into the way we have been recording certain types of leave taken by shift workers on public holidays," the Rio Tinto spokesperson said.
"We will be correcting our records and re-crediting leave taken historically over public holidays for current employees and reimbursing certain former QAL, BSL and Yarwun shift workers in the coming months."
Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union Gladstone organiser Phil Golby said it was a complicated issue and varied depending on a worker's contract agreements.
Put simply, he said, "If you take annual leave, long service or anything like that, and a public holiday falls in the middle of that, you should not lose that public holiday," he said.
"Some people are going to get something out of this, others aren't."
Mr Golby and other AMWU officials were notified recently about the annual leave issue.
"I think it was very honourable of them that they notified us of what they are doing, and some people will benefit out of it all," he said.
"On face value at the moment it seems like they've done the right thing."