FORECAST: GPC boss believes the price of coal won't keep rising.
FORECAST: GPC boss believes the price of coal won't keep rising. Lee Constable

Mining companies cut wages by exploiting dodgy loopholes

A MINE worker employed by a labour hire company who is earning less money than a mining company employee has no legal recourse to better wages, a Queensland parliamentary committee has heard.

The Queensland parliament's finance and administrative committee on Wednesday heard labour hire companies could provide workers to mines for a lower wage than mining company employees because the mining award did not cover labour hire companies.

Speaking at the hearing Maurice Blackburn Lawyers principal Giri Sivaraman said labour hire companies could legally argue they did not have to adhere to the "black coal award" because they were not mining companies.

"The labour hire company will say 'We're not covered by the mining award' because they aren't engaged in mining," Mr Sivaraman said.

"That means there is no industry remedy for the person who is being paid less," he said.

The committee also heard anti-discrimination laws were unlikely to protect the workers. Mr Sivaraman said the anti-discrimination laws specifically covered areas such as gender and ethnicity.

Maurice Blackburn is calling for licensing in the labour hire industry.

Building Service Contractors Association of Australia Queensland division executive director Craig Pollard said the existing laws were sufficient but must be enforced more thoroughly.

Mr Pollard said contractors operating legally had to clean up after illegal operators who were exploiting backpackers and other foreign workers.

But Maurice Blackburn principal Rod Hodgson said the problem was "clearly not" just ripping off backpackers.

"It's already across many industries. It is pervasive and serious," Mr Hodgson said.

The committee will consider the hearing and release a report on the matter.


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