Mining may bear brunt of IR changes

ONE of the changes proposed in the WA Government’s Industrial Relations Reform Bill is likely to have major ramifications for mining companies.

A new section, 23B, to be inserted in the IR Act has the potential to give unions the ability to tell mining companies which employees they have to allow onto their sites.

Currently, mining companies have the legal right to ban an employee of a subcontractor from their sites.

These bans can be made for a number of reasons, such as safety.

If that employee is subsequently sacked by the subcontractor and an unfair dismissal action is pursued, this section will allow the WA Industrial Relations Commission to make a third party employment order against the mining company to enable the person to come onto the site.

The WAIRC has dealt with similar cases previously.

In one instance, WMC refused to allow an employee of a subcontractor onto one of its sites. That employee was subsequently dismissed and an unfair dismissal action commenced.

However, the full bench of the WAIRC decided that this was not an industrial matter and therefore outside its jurisdiction.

The new section could also have a similar effect on the construction sector.

However, as the Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry has shown, the CFMEU already has the power to tell builders who to hire and fire.

The commission heard evidence about work on the new Woodside headquarters.

Baulderstone Hornibrook staff were given a list of employers the union wanted hired and eventually fell into line with that request.

Ironically, the evidence also showed that several union members who voted for the union’s list of employees to be accepted did themselves out of a job.

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