CFMEU loses on appeal
Battle for worker entitlements at Cook Colliery continues
Wednesday 07 June 2017
Attempts by the CFMEU this week to force the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to arbitrate a dispute over the terms of the Cook Colliery Enterprise Agreement (EA) has failed.
The CFMEU has been pursuing the owners of Cook Colliery through the FWC arguing that Caledon Resources had breached the EA by not paying miners their entitlements after the mine was flooded more than a month ago.
“Australian workers are left behind with no pay, no explanation and no certainty over their futures,” The CFMEU’s Glenn Power said.
“Workers have been told they cannot access their long service leave or redundancy entitlements until the company goes into liquidation – and even then, there is no guarantee that workers will receive all funds owed to them.
“The majority of affected workers and their families have already suffered severe financial hardship following a two-month stand down period without pay.”
A fortnight ago the CFMEU looked like they might get their way through the FWC when Commissioner Spencer accepted the CFMEU’s arguments saying they were: “at liberty to apply for the matter to be brought on for a Directions Conference”.
However Caledon appealed the decision, and after a lengthy technical discussion about the exact wording of the EA, Commissioner Spencer’s decision was overturned.
“The Commission does not have jurisdiction to arbitrate the dispute in accordance with clause 32 of the agreement as there was no express agreement between the parties for such to take place,” a full Bench of the FWC ruled.
“Accordingly, we are of the view the appeal must be upheld, and the Decision of Commissioner Spencer must be quashed.”
Cook Colliery - Queensland’s oldest underground mine - was flooded on the 7th March from an unknown source. No injuries were reported.
However, with 85% of Caledon’s productive coal areas flooded the mine was entered into voluntary administration.