LOCKED OUT: The Oaky North miners have been locked out by mining giant Glencore for months while they negotiate their employment conditions for a new enterprise agreement.
LOCKED OUT: The Oaky North miners have been locked out by mining giant Glencore for months while they negotiate their employment conditions for a new enterprise agreement. Campbell Gellie

Landry discusses plan to tackle CQ's casualisation problem

AFTER copping criticism for not doing enough to rein in workforce casualisation, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry has shared her strategy to turn this problem around.

She says it's going to take a concerted effort from all stakeholders to address this widespread problem.

Freed from the shackles of public office, former Mirani MP Jim Pearce levelled criticism at Ms Landry and her federal counterparts, Flynn's Ken O'Dowd and Dawson's George Christensen for not doing enough to address abuse of labour hire companies, contract employees and casualisation by the mining industry.

"I think that our federal members have got to show that they have some balls and start moving to change the laws, change the legislation to protect the wages and conditions of people who choose to work in or around the coal industry," Mr Pearce said.

"It's just unreasonable that these people, call themselves members of parliament and they're not prepared to step forward, say that they are representing their constituents and take on their federal cabinet colleagues.

"If they're not prepared to stand up and go to Canberra, stand up and really take on their colleagues over the casualisation of our workforce, over the erosion of wages and conditions for workers and their families and if they can't do that, they should walk away and give up."

Mr Pearce said he knew hundreds of people, both employees inside and outside the mining industry who benefited from the cash flow generated by having permanent employees at CQ mines.

He accused some of the actions taken by mining companies against their employees over the years as a "disgraceful act of treason on our country".

"The people who lost lives in the first and second world wars would be turning over in their graves if they could see what our governments have allowed the mining companies to get away with," Mr Pearce said.

"Mining companies, have no respect for employees, for the broader community and the people in the board room, senior management and mine management have no conscience.

"Those workers out at the Oaky North mine are highly skilled, highly qualified decent men and women who have been locked out of a mine by a multinational who has the worst record in the world for the way that they treat workforces and the environment."

Mr Pearce said the federal government doesn't have the guts to do or say anything because they were in "bed with these companies".

"Our politicians are prepared to see our men, women and communities suffer all in the name of the federal government servicing or providing greater opportunities for rich people to make more money and the people at the other end see their conditions and wages slide," he said.

Ms Landry dismissed Mr Pearce's accusations that she wasn't doing enough to combat workforce casualisation as "nonsense".

She acknowledged that it was a problem in CQ that she planned to continue advocating in Canberra towards finding a solution.

"I have been taking up the fight on this since I got elected," Ms Landry said.

"We do have a new minister for employment (Senator Michaelia Cash) and I will certainly be making a meeting to talk to them about it.

"It's something that I have discussed quite regularly down in Canberra and I have been very vocal against casualisation of the workforce."

Ms Landry said there was a time and place for casualisation and companies needed the flexibility to employ people when they needed them for short term contracts.

"But I myself believe there needs to be some changes to it," she said.

"We're heading out to Moranbah today and those areas have suffered greatly with it.

"I must say that just before Christmas, there was some good news from BMA that they were putting on 200 more employees out around the Moranbah area and they were permanent positions."

She said every conversation she had with big mining companies touched on the issue of workforce casualisation.

"I do think that it has gone too far and I would like to see more permanent employees in those areas," Ms Landry said.

"You get out into those areas, those towns are bleeding, they are really, really hurting.

"We need to get permanent workers out there and we need to get the families out there."

Ms Landry said when there wasn't a permanent position to anchor a worker and his family in a location, they left town with flow on impacts on the provision of essential services including schools, teachers, doctors and nurses.

"This is certainly something I will be really addressing this year," she said.

"The trouble with it all is there has to be major changes done to the Fair Work Act and George Christensen and myself have had meetings with the Fair Work Commission down there and I have been working with Michaelia Cash's office about what changes can be implemented with this."

She said any changes to the act would affect other businesses, like Coles and McDonalds, who had their own Enterprise Bargaining Agreements.

Ms Landry said unions like the CFMEU "certainly aren't innocent" and needed to be held accountable for contributing to this situation with their own EBA's.

"The unions, the mining companies, the state and federal governments need to work together on this because there's no use blaming one section after another," she said.

"It's a huge issue and I believe that all those organisations and government need to work together on it."

Glencore has been approached for comment.

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