Workplace relations

The minerals industry has a strong track record of creating and sustaining a highly paid, highly skilled workforce.  According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics:

  • Resources companies employ approximately 240,000 people directly in highly paid, highly skilled jobs, mostly in remote and regional Australia
  • Average earnings in the resources sector are around $140,000 a year, more than 64 per cent higher than the average for all industries
  • Resources sector companies paid a total of $23 billion in wages in 2017-18, 75 per cent higher than a decade ago
  • The share of permanent employees in the resources sector is high compared to other industries (84 per cent of total resources workforce)
  • 96 per cent of workers in resources are employed full-time.

In the decade to 2017-18, the Australian resources sector committed $591 billion of real investment in infrastructure and technology, including automation, data analytics, mechatronics, robotics and artificial intelligence.

Realising the full potential of this and future technology will require a more skilled and diverse workforce, as well as more efficient workplace rules.

Australia needs a modern workplace system that supports productivity to sustain future growth in living standards.

The Federal Government should:

  • Maintain competitiveness, flexibility and choice in employment arrangements, including the use of labour hire and service contractors
  • Preserve the productivity gains of enterprise bargaining and resist any return to pattern bargaining or industry-wide bargaining

The MCA broadly supports the Productivity Commission’s workplace relations reform agenda, which the commission has estimated would boost the Australian economy by $850 million every year. The MCA agrees with the commission that the government should:

  • Confine permitted content – over which protected industrial action can be taken – to employment matters that directly affect employers and employees at the enterprise
  • Restore more balanced union right-of-entry rules
  • Allow greenfields agreements to cover the life of projects.

Further, the MCA recommends that the government:

  • Institute a more practical test for the Fair Work Commission to apply when considering applications to terminate expired enterprise agreements
  • Refocus adverse action provisions to discourage unreasonable claims
  • Allow high-income earners to enter into individual agreements