Upper Hunter by-election: NSW Labor candidate Jeff Drayton vows to introduce a bill to secure jobs for mining workers

BIG PLANS: Labor's candidate for Upper Hunter Jeff Drayton in Muswellbrook on Thursday.
BIG PLANS: Labor's candidate for Upper Hunter Jeff Drayton in Muswellbrook on Thursday.

LABOR has continued their strong support for mining workers ahead of the Upper Hunter by-election, releasing a five-point plan to ensure they get their "fair share".

NSW Labor's candidate for Upper Hunter Jeff Drayton announced that, if elected, he will immediately introduce a bill in state parliament to deliver secure jobs and safer workplaces for mining workers in the Upper Hunter.

He joined NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay in Muswellbrook on Thursday to announce Labor's comprehensive five-point plan which includes:

1. Forcing mining companies to directly employ 80 per cent of workers on sites - Jeff and NSW Labor will require this as a condition of consent which apply to resource planning approvals.

2. Imposing jail time for mining bosses that breach a new industrial manslaughter offence - Jeff and NSW Labor will create a new industrial manslaughter offence in law that will see individuals and companies prosecuted if they are responsible

3. Requiring mining companies to engage in safe and fair workplace practices - Jeff and NSW Labor will include this as a requirement of the 'fit and proper person' test under the Mining Act

4. Ensuring labour hire workers receive the same pay as directly employed workers - This will be imposed by a registration condition for labour hire companies on mine sites; and

5. Delivering a local jobs test - when existing mines in NSW are moving towards greater automation of operations, a local jobs test will require them to:

  • Develop and implement a transparent Local Jobs Impact Statement on any proposed automation in mines that must include consultation with the workforce, their representatives and community representatives
  • Meet a 'No Net Job Loss Test' at the mine as a result of automation;
  • Include additional training for existing employees in any transitional arrangements, so they can retrain into new roles at the existing mine site; and
  • Locate control rooms and technical facilities associated with automated operations at the existing site or its immediate locality.

Mr Drayton said he knows exactly what it's like to work on a mine and workers have been fighting for job security while mining companies cut permanent jobs and replace them with casual labour hire.

"We need to everything we can to restore permanent secure jobs to the mining industry," he said.

"This is about taking every opportunity we can to make sure mining workers are getting their fair share out of mining companies."

Mrs McKay said too many mineworkers are working full-time hours for years, but without the benefits of full-time work - like job security and paid holidays.

"How are people supposed to look after their families or pay off a mortgage without a secure job," she asked.

"Labor's plan for secure, safer workplaces is about making sure that mine workers - who create so much of this region's wealth - get a fair go. That means a job they can count on and a workplace that's safe."

Labor's changes will apply to planning conditions for new mines and for the extension and modification of existing mining licenses.

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