Dozens of former and current Port Kembla Coal Terminal workers are set to share in about $2.5 million worth of additional superannuation payments after a successful ruling in the NSW Industrial Court.
The NSW branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union launched legal action against Port Kembla Coal Terminal in 2005 challenging the fairness of new superannuation arrangements following the state government’s privatisation of the terminal in 1990.
The union argued the privatisation had led to multiple workers at the site being disadvantaged when it came to their superannuation entitlements.
CFMEU legal director Alex Bukarica said when Port Kembla Coal took over operating the terminal, it moved employees off the public sector super scheme, promising the replacement scheme would leave them no worse off.
However, the CFMEU argued that had not been the case and workers had been left worse off under the new provisions.
‘‘After an epic eight-year legal case, a decision by the NSW Industrial Court’s Justice Haylen agreed with the CFMEU’s case that the workers who stayed on after privatisation had been left significantly worse off in regards to superannuation,’’ Mr Bukarica said.
Seventy-eight operators who worked at the terminal between 1990 and 2005 will each receive an average of $30,000 in compensation as a result of the court ruling.
“This case has been a very long haul but it is a great outcome for workers who took the consortium’s promises at face value,” Mr Bukarica said.
“They had been employed on a defined benefits superannuation scheme and were promised the replacement accumulation scheme would not leave them worse off.
“Our members were promised something the employer couldn’t or wouldn’t deliver and with this decision they’ve been vindicated.
“The message to employers is that misrepresenting the implications of a change to workers and disadvantaging them is not just unfair, it could be unlawful.”