Port workers could lose out in super ruling

Port Kembla Coal Terminal.

Port Kembla Coal Terminal.

Port Kembla Coal Terminal could avoid paying $3.4 million of additional superannuation payments to dozens of former and current workers after a successful court ruling.

The decision, handed down by the full bench of the NSW Industrial Court on August 15, could strip workers of an average $43,000 each if the company wins a further court appeal.

In October 2013, the court ordered Port Kembla Coal Terminal to pay compensation to workers on the grounds they had been unfairly disadvantaged by superannuation arrangements introduced following the privatisation of the terminal in 1990.

The NSW branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union launched legal action in 2005 on behalf of 78 operators who worked at the terminal between 1990 and 2005. The union argued that when Port Kembla Coal took over, it moved employees off the public sector super scheme and falsely promised the replacement scheme would leave them no worse off.

Justice Wayne Haylen agreed, ruling the contracts of employment between the parties were "unfair".

This was quashed by the full bench, which noted Justice Haylen made several errors in his assessment and judgment of the case.

Port Kembla Coal Terminal set out 29 grounds of appeal relating to the initial judgment. The full bench granted the company leave to appeal.