More than 20 miners at Helensburgh Metropolitan mine have launched a joint unfair dismissal claim with the Fair Work Commission against mine owner Peabody.
The 24 miners were notified on June 24, 2020, that they would be made forcibly redundant.
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According to documents with the Fair Work Commission, 90 employees at Metropolitan were made redundant, 47 of those were subject to a forced redundancy.
The redundancy moves were flagged by the company in May, in an effort to align "our production levels and workforce needs with current coal demand", a Peabody spokeswoman said at the time.
The joint unfair dismissal claim was lodged in July and Peabody protested the move, claiming the commission had no jurisdiction to hear the matter, given they were "genuine redundancies" under the Fair Work Act.
Before the commission, Peabody stated it decreased mining at Metropolitan due to a downturn in the market for coking coal.
"As a result, it reduced its workforce and the applicants' roles were identified as no longer required to be performed by anyone," the commission finding stated.
Peabody said it had consulted about the redundancy process sufficiently, a claim the 24 miners refuted.
At the core of the unfair dismissal claim was that Peabody retained contractors from Nexus and Mentser on site, while making directly employed workers redundant.
"The CFMMEU argued that the respondent should have averted the effects of the restructure by removing contractors from the mine," the documents stated.
In response, Peabody stated that it "would not be reasonable" to replace the remaining contractors.
"The respondent stated that the work undertaken by the remaining contractors was not normally undertaken by employees of the respondent and that the applicants would require significant training to perform the work," the Fair Work Commission documents stated.
Late last month, Commissioner Bernie Riordan rejected Peabody's jurisdictional objection,
The commissioner stated he was not satisfied that the contractors were engaged in "specialist work" and that "it would have been reasonable" for the miner to insource some if not all, of the work being done by contractors.
The 24 miners' unfair dismissal claim wiwall be heard at a later stage.
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