Mount Arthur class action meeting in Singleton

BATTLING: Injured former Mount Arthur contract mineworker Simon Turner, whose refusal to take 'no' for an answer has led to potentially industry-changing legal action.
BATTLING: Injured former Mount Arthur contract mineworker Simon Turner, whose refusal to take 'no' for an answer has led to potentially industry-changing legal action.

THE law firm committed to a class action over alleged under-payment of casual mineworkers at the Mount Arthur coal mine is holding public meetings in Singleton this week to drum up support for its claim.

The meetings at Singleton Diggers Club are scheduled for 6pm on Tuesday and noon on Wednesday.

The class action flows from a campaign – highlighted by Fairfax Media – by a group of former contract workers at Mount Arthur, led by former Chandler Macleod employee Simon Turner, who have contested their treatment at the hands of Chandler’s and mine owner BHP.

A corporate restructure had resulted in the Chamberlains team starting a new business, Adero Law, to run the class actions.

Lead partner Rory Markham said the “town hall style” meetings were to allow anyone interested to quizz him about any aspect of the class action, which alleges contractors have been wrongfully employed as casuals.

ADAMANT: Adero lead partner Rory Markham says the Mount Arthur class action will be filed in the Federal Court in March.

ADAMANT: Adero lead partner Rory Markham says the Mount Arthur class action will be filed in the Federal Court in March.

Mr Markham said Adero was confident the case would be filed by the end of March.

As Fairfax Media has reported, Mr Markham and his legal advisers believe that thousands of contract mine employees have been underpaid because various enterprise agreements have purported to have people employed as casuals, when the award that all enterprise agreements must not be in conflict with states that full-time and part-time employment are the only types of employment available in the industry.

In a letter to mineworkers participating in the claim, Adero said last week that “our counsel in Sydney, Mr Terrence Lynch SC, agrees with our position that you were incorrectly classified as ‘casual’ when you were in fact a full-time or part-time worker”.

“His advice confirms our view that you have a strong claim for underpayments in relation to shortfalls in entitlements as a result of that misclassification,” the letter says.

“This is supported by the advice of an independent assessor, who has similarly reviewed the claims against Chandler Macleod and [another contractor] TESA on behalf of our litigation funder, Augusta.”

Despite Adero’s confidence in its case, the mining companies and contractors being targeted in the action say they have adhered strictly to the law in employing and paying the workers at Mount Arthur.

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