Enterprise agreements at the mine include the operators agreement, which covers the general workforce, and the staff agreement, which covers clerical, engineering and management roles such as deputies, undermanagers and longwall coordinators.
In this case a tradesman employed under the operators agreement was promoted to a deputy as covered under the staff agreement, but this was at “some stage” after the staff agreement was lodged to the government authority, according to FWA.
Oceanic sought not to grant this man the additional superannuation contributions under the staff agreement and this was challenged by the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia.
Essentially the dispute boiled down to the wording of the additional super contributions component of the staff agreement, which said these contributions would be made from the date of lodgement and for those “party to the agreement”.
In making his decision in Melbourne last week, FWA vice-president Michael Lawler deleted “and are party to this agreement” in the contract, and replaced it with “and are covered by this agreement at that time”
Lawler also found the deputy was not entitled to the additional superannuation contributions, which equated to $230 per week for deputies under the specific clause of the staff agreement.
But he added his finding was “not binding on any court”, and it was up to the deputy whether he would wish to make a claim “in an appropriate court with a view to obtaining a different construction”