Contractors v employees: battle over who gets the jobs

A LEGAL dispute process has tried to determine whether sacked mining employees should be allowed to take contractors' jobs.

Clermont Coal, which operates a mine west of Mackay, wants to know if it would be legally allowed to re-employ sacked staff into positions that contractors currently hold.

Clermont Coal, which is associated with Glencore, retrenched six people last year, and the Fair Work Commission is currently determining whether or not those were "genuine redundancies".

If they were genuine redundancies, these former employees would not be able to claim they were unfairly dismissed, the Federal Court heard in Brisbane on Tuesday.

In the meantime, Clermont Coal applied to the Federal Court to determine whether or not it was legally reasonable to free up jobs from contractors and put their own retrenched employees in these positions.

Clermont Coal's barrister, Jim Murdoch, asked the court's three judges to make a decision, and said the resources industry was facing difficult times at the moment and redundancies were common.

"This is an important point which, with respect, cries out for a ruling from the court," he said.

"We're seeking to have the law clarified in circumstances where this issue is quite stark."

But yesterday Brisbane's Federal Court judges said they had inadequate evidence about the situation the resource industry was facing.

They also said it was too early to make that legal determination.

The three Federal Court judges took about 15 minutes to decide that they would dismiss the case.

Federal Court judge Neil Jessup said they could not make a decision while the case was still before the Fair Work Commission.


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