The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) has won a landmark case against Rio Tinto in Western Australia. The full bench of the Federal Court has ruled that the non-union collective agreements that Rio Tinto had with its mine workers in the Pilbara region were invalid.
Justices Peter Gray, Bruce Lander and Anna Katzmann ordered that the original decision of Justice Robert Buchanan be set aside as they handed down their decision in Sydney. They ruled that the Pilbara Iron Employee Agreement did not come into operation as a valid workplace agreement pursuant to, of the Workplace Relations Act.
The court saying that the deal which Rio Tinto struck directly with the employees in 2008 was invalid would have major repercussions as per an industrial relations lawyer. Similar agreements in the area made at other iron ore operations in the Pilbara region will also come into play.
Gary Wood, the West Australian secretary of the union's mining and energy division said that the decision of the court could affect 1,500 to 2,000 people across Rio's operations it could also flow on to the likes of BHP as well because they made their agreements on the same basis.
Mr Wood added that Rio Tinto had restricted their employees from gaining the benefits under the Fair Work Act. Now the employees had a chance to negotiate the agreements again. He added that the decision meant workers would have the right to be heard in good faith bargaining and to take protected industrial action.