WorkPac reassures Rio workers over super

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Peter MilneThe West Australian
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A haul truck is loaded by a digger with material from the pit at Rio Tinto Group's West Angelas iron ore mine in Pilbara.
Camera IconA haul truck is loaded by a digger with material from the pit at Rio Tinto Group's West Angelas iron ore mine in Pilbara. Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Labour hire company WorkPac has moved to quell a growing furore over accusations superannuation contributions would be cut for 800 contract workers at Rio Tinto’s Pilbara operations.

WorkPac is now Rio’s preferred labour supplier across Australia after outbidding Programmed Skilled Workforce and DT Workforce.

Employers are required to make minimum superannuation guarantee payments equal to 9.5 per cent of a worker’s ordinary time earnings.

WestBusiness reported on Wednesday concerns from workers transitioning to WorkPac that in some circumstances their superannuation could be more than halved.

About 800 workers were affected, according to an industry source.

VideoConstruction on Rio Tinto's latest investment is ramping up.

At the heart of these concerns was the number of hours used to determine so-called “ordinary time earnings” and how this is applied to fly-in, fly-out workers who may work 84 hours a week for two weeks, and then have a week off.

At the time WorkPac, which has 300 employees and 6500 contractors employed on clients’ sites, did not address any specifics of their superannuation calculations.

A WorkPac spokesman on Friday said that from July 24, all WorkPac contractors at Rio Tinto sites in the Pilbara, both existing and new, over a four-week pay cycle would receive superannuation equal to 9.5 per cent of the employee’s actual hourly rate for 152 hours.

This applied regardless of hours worked, except for an extended time away from work.

“This rate is a loaded rate, meaning it is inclusive of overtime and other allowances. This rate is in line with, or in most cases above, those in our enterprise agreement,” he said.

Using 152 hours over four weeks is consistent with an applicable enterprise bargaining agreement where ordinary hours of work are defined as a maximum of 38 hours a week. CFMEU State secretary Mick Buchan questioned WorkPac’s superannuation methodology.

Australian Mines and Metals Association director workplace relations Amanda Mansini said WorkPac paid more than minimum legislated superannuation, and wages higher than the all-industry average.

“It is disappointing that a scare campaign is being mounted over the terms and conditions being offered by WorkPac,” she said.

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