The CFMEU was in a court battle with the mining firm over roster allowances. (File photo)
The CFMEU was in a court battle with the mining firm over roster allowances. (File photo) JOE CASTRO

Hail up the Creek after $46,000 payout order

A PLAN to save money has backfired on a coal company. 

Hail Creek Coal knew reducing a roster allowance would be detrimental to workers, but went ahead anyway, a Federal Court judge has found. 

On Thursday, the Bowen Basin mining company was ordered to pay a major union for breaking fair work rules 506 times. 

The CFMEU went to the Federal Court, where Justice Darryl Rangiah found Hail Creek underpaid 20 employees. 

The dispute stemmed from changes to staff rosters. 

Justice Rangiah said Hail Creek thought that when reducing shifts from 12.5 hours to 12, it could "substantially reduce the amount of roster allowance”. 

The union and the company agreed the breaches happened more than 500 times. 

Justice Rangiah said a Hail Creek HR manager recommended shift changes to save the company money. 

She ran the idea past lawyers, and Hail Creek senior managers accepted her recommendation. 

The CFMEU said it disputed Hail Creek's right to cut back the roster allowance. 

Justice Rangiah said Hail Creek chose to reduce the allowance "for its own financial benefit, knowing that to do so would have a detrimental financial impact upon the affected employees.” 

Because of that, he said a penalty should be imposed. 

The CFMEU wanted a penalty of $250 for each breach. 

Hail Creek said no penalty was deserved because it made an "honest and reasonable” mistake. 

Last month, Justice Rangiah ordered compensation for affected employees.  

He held off making a decision on a penalty for Hail Creek until this week. 

The coal mine company was told to pay the CFMEU $45,540. 

That's $90 for each breach.

The company has 28 days to pay.

The contraventions happened between October 2015 and December 2017 and ended on January 3 this year, when the mining firm reinstated previous roster arrangements. -NewsRegional