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Changing working conditions of Central Queensland’s coalmines : implications for work-life balance
conference contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Connie ZhengConnie Zheng, John RolfeJohn Rolfe, Vitale Di MiliaVitale Di Milia
In recent years, parts of regional Queensland have experienced overall labour shortages, as a result of rapid expansion of the coal industry due to an increased demand for resources worldwide. These labour shortages increase needs to improve working conditions for attracting and retaining quality employees who will contribute to further growth of the industry. Government authorities, industry bodies and trade unions have all, in the past decade, endeavoured to negotiate and change the working conditions via legislation and flexible work practices. A key question is whether the resulting changes have helped improve factors such as work-life balances so employees are happier, and hence willing to stay working in coalmines. Or have the changes led to more stress for employees, therefore causing a more serious recruitment and retention issue for sustainable development of the industry in the region? This paper involves a review of a series of studies related to different aspects of changing work practices in Australia with a special focus on pay, hours and conditions of work in coalmines of Central Queensland (CQ). The impact of the changes on employment relations, productivity, employees’ satisfaction in terms of quality of life and family relationships are evaluated. It is argued that some evidence of family-friendly, work-life balance employment practices are appearing in the industry, but there is ample room for further improvement.