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The $4.1 billion Auscoal Super has not
been named as a default fund under the Australian Industrial Relations Commission’s
award modernisation process, and a SunSuper attempt to have itself named as
default has been thwarted, after it was deemed unnecessary to add a
superannuation clause to the Black Coal Mining Industry Award. The Award was
one of only a handful of awards recently revised by the AIRC that did not
include superannuation. Colin McGuinness, strategic projects manager at
Auscoal, said not being specifically named in the award was not a problem for
the fund.

“The trustee of the fund has constituent organisations such as the
NSW Minerals Council and the union as its sponsoring organisations,” he said. “Their
view is simply that we have existing arrangements in the coal industry which
are working very well at the present time which nominate Auscoal as the
industry fund for this industry; they see those arrangements as being satisfactory
in the current circumstances and they don’t see that the [AIRC] is attempting
to disturb those arrangements.” Tony Lally, chief executive of SunSuper, said
the bid for coalmining default fund status was an attempt to maintain the fund’s
wide representation across all industries.

SunSuper had been named as a default
fund in between 150 and 200 of the old state-based awards, and has been named
in 17 of the new ‘modern’ awards to date. It competes with AustralianSuper as
most-named fund in the new raft of awards. “We applied to have ourselves included
in all those awards where we were currently represented to maintain our
position,” Lally said. Kieren Turner, chief operating officer at the NSW
Minerals Council and alternate director at Auscoal, said the mining award was
the first to be modernised. “In relation to super, because of the long-standing
customer practice in our industry, it wasn’t felt necessary to [include super],”
he said.

“Auscoal is the predominant superannuation fund, there would be a few companies
where it wouldn’t be, and they might be companies that have their own in-house
super funds, but the vast majority of the companies in the coal industry have
Auscoal as the default fund.” The Award Modernisation Full Bench statements
reveal that a drafted model superannuation provision was only included in
modern awards if those awards already deal with superannuation. “The vast
majority of awards in [the mining] industry do not have a superannuation clause,”
the Full Bench noted. “Submissions made after the exposure draft was published
said little about superannuation.

SunSuper indicated that if a clause was to be
inserted it should be named as a default fund. The Australian Workers Union indicated
that it supported the SunSuper submission and said no more. The Australian
Manufacturing Workers Union submitted that
there should be a superannuation clause if only to provide for a requirement
that employers continue to make contributions while an employee is on workers’
compensation. “None of these submissions have persuaded us that a clause
dealing with superannuation should be in this award.” McGuinness said Auscoal
had raised with the principal parties that there was an opportunity to include superannuation,
and was aware that SunSuper had made a submission. “We were in agreement that
it wasn’t required in the circumstances,” he said.

“We’re an industry that
doesn’t have a lot of new players, it’s a very expensive industry to start up
in, so the bigger players have all been supportive of the fund in the past and
we don’t see that’s going to change going forward.” In early April the AIRC
released the second tranche of revised awards including details of their
default superannuation funds. The revisions, which cover a total of 44 awards,
are part of a modernisation process commenced last year following a formal
request by the Federal Government. The award modernisation requires the AIRC to
modernise more than 2400 awards before the commencement of the Government’s
foreshadowed new workplace relations system in January 2010.

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