The mining sector has accused unions of resorting to “amateur-hour denigration” of the resources industry amid the ongoing stoush over industrial relations changes. Minerals Council of Australia boss Tania Constable lashed out at a union analysis of the claimed cost of the Government’s planned crackdown on the use of labour hire, saying it ignored the broader benefits of the sector’s success. The Australian Council of Trade Unions released a report on Monday saying the mining industry had “pioneered and exploited” a loophole that allowed companies to pay workers less than agreed levels if they were employed through labour hire rather than directly. The analysis said the changes the Government is trying to persuade Parliament to pass would increase the wages of 6410 labour hire workers in mining by a collective $49 million. It compared that with the $304 billion profit the sector reported last year. “The mining industry is so profitable it could give every single Australian worker a 6 per cent pay increase and still be the most profitable industry in Australia,” ACTU secretary Sally McManus said. “It is disgraceful they want to instead hold back all Australian workers from getting better workplace rights.” But MCA head Tania Constable said the union analysis demonstrated “it does not understand the mining industry or the West Australian economy” or the broader benefits nationally. “Desperate to get its hands on businesses in the west, the union is resorting to amateur-hour denigration of the minerals sector seeking to undermine and weaken Western Australia’s most productive sector,” she said. “The bill doesn’t close loopholes. It closes businesses.” Ms Constable pointed out the average annual wage in mining was $151,500, well above the national average of about $95,600. The latest corporate tax transparency report, released earlier this month, also showed the mining, energy and water sector accounted for just over half the tax payable in 2021-22, or $42.4 billion. The report covers 2713 companies operating in Australia, 69 per cent of which paid tax. On top of this, the petroleum resource rent tax payable more than doubled to $1.99 billion in the year, reflecting higher prices and thus profits for oil and gas ventures. “Mining profits benefit all Australians through increased superannuation returns, higher wages and broad community assistance and support, particularly in regional Australia and remote communities,” Ms Constable said. “On the contrary, the union movement is a billion-dollar enterprise with billions of dollars in assets, and pays absolutely no tax.” Data from the Bureau of Statistics shows labour hire workers across the board are more likely to want to work more hours and about 80 per cent of them were employed as casuals. The Government originally wanted the industrial relations legislation passed this year. However, the Senate has pushed it off until February at the earliest with crossbenchers concerned about the complexity of the legislation and having sufficient time to scrutinise it. The laws include requirements labour hire workers be paid the same as equivalent permanent employees who are covered by an enterprise agreement, minimum standards for gig workers, new rights for some casuals to ask to be converted to permanent jobs, and the criminalisation of wage theft. The Government has rejected a bid by crossbench senators Jacqui Lambie, Tammy Tyrell and David Pocock — whose votes will be crucial to Labor passing the changes — to split off four other less controversial measures and make them law by Christmas.