Australian law firm Adero Law said mining operations underpay workers employed through staffing companies. And it announced the launch of a class-lawsuit on behalf of 800 workers at the Mount Arthur Coal Mine, operated by mining firm BHP, as well as staffing firms Chandler Macleod and Tesa.

The Brisbane Times newspaper reported the workers claim to be AUD$40 million (US$27.7 million) worse off because they were hired by staffing firms, or “labour-hire firms” in Australia, than if they were permanent staff. Adero Law claimed staffing firms were used to avoid paying proper wages and entitlements under Australia’s “Black Coal Industry Mining Award 2010” and “The Fair Work Act 2009.”

Mount Arthur Coal Mine is located in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, inland and to the north of Sydney.

“The increasing casualization and loss of job security has caused Australian families to suffer,” Adero Law’s Rory Markham said. “In an industry where the profits keep going up, the savings aren’t being passed on to the workers. These actions call on Big Mining to pay its debt to the Australian communities who have assisted Big Mining to become so profitable.”

The lead claimant in the case is mine worker Simon Turner.

Adero Law is also investigating other actions against mining companies in the region, including Glencore and its recruitment firms Programmed and Skilled as well as Coal & Allied, and its recruitment company SubZero.