IN an ideal world, there would be an easy and principled way to end the "permanent casuals" conflict that has had coal companies, labour hire firms and the CFMEU going toe to toe in the court with nobody prepared, it seems, to give an inch.
That solution would be for the parties to come to terms on a new wages and conditions structure in the NSW and Queensland coal industry.
Casual employment arose because when the coal companies could not smash the union, they went around it instead.
If permanent miners would forego a probably modest amount of earnings (but still be on far more than other blue collar workers) the lower cost base would mean coal companies no longer needed to outsource their labour, which results in the divisive, two-tier workforce at the heart of Wednesday's WorkPac v Rossato verdict.
The union movement is cheering the decision by a full bench of the Federal Court, and understandably so.
WorkPac had brought the case as a way of countering a verdict against it in another Federal Court challenge, Skene v WorkPac, brought by the CMFEU.
On normal time frames, Rossato could have been decided before last year's federal election.
But the longer it was delayed, the more the speculation (which proved correct) that the decision was bad news for employers, even after the Morrison government had intervened with a submission to the court.
Employer groups fear the Rossato and Skene verdicts because they appear to create an ability to "double dip" on casual hourly rates plus holiday pay, sick leave and other permanent entitlements.
But in the coal industry, the casual rates are so palpably low that casual mine workers say they earn tens of thousands of dollars a year less than their permanent counterparts, with no leave entitlements or job security.
The federal government has said it might back a High Court appeal on Rossato because of its implications for other industries, but the first target should be the wrongs of the coal industry.
There is little trust across the bargaining table, and the labour hire firms, which now supply an estimated 40 per cent of the black coal workforce, would not want to leave such a lucrative market.
Even without the sorts of wrongs exposed by One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts, the coal industry system is unfair.
But can all involved put self-interest away for long enough to fix it?
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