Mining industry launches campaign to win FIFO support

WA’s Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) has launched an advertising campaign aimed at winning support for fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) work schedules, which have become standard practice for workers in the mining industry but which still attract criticism from detractors.

The ads, which began with screenings in Mandurah’s cinema and across the South West, promote FIFO as a lifestyle choice made by resources sector workers and their families.

CME chief executive Mr Reg Howard-Smith said the campaign would help Western Australians understand that FIFO is a personal choice for workers and their families.

“FIFO provides families with choice. We support strong regional communities and local employment throughout the state, but the reality is FIFO is a preference for many employees in WA’s resources sector,” he said.

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Mr Howard-Smith also said CME welcomed the findings of an independent report by ACIL Allen Consulting into the economic benefits of Rio Tinto’s regional FIFO program in Western Australia.

“The ACIL Allen report highlights Rio Tinto’s regional FIFO programme continues to make a very significant economic contribution to regional WA, employing over 2000 employees from regional towns, in addition to those in the Pilbara region,” he said.

“Residents of regional towns are provided greater job choices and the ability to remain in their home towns, where many have established family commitments and support networks.

“FIFO employment has a long history in Western Australia and remains a popular work practice. Many people choose to work FIFO because it suits their family situation, and it is important that this choice of employment is protected.”

Contribution: The mining industry is raising awareness of the contribution the resources sector makes across the state, including in Mandurah. Source: CME.

Contribution: The mining industry is raising awareness of the contribution the resources sector makes across the state, including in Mandurah. Source: CME.

In 2015, a parliamentary inquiry found FIFO work practices could lead to a heightened risk of mental health issues, but further data was needed to understand the impacts.

“FIFO workers are under stress working far from home, they need daily support from their families and workmates to make sure they are not overwhelmed by feelings of isolation and depression,” the secretary of the manufacturing union Steve McCartney said at the time.

Former Nationals leader Brendon Grylls, who lost his seat at the March 11 state election, had long advocated for the FIFO model to be replaced where possible with residentially-based jobs.

During the campaign, the Nationals proposed a payroll tax cut for companies with workers living in the Pilbara.

Mr Grylls lost his seat campaigning for an increase in taxes paid by iron ore companies in the North West.

For more information on the CME campaign go to fifofacts.com.au.

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