Thousands of ‘fly-in, fly-out’ (known as FIFO) miners will be unable to return from the outback Pilbara region of Western Australia this week due to limits placed on movement through Perth airport by the latest lockdown regulations.
The Miners Union is now calling on mining companies to provide mental health and practical support to workers unable to return home to, or via, Perth at the end of their scheduled tour of duty, and who must instead work a longer roster.
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) state Secretary, Greg Busson, said workers had been understanding and accommodating regarding changes to transport and accommodation during the Covid crisis.
Support for fatigue and mental health issues
However, he warned they would need support to manage fatigue and mental health issues after more than a year of disruption and lengthy periods away from home due to the pandemic.
“Our resource industry workers have been more than willing to do their bit, but they’re exhausted,” Busson said.
“Some have spent 10 months away from their families and have just gone back to regular living and travel arrangements.
“This week’s lockdown means that thousands of workers will not be able to return home at the scheduled end of their ‘swing’ (rostered time on duty) this week – at least until Friday – and the other crews can’t fly up to replace them.”
Workers are tired and missing their families
According to the union, workers will be missing their families and are tired from an extended period of work. It is therefore calling for employers to recognise the stress workers are under and provide additional support.
Given that the pandemic has been ongoing for 18 months, the CFMEU said government, employers and unions needed to have agreed protocols in place for looking after FIFO workers affected by lockdowns.
The publication Australian Mining reported that a ‘stay where you are’ order has been issued by Western Australian Premier, Mark McGowan, as the state enforces a snap four-day lockdown to combat multiple Covid-19 outbreaks across Australia.
“The outbreak at Newmont Corporation’s Tanami gold mine has forced several Australian states into precautionary lockdowns, with premier McGowan asking FIFO mine workers to remain on site or at home,” the publication said.