FIFO jobs Queensland have been the centre of controversy and a thorn in the side of BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA).
Since BMA decided to use a FIFO workforce at two of its Queensland mines, Queensland’s Bowen Basin communities have rallied to have their collective voice heard at the state government level.
Once again, BMA has come out of its corner with its gloves held high - defending its bold decision to use FIFO workers for its Daunia and Caval Ridge coal mines in Queensland.
One of the reasons BMA is so adamant their FIFO decision is a good one, is because there are already six other mines in the Bowen Basin that employ locals from the surrounding communities.
“BMA stirred up a hornet’s nest”
BHP Mitsubishi Alliance have locked horns with local politicians who have in turn stirred up a hornets nest by holding talks with their state counterparts. The topic of conversation is over BMA`s business decision to mandate the use of FIFO workers for upcoming mine developments and expansion projects in Queensland.
Local MP’s want Queensland Premier’s support over FIFO jobs
MP’s for Dawson George Christensen and Capricornia’s Michelle Landry represent the towns of Mackay, Rockhampton, out to Collinsville, Moranbah and Dysart. They recently met with Queensland Acting Premier Jeff Seeney to see if they can get something done about BMA’s FIFO plans.
“there was a lot of community anger about BMA’s FIFO stance”
Politician Michelle Landry said there was a lot of community anger about BMA’s decision to not use locals, with many people forced to move out of their towns in order to secure work.
“BMA has compelling reasons for FIFO decision”
Many people are forced into a decision to relocate to find work, and this is not just confined to the mining industry. It’s a tough decision by BMA, however, the reasons for a total FIFO workforce must be compelling enough for BMA to stick to their guns.
BMA has new mines planned for Queensland
The politicians are being stirred into action and responding to community discontent by looking to protect local jobs. BMA has proposed expansion plans for underground coal mines Broadmeadow and Goonyella Riverside.
Plus there are ambitious plans to build a new mine called Red Hill and its workers will be fly-in fly-out.
“geographic discrimination – FIFO employees”
At the new BMA Queensland mines of Daunia and Caval Ridge, the workforce operating those mines has a large number of FIFO employees – although MP for Dawson George Christensen said allowing mining companies to recruit only from certain areas amounted to “geographic discrimination”.
“I have nothing against FIFO workers,” he said.
“But what (BMA) have done is say no one can apply who lives locally and regionally – it’s crazy”.
A politician’s view
That statement in itself is very narrow minded and is indicative of a political agenda.
Ask a local politician about the spot price of thermal coal, the oversupply of coal, the emerging countries who are hell-bent on supplying our existing clients at a discounted rate and running a profitable mining operation – and you could be met with a minute of silence.
Like it or not, many people have to wake up to the fact that mining is just like any other business. Mining companies have a mineral product, they have to prepare that product for market, develop relationships with customers, ship that product to the customer and then get paid by the customer.
“mining is a workplace with a mix of mindsets”
Mining operations are run by people, and people integrate in the workplace with all sorts of mindsets, experience and individual outlooks on how they view their work obligations.
Just because a BMA mine is located close to two or three towns does not guarantee the local community’s workforce will be automatically given high-paying mining jobs.
A mining workforce transformation
We’re seeing a distinct transformation across the mining and resource sector in Australia with mining companies clearly voicing their views on who they choose to work for them.
“it’s time to get smart about the future”
Enough of the old way of thinking – it’s time to get smart about the future. The time is right for mining companies and employees alike to focus on building a solid industry that comprises the right mix of qualified and results-driven people who want to contribute to the growth of Australian mining companies.
“a diverse workforce was high on the priority list -BMA”
Defending BMA’s move to operate its newest mines with a remote workforce, it said having access to a diverse workforce was high on the priority list.
A spokesman for BMA said it was critical that mining operations remain competitive and to do this BMA must attract the very best people and in doing so there has to be a mechanism in place to provide a choice of workforce which includes residential and FIFO options.
However in a letter to The Observer, BHP Mitsubishi Alliance defended its FIFO policy, making it’s point that it was a major employer of Queenslanders, with some 4000 workers residing in Central QLD.
BMA also shut down the rumour mill by saying it was not planning to transition its total Qld workforce to FIFO. The company had invested in the communities and built 400 new dwellings in the last two years in these communities to accommodate their workforce.
“50% of the workforce at the mine are cleanskins”
BHP Mitsubishi alliance has made it known that their approach at their Queensland Daunia mine has resulted in a workforce consisting of 25 per cent women and almost 50 per cent of the workforce at the mine are new [cleanskins] to the mining industry.
“BMA has consistently supported local communities”
BMA also made a point of mentioning that their mines bring financial opportunities to the local communities through the BMA Local Buy Program – as well as having supported local services and making significant community investments.
Whichever way you look at the FIFO issue – the fact remains that Australian mining companies are competing in a tough global market and will do everything they can to maintain a profitable business, including the provision of FIFO jobs in Queensland.