State Government Abandons FIFO Workers

The joint leadership of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU), the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), and the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) have condemned the State Government for abandoning FIFO workers.

The State Government has today released its response to The Impact of FIFO Work Practices on Mental Health: Final Report, supporting less than half the report’s 30 recommendations.

AMWU State Secretary Steve McCartney said unions were most concerned about the government’s failure to accept the report’s recommendation to establish a FIFO Code of Practice.

“Unions pushed for this inquiry and we welcomed the bipartisan report, which rightly recommended the establishment of a Code of Practice to address FIFO work arrangements and the negative impacts on employees mental health,” said Mr McCartney.

The final report made a number of recommendations that were strongly supported by the WA trade union movement. These included:

  • Encouraging more family friendly rosters;

  • Developing a FIFO Code of Practice which emphasises worker access to high quality and reliable communications technology;

  • Minimisation of motelling accommodation practices, and where possible, its abolition;

  • Expanding the duty of care provisions under occupational health and safety legislation to cover incidents which occur within employer provided accommodation.

The unions are concerned that the only substantive recommendation the government has agreed to is to keep a database of reportable deaths.

“Colin Barnett was opposed to any inquiry into FIFO mental health from the beginning. And now at the end of it, all he’s actually committing to is counting the dead,” said Mr McCartney.

“Once again he has put the big end of town first and sold out hard working Western Australians.”

ETU State Secretary, Les McLaughlan said there was a real and urgent need for standards of work practice in the FIFO sector.

“A formal Code of Practice should be established as a matter of urgency,” said Mr McLaughlan.

“We expected the Liberal State Government to take these recommendations seriously, but instead we see it walking away from any tangible commitment to the well being and mental health of FIFO workers.”

Mick Buchan, the State Secretary of the CFMEU said that a Code of Practice should be the bare minimum in place to ensure a healthy work life for FIFO workers.

“It underpins the integrity of all the other recommendations, and without it, weakens the 14 recommendations that the government has agreed to.

“The mental health and well being of workers should always come first and we will continue to campaign to improve this work practice for the benefit of FIFO workers and their families.”

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