BHP’s decision to use a 100 per cent FIFO workforce instead of hiring from inside the local Central Queensland community, has enraged locals, the unions as well as the wider mining community at large.
With two coal mines in Bowen Basin about to start production, it was widely hoped that BHP would source the 1000 employees needed for the project from the surrounding areas of Moranbah, Dysart, Mackay and Rockhampton.
Instead the workers will be flown in from Cairns and Brisbane. In what comes as a slap in the face for Bowen Basin locals, the miner set aside 250 vacancies exclusively for tradespeople from the Cairns region while 14,000 Brisbane-based tradies have already applied for the remaining 750 jobs.
Australian Mining reported last week more than 8000 people have applied for 250 jobs advertised by BHP for its two new mines.
A BMA spokeswoman said the demand for the fly-in fly-out roles in far north Queensland was ‘overwhelming’.
“The applications for these roles have closed and BMA received an overwhelming response from people in the Cairns region, including women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and people with limited coal-mining experience,” she said.
“The recruitment team is working through the next stage of the recruitment process. The team will also soon be conducting a series of assessment centres (interviews) in Cairns as the next important step in the recruitment process.”
The CFMEU said BHP should be condemned for its refusal to hire locals.
“While the company is out promoting the popularity of its 100% fly-in-fly-out policy at the new Caval and Daunia mines with jobseekers from capital cities, it is excluding local workers and undermining regional communities,” CFMEU national president Tony Maher said.
“It is regional communities who bear the brunt of the region’s mining boom with high cost of living, unaffordable housing and clogged and dangerous roads.
“They deserve the job and training opportunities that mining can deliver.”
The move by BHP to recruit a solely FIFO workforce for the two projects comes after a parliamentary report was released earlier this year outlining the damaging impacts the transient workforce can have on regional communities.
“….the work practice is eroding the liveability of some regional communities to such an extent that it is increasingly removing the choice to ‘live-in’ rather than simply ‘cash-in,” the report stated.
“….for operational positions located near existing regional communities, every effort should be made to make FIFO/DIDO the exception rather than the rule."
President of the Moranbah Traders Association, Peter Finlay, said local residents should have the opportunity to apply for jobs in their own community.
"It's seven kilometres from the post office and if you want to work there you can't have an address in Moranbah – how stupid is that?" he said.
"I'm sure somebody buys a hamburger now and then but the vast majority of wages are spent elsewhere."
Isaac Mayor Anne Baker says the people of Moranbah are frustrated and that the influx of people will put more pressure on already straining infrastructure.
"There are certainly critical impacts, for example the roads," she said.
Critics say BHP’s decision shows a total disregard to the report and its recommendations.
The findings of the 209-page report made 21 recommendations to government and 14 to industry including better resourcing communities under pressure from large FIFO and DIDO workforces and removing tax benefits for companies using transient workforces.
The CFMEU are calling for all the recommendations in the report to be fully implemented.
“FIFO should only be used where there is no other alternative, not as standard practice,” Maher said.