FIFO workers fire up about reporting bias

Police in Gladstone have described the problem of FIFO workers becoming involved in alcohol-related crime as “significant”.

It is understood that police believe the average number of charges laid against FIFO workers amounts to 30-40 per cent of the offences where liquor plays a part.

Australian Mining and Gladstone Observer reports yesterday of a FIFO worker found guilty of assaulting or obstructing a police officer and failing to leave a licensed premise drew fast criticism from readers, with claims that the reports were “a real beat-up of a story”.

Readers expressed their distaste for reporting on a FIFO worker involved in an alcohol-fuelled assault, with comments like “What is the relevance to the story and the fact that the person involved in the scuffle being FIFO was irrelevant to the incident? And why is this headline news on a mining website?”

All FIFO workers are not this type of YOBO. A remark with no substance to your claim. Making all FIFO workers with the same brush… just shows how one sided someone can be. I work with many FIFO men and women and have done for many years, it only that one bad apple to stuff the job or the activities of the broader group but show some respect for the people that do the right thing.

A comparison of the population statistics by Australian Mining showed that compared as total populations, a small number of workers from within the total Curtis Island population of around 6,000 were responsible for 30-40 per cent of the alcohol-related incidents that took place in the Gladstone population of around 62,000.

A reader compared these figures to the population of employed Gladstone locals, and suggested that the male workers of Curtis Island make up 30-40 per cent of the alcohol-related charges of an estimated 15,000-18,000 local men in the workforce.

“Of those aproximately 40% will be women, now down to about 15-18000 guys employed… All of a sudden that 30-40% figure looks reasonably average measured against the male population generally. 6000 vs 15000, does indeed look like 40% (although totally unacceptable behaviour, FIFO or not)”, reader FIFO 1 suggested.

From Defendor: “Never mind the fact that the local population is a term used very loosely in Gladstone since the amalgamation of local shires and councils. Gladstone itself probably has about 35,000, Tannum/Boyne another 15,000 with the remaining 10,000 spread across 10, My point being that it actually infers that the FIFOs are better behaved than the locals on a per capita basis.”

2011 statistics showed that the local workforce in Gladstone numbered around 30,000.

Based on these estimates, a FIFO workforce at any one time of 6,000 would make up 15 per cent of a total workforce of 36,000.

Members of the mining community have indicated that tensions between locals and FIFO workers are quite real, and may be the cause of any potential for any misconstrual about FIFO workers causing more trouble than locals.

Reader CrustyFIFO recounted anecdotal evidence that any disparity between trouble caused by FIFO workers and locals may be caused by such tensions.

“I have many memories of locals coming to the various pubs on a Friday and Saturday night in search of “bloody contractors” to start a fight with. They’d stand beside you at the bar and then make out you bumped them and spilled their beer, if you didn’t offer to buy them a new one, it was on. Not surprisingly the bouncers always chucked out the contractors and not the locals!”

Reader Onlooker said: “No-one can deny there is tension between FIFO/permanent residents in mining towns. Given this site covers community issues related to mining, there’s definitely relevance in all facets of the article. It is true that in some sense it’s unfair. Bar fights with other community members aren’t news, but when it’s a FIFO it is. That is all part of the discussion though isn’t it. Sounds like you just don’t want anything bad said about FIFO workers.”

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