FIFO workers told “death” is the only excuse for not showing up to work at Christmas

WA fly-in, fly-out workers are being warned they will face fines and docked pay if they don’t show up to work over the Christmas and New Year period.

A memo distributed to Australian Contract Mining staff at Sandfire Resources’ DeGrussa copper and gold mine located north of Meekatharra in Western Australia, stated that employee’s only excuse not to turn up was “death” which "must be accompanied with a coroner's report to confirm this".

The notice signed by ACM’s site manager and posted on site said staff  would be fined flight and accommodation costs and risk being put on a lower pay grade if they failed to turn up for work, the West reported.

"If you do not fly in, you will be back-charged for the flight that you missed, plus the flight we have to rebook," the notice said.

"Flight cost from Perth to site $450. Accommodation is $80 per night. You will be relegated to a lower pay rate for a minimum of two pays or until I change my mind.

"Just because it happens to be Xmas and New Year when you start your roster does not mean you are 'entitled to have a sickie'.

"By doing the wrong thing and not turning up, you are putting more pressure on your workmates."

The not so Merry Christmas message has been criticised by mine owner Sandfire and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union.

Sandfire’s managing director Karl Simich said the company had contacted ACM and the signs had been removed, the West reported.

"We treat all people who work on our sites with respect, whether they work directly for us or for our contractors," Simich said.

"Under no circumstances do we tolerate insensitive communications with workers at DeGrussa or at any of our sites. Our people are our most valuable asset."

CFMEU mining division secretary Gary Wood said the notice was not only inappropriate it also contravened employees’ rights to sick leave.

"The Fair Work Act provides for workers to access work leave when they're genuinely sick and should they access it at any time of the year, it's irrelevant."

"I think it's just threatening and intimidation of employees at the highest end of the scale. If someone's sick, they're sick," Wood said.

Yesterday Australian Mining reported a Murdoch University survey of 223 FIFO workers found that most employees thought their employers did not care about their wellbeing and most do not feel valued for the work they do.

The same survey reported that FIFO workers’ thought their needs were not being met and many believed their companies were not doing enough to support them.

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