Harlem Shake miner says sacking was ‘harsh’

One of the miners sacked for doing the Harlem Shake has said he was a dedicated employee known for his strong work ethic.

Stephen Dixon said he was not a ‘clown’ that deserved to be sacked, confirming he had hired a lawyer to launch an unfair dismissal claim that would argue it was harsh and unjust to sack the worker over the 30-second dance routine.

The father of three said he had never heard of the dance craze before a colleague suggested it during a crib break at Agnew gold minen The West Australian reported.

The eight dancers, a worker who recorded the stunt as well as several onlookers were fired after the video they posted on YouTube went viral.

In the dismissal letter, Barminco said they saw the stunt as a safety issue and a breach of its “core values of safety, integrity and excellence” and banned the men from working at any of its future projects.

Dixon, a 28-year-old service crew worker said he was hard-worker.

"I suppose some people might think I'm a clown and that I don't take my job seriously but the reality is that I work very hard," he said.

"Management respected me for my work ethic and I loved working for Barminco."

Dixon said the dance was intended to boost morale with workers feeling anxious amid job security fears as Barminco sought to re-sign a major contract with Agnew.

"When someone suggested this dance, it was the first time in a couple of months that the guys were excited.

"Between the hours of one and four in the morning, your body is just telling you to sleep and you go into this zone where you just start thinking about your family and your friends.

"You've got a lot of time to think and it can really get to you.

"This dance gave us something to smile about."

He said the men had discussed safety before the dance, making sure to wear the necessary helmets, cap lamps, glasses and portable oxygen devices.

He also added that long-sleeved shirts were only removed to prevent the Barminco brand being seen.

"If there's a rockfall, a T-shirt is not going to save your life," he said.

In a statement on their Facebook page, Barminco said that safety was a priority.

"Our teams are well aware of our values and we will not make any exception to this," the company said.

"Underground mining is inherently a hazardous environment and requires the application of rigid rules."

According to the West Australian, safety has been an issue at the underground mine before, with three men treated in hospital last year after a sheet of construction metal fell on them.

Since 2010, the mine has been issued with five improvement notices and prohibition notice.

A prohibition notice is issued when there is evidence of imminent danger and leads to a shutdown of operations or equipment.

It is uncertain whether the prohibition notice related to the incident involving the metal sheet.

A spokesperson from Department of Mines and Petroleum said the Harlem Shake dance was not being investigated.

Image: westaustralian.com

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