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More than 350 people from across Queensland’s Bowen Basin turned out to a rally over the weekend to protest against the increasing numbers of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers in the mining industry.
The protest, organised by the Moranbah Action Group, is arguing against 100 per cent FIFO workforces being pushed by major mining companies.
The group say they are protesting to protect the way of life in the small communities, including Moranbah, Collinsville, Dystart, Mackay and Blackwater.
They want to secure more permanent housing options for workers and their families and make housing more affordable.
Addressing the crowd at the rally, Moranbah Action Group chairwoman Kelly Vea Vea said small towns across the region are confronting the same issues.
“These people [from surrounding communities] are not just here to support us in marching for Moranbah but to represent their own communities in a time where we need to acknowledge that … we all stand side by side on the common issues that are affecting all of us across the region.
“We are marching proudly to protect the way of life in mining communities,” said Ms Vea Vea.
“Our committee has been doing all it can to follow the correct processes of addressing these issues in Government, but we feel we have reached the point where we need to take to the streets and show mining companies and all levels of government that we are watching, we are taking notice and we are ready to act.”
James Bitcon attended the march and he told Rockhampton’s Daily Mercury he was against mining camps within the town and thinks the mining companies should provide family accommodation for workers.
Some companies believe FIFO work should be an option for employees and only used in conjunction with other work employment types.
Rio Tinto’s Gervase Greene told Australian Mining FIFO is not appropriate for all employees.
“We do not see FIFO in isolation and don’t think people should, it’s part of balanced range of options we offer our workforce.
“It’s an extremely competitive market 4 labour and we have found offering sweet options is much more successful to attract and maintain personnel.
"Historically we would have lost people with changed circumstances but we now retain and attract people.”
Adam Belbin agrees with these comments and told the Mercury that after living in mine camps, he does not believe they are a good thing, especially when you have a family.
“When I first met my wife, we didn’t have kids at the time but living away from home was bad enough then. Not having the option of living in town with your family, I think it ruins relationships and I think it is very hard on people,” he said
In October, about 400 people turned up to a meeting in Moranbah to protest against the 100 per cent FIFO workforce proposed by BMA.
In December, mining giant Clive Palmer announced plans to have 10 per cent of workers at his $8 billion coal development in the Galilee Basin of central-west Queensland sourced from China.
"In Western Australia, in our projects there, we’ve had something like 10 per cent who are Chinese people on site," Palmer said.
"We’ve had 7000 workers, we’ve had about seven or eight hundred Chinese engineers who are directing the work.”
He said it “would probably turn out something like that” at his Queensland site.
Image: The Daily Mercury