AMSJ » Industry proposes FIFO workers must declare if they create poor environment

Industry proposes FIFO workers must declare if they create poor environment

FIFO workers
File photo of FIFO workers

A resources employer group wants every remote jobseeker to state in writing whether they were ever responsible for substandard work conditions.

Fly-in fly-out (FIFO) recruitment candidates could be forced to make a statutory declaration if they are sexual predators before new employment is offered.

The Minerals Council of Australia and Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (CME) recently sought advice on different legal avenues mining companies can explore to keep ‘sex-pests’ away from the mine site.

“Prior to joining the organisation a potential employee would have to sign a statutory declaration, disclosing that they have not been investigated for sexual harassment,” CME health, safety and people manager Laila Nowell said according to Seven West Media.

“For the statutory declaration we want to ensure that the questions that are included are standardised across the industry and appropriate. We need to ensure that we meet those legal challenges around natural justice.”

CME believes removing potential trouble-makers would help improve safety, mental health and security at mine sites.

“Recruitment and pre-employment screening are other areas where CME and its member companies are undertaking significant work to enhance controls and ensure those working in the … mining and resources sector understand its commitment to providing safe and inclusive workplaces for all employees,” CME acting policy and advocacy director Adrienne LaBombard said in a public statement.

“On the ground there are member company sites where the amenities and configuration of their accommodation facilities have [also] been adjusted with enhanced safety, wellbeing and security in mind.”

LaBombard suggested employers are likely to adopt the extra selection criterion because the sector already has a “zero-tolerance” approach to sexual harassment and assault.

“We have said repeatedly that our aim is to eliminate all forms of unacceptable behaviour from our sector – and that goal remains,” she said.

“It is why CME and its member companies participated fully in the parliamentary inquiry, and why we have committed to acting on all recommendations arising from it that are practical and which will deliver positive outcomes.”

The remarks came after the State Government accepted several recommendations from the 2022 parliamentary inquiry into sexual harassment against women in the FIFO mining industry.

A new code of practice will be developed within the next 12 months to improve mine accommodation security. The State Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety will establish a new “culturally appropriate” specialist group within WorkSafe to handle sexual harassment and assault complaints.

A new 24/7 telephone helpline will be set up to handle industry professional enquiries. A state-funded legal service will also be available for alleged victims.

However, there will be no new public register of sex offenders despite the inquiry committee’s proposal to publicly shame and give recruiters an online portal to check whether jobseekers are blacklisted.

State Mines, Petroleum and Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston urged the industry to act on inquiry recommendations, instead of relying so heavily on government.

“I call on industry to ensure our mining sector is accountable and responsive to community standards,” he said in a public statement.

“We need to work together to build a culture of respect as women have a right to work in safe workplaces that are free from sexual harassment.”

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