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Fly-in, fly-out ‘no way’

Friday, 26th August, 2011

By Gayle Hogan

 Non-residential mine workers were not the norm locally and it should stay that way, according to a local union boss.

Greg Braes, the Vice President of the metaliferous section of the CFMEU South Western District in Broken Hill, said he believed ‘fly-in, fly-out’ and ‘drive-in, drive-out’ jobs were no good for any mining town

“Residential is the way to go as far as we’re concerned. Most of the jobs here are residential,” Mr Braes said yesterday.

“If it was all going to be fly-in, fly-out - which it’s not - I’d prefer to see the dirt staying in the ground.”

Mr Braes’ comments come after an announcement of a federal inquiry into the impact of fly-in fly-out (FIFO) miners.

The House of Representatives standing committee on regional Australia will investigate how individuals, communities and the mining sector are affected by the FIFO workforce.

A number of country Queensland towns say they are missing out on jobs because of the use of FIFO workers. At the same time they have to pay the social and infrastructure costs of hosting the transients without garnering any of their income.

Mr Braes said the city needed residential miners who pay rent, rates, spend their money at local shops and send their children to local schools.

“I don’t believe Broken Hill is in the same system as what they are. 

“For the town I believe residential based is the best thing.

“The majority I believe are residential... that’s not to say things won’t change in the future.”

Redpath Mining - which has the contract to operate Perilya’s Potosi/Silver Peak mining operation - is advertising for FIFO Electricians, FIFO Fitters and FIFO Jumbo Operators. 

A spokesman for the company said they had tried to fill the positions locally at first.

“We prefer local people. We were unable to fill the positions in the first round.” 

Mr Braes said he understood Redpath’s need to seek FIFO workers at the Potosi site, where development is ramping up with the installation of a decline, given the circumstances.

“They’ve still got to run a business,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Mr Braes said the recent boost in mining activity in the local region had seen a number of the 440 who were laid off in 2008 return to the city.

“Quite a few have come back.

“We’re slowly picking our membership back up.”

CBH Resources recently employed a number of people for the development phase of their Rasp Mine project, and Redpath said they were “inundated” with applications for a number of positions.

Mr Braes said Perilya’s numbers were also picking up and he hoped mining companies would started to offer apprenticeships and entry level positions again.

“The next thing I’d like to see is employing younger people.

“The mines have got to be viable, of course.

“That’s just the mining game - it’s up and down.”

Redpath Australia Pty Limited is also seeking residential-based Shotcrete Sprayers, Loader Operators, Charge Up Crews, Site Administrator, Mining Superintendents and Shift Supervisors for the Potosi/Silver Peak project.  - BDT/AAP


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