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May 23, 2014

FIFO workers camps; Queensland Parliament descends into yet more farce

Image:’ Enslaved’ FIFO worker. Courier Mail 
While not the most emotive issue around, Mining camps and fly in fly out workers tend to be up there in a number of circles.  Towns in mining areas tend to feel that they miss out on substantial trade that might have been had workers resided in the area.
Many workers though like doing it this way as it enables them to hold down well paying jobs out in the sticks in relative comfort without the need to relocate their families, who might be a bit harder to please.
Politicians of all persuasions love to go off about it for whatever reasons they come up with for doing so.  Labor’s Jo-Ann Miller has come up with one of the more extreme examples
... Opposition mines spokeswoman Jo-Ann Miller says the "harrowing stories" she has heard from FIFO workers in the mining communities of Moura, Dysart, Middlemount, Blackwater and Moranbah explain why the state's mining towns are suffering. 
"To say that mining companies are engaging in fly-in, fly-out postcode apartheid is no understatement," she told state parliament on Tuesday night. 
"Workers are being kept in what only can be described as mining concentration camps.”Ms Miller said workers were being told not to mix with locals and had to have written permission before being able to leave the camps. …
The premier, Campbell Newman has decided to grandstand the issue with an insistence that this represented some sort of Nazi slur which offended the Jews and the opposition leader’s Polish ancestors. 
It is not understood why concentration camps specifically relate to Germany, who had them but were not the only ones.  The British had them during the Boer War, and they have become a regular feature of history leading to the Soviet Gulags, the Serbian ones during the Balkans conflict, and are still plentiful in North Korea today.
Perhaps he is doing the old Basil Faulty, “Don’t mention the war,” thing.
The initial statement was rather idiotic; conditions and rules vary depending on the company and location involved.  Generally on locations where I have worked, interaction with the locals is encouraged, and there are few restrictions on matters like alcohol consumption, other than having to pass a breathalyzer test with a low level of tolerance prior to going in to work.
The government is grandstanding on the issue, but at least the time taken up with this nonsense is not wasted.  They could be using it to pass more laws based on economic illiteracy, or restrictions on an increasing number of the few freedoms we have left. 


  1. Jim - Correct. Whether or not workers 'mix with the locals' is entirely dependent on the mine, it's location, nearby settlements/towns, and country with associated risks. Her comments do apply on some mines in PNG, and for very good reasons. But most FIFO work is just that - there's no time to mingle. Not a "concentration camp" but a place to sleep and eat during a defined work period. No doubt mines can such the heart out of a town or bump up real estate prices to the detriment or benefit of locals - but that's another story. PC

  2. You are right there Peter. After a solid twelve hours, the most you feel like is a meal, a bit of a yarn with the mates over a couple of beers, and a good nights sleep prior to breakfast, then back to work.

    About the only time for socialising was 'changeover' night where the idea was to stay up till well into the early hours to set you up for a good sleep during the day in order to acclimatise you for night shift.