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The AWU is protecting Australian mining jobs and keeping members safe during the COVID-19 outbreak

March 30, 2020

The AWU and the mining industry are working together to put stringent measures in place to keep workers safe and ensure hundreds of thousands of mining jobs remain intact.

We have been working with major employers such as Rio Tinto and BHP to ensure that the sector remains open and continues to offer good, safe jobs to members.

Reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 will ensure the mining industry can continue to contribute to the Australian economy at this critical time. It is vital that all employers and members work together to ensure our industry is as safe as it can possibly be.

The AWU has been working with state and federal governments to ensure workers who travel to work via FIFO arrangements can continue to access mine sites irrespective of where they live. As part of the Western Mine Workers Alliance, we have successfully ensured 2500 FIFO workers can continue to access their worksites in Western Australia. We will keep fighting for this right throughout this crisis.

Rio Tinto Update

The AWU is already in discussions with Rio Tinto about the new procedures for its mine sites.

This week, Rio Tinto advised the AWU that the company is seeking to change rosters for all FIFO employees to reduce the potential exposure to COVID-19 and the impact on its business. The proposed roster changes are intended to allow for isolation where necessary and reduce the number of flights taken by workers.

Summary of proposed changes  

  • Two weeks on two weeks off (to allow for self-isolation)
  • No reduction in hours for most employees with a small percentage doing slightly less.
  • Overall salary largely not impacted.
  • Monthly bonus payments of $1000 for all operational staff.
  • Initial three month trial of processes.
  • Rio Tinto will consider and try to accommodate individual circumstances, such as carers responsibilities during the crisis.
  • Rio will try and work with interstate FIFOs and the Union to ensure their ongoing employment .

Rio Tinto is also advising it is looking to move all non-operational staff back to Perth to work from home.

The AWU will be meeting with Rio Tinto in the next week to discuss the ongoing crisis. In the meantime we will be talking to our members and getting their views. The AWU will be doing everything possible to keep mining members employed without any significant reductions to their pay and conditions.

Other mining companies are also introducing and stepping up COVID-19 prevention policies. BHP has already limited access to mine sites to crucial workers and has also increased flexible rostering. The company is performing temperatures checks before workers travel to sites and has stated this week it intends to conduct an audit to determine if further measures are needed.

The AWU also expects other major mining companies to move in the same direction over the next few days.

Join the AWU today and become part of a powerful union that will put your safety and your job first

In these difficult times it’s absolutely vital that workers have sensible and professional representation. We are on your side.

More than ever we need to keep Australia and Australians working – and that means pulling together to ensure we maintain the most rigorous COVID-19 safety protocol standards possible. This is the only way we can guarantee that our mining sector remains open.

By becoming a member you will ensure all of us work together to keep our mining industry strong and our worksites safe.

There has never been a more important time to join your union.

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