While Barminco has so far declined to release an official comment on the affair, which saw the miners axed after posting their shirtless underground “Harlem Shake” dance routine on YouTube, the contractor did offer a policy-based explanation on its Facebook page.
“Our teams are well aware of our values and we will not make any exception to this,” the company said in the post.
“Underground mining is inherently hazardous environment and requires the application of rigid rules and standards to ensure the safety of all our team.”
The statement comes as a Perth law firm takes up the case of fired miner Stephen Dixon, and public debate over the miners’ dismissal begins to amplify.
The West Australian reported that Barminco banned the workers for life. However, the company has not yet confirmed details of the firing and was not available for comment at the time of publication.
Lawyer John Hammond is representing Dixon as the miner files for unfair dismissal with Fairwork Australia. He told MiningNews.net he did not personally know if a ban for life was imposed.
“If that is the case, it has very severe repercussions, but I can’t confirm that he has been banned for life.”
Hammond said in the The Australian that while no one would disagree with Barminco that safety was paramount in mining, safety was considered during the stunt.
“They left their steel-capped boots on, they left their headlamps on and left the self-rescuers on before they engaged in the Harlem Shake,” he said.
“Doing a dance on the spot, jumping up and down gyrating, to me personally, was not a harmful act.”
The growing profile of the case has sparked a heated debate online as bloggers connected to the mining industry weigh in on the incident’s safety and social implications.
“A bit of harmless skylarking can easily result in an injury or death - so there should be a no tolerance policy on skylarking (harmless or not) in an environment like that,” one post on ABC Perth’s Facebook page read.
“Surely there is a range of punishment options available between 'do nothing' and 'sacked',” another countered.