Unions, miners come together over pandemic

AUSTRALIA’S peak mining body and the nation’s key mining unions have joined forces to help keep mines operating while also trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
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Mining body and unions join forces to help keep mines going through the COVID-19 crisis.

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In their joint statement the Minerals Council of Australia, the Australian Workers Union and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union say measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic must be based on the acceptance that the safety and well-being of the Australian community is the highest priority.  

"Within this framework, the safety and well-being of the resources sector workforce is nonnegotiable, despite the myriad practical challenges now and ahead," the statement says.

"Existing models of employment such as fly-in, fly-out and drive-in, drive-out should be maintained, provided the safety and well-being of mine workers and local communities is not compromised."

The MCA, AWU and CFMEU have agreed that a range of COVID-19 protocols will be implemented that provide:

  • Strict measures to minimise the risk of workers being exposed to COVID-19 in mining workplaces;
  • Strict processes for encouraging self-isolation by workers;
  • Comprehensive systems to manage any positive COVID-19 tests for workers at a mine site or who have been at a mine site. These will only involve quarantine at mine sites in exceptional circumstances;
  • Appropriate travel and accommodation conditions for FIFO and DIDO workers; and
  • Education and communication with workers and local communities.

They have also agreed to monitor the adequacy and effectiveness of those measures through regular and ongoing discussions at State Mine Safety Advisory Councils.

The MCA and resources unions also agreed to work together to minimise any long-term job losses in the industry as a result of COVID-19 and noted that employers were meeting medical costs associated with COVID-19 testing for workers.

"The adoption of these policies will ensure that when Australia emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, a strong mining sector and a safe and healthy workforce will ensure Australia's speedy economic recovery is delivered for the benefit of all Australians," their statement said.

"In these tough times, the sector remains focused on operating safely as an essential industry which supports workers, families, local communities and Australia.

"That is why the AWU, CFMEU and MCA are united in their determination to ensure the sector can continue to be a critical part of the Australian economy."

The resources sector employs more than 1 million Australians and is responsible for more than 58% of Australia's export income.


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