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FIFO work loses its attraction

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HC Online | 12 Jul 2016, 10:40 AM Agree 0
They were once the pampered, mobile resources workers who were flown all over the country, but times are changing.
  • Christine Sellwood | 12 Jul 2016, 02:05 PM Agree 0
    This sounds like the companies have MADE people do this. PEOPLE have a choice. If The lifestyle is playing havoc on your, fatigue management, home life, relationships, ability to concentrate at work AND ALL the othe points mentioned, THEN YOU HAVE A CHOUCE TO NOT WORK THERE. It's really simple people, you are accountable for your choices, if you have made the wrong one and FIFO is not for you, put your hand up and go home. SIMPLE.
  • | 12 Jul 2016, 02:45 PM Agree 0
    Good point Christine. People are attracted to these jobs because they value money and posessions over being with their family. Is a few extra bucks worth not seeing your kids grow up?
    • Steven | 13 Jul 2016, 09:09 AM Agree 0
      No, people are forced into these jobs because society places an importance on people and particularly men supporting their family. Would you be happy for the government to keep paying support to people who were offered jobs as FIFO and turned them down for the lifestyle?.

      Ideals are fine and yes seeing your kids grow up is important, but it doesn't pay the bills or put food on the table.

  • Steve | 12 Jul 2016, 05:14 PM Agree 0
    I agree to a point, I have doneeen the fifo, and yes I did it for the money. The money was so that I could provide my family with a better life. I made the sacrifice to do this, to miss out of events like birthday's valentines, and parts of my children's upbringing. but I made this up when I was on my r&r. The only thing that I could not take back was missing the events, but I always made up for it the next time they came around.

    the fido lifestyle it isn't easy and it isn't for everyone. I didn't find the fifo lifestyle that hard. Yeah you work 10-12 hours everyday, this is also dependant on the swing you are on ranging from 8-6, 9-5 to 2-3 months on/1-2 weeks off.

    My positiion in the mining resources sector was to make sure that incidents were avoided. I was a HSE Advisor and have been for the past 17 years. I also saw the effects of the fifo lifestyle on others and did everything in my power to help them in any way.

    We need to keep in mind that just like any other job, position or career there are pros and cons.
  • | 12 Jul 2016, 05:38 PM Agree 0
    Lots of bull, no horns.
  • Steve | 12 Jul 2016, 06:55 PM Agree 0
    Ops, sorry for the typos!, I did it via my phone and didn't review or edit before posting.
  • steven | 13 Jul 2016, 09:04 AM Agree 0

    What you say sounds logical but in reality it is very ignorant and ignores the reality facing families.

    The point is that you HAVE to work these rosters. There is not the lifestyle choice of simply living on the dole. This is where the only work is, there are only so many MacDonald's positions available. Manufacturing has disappeared, service industry jobs are low paid and no security. The only people demanding the majority of traditional working class skills now is the mining industry. Mining towns have been closed by the companies so you are forced to go FIFO.

    Somebody has to earn the money to keep the service people and the accountants and the people who shuffle money instead of generating it employed. If you look at the pay rates, they are not that fantastic either. Forget the 40 hour week. On an 8/6 roster you are working a 48 hour working week, so the equivalent of working Monday to Saturday and having one day off a week on a normal 8 hour day. On the 2/1 roster you are working a 56 hour working week which is equivalent to working every day of the week on a normal 8 hour day.

    One bloke I met in the industry works a 4 week on, 1 week off roster and he comes from rural Victoria. He misses his family but says there is no work there so for the sake of his family he works away. This is the situation I find in the industry, not single people earning large salaries and blowing it but family people and mainly men as noted above who are putting their families first despite hating being away from them. Even on the days off, kids have school, wives have jobs and their routine. You cannot make up for the lost time on the days off.

    I think personally this sacrifice is not recognized. when talking about the gender pay gap between men and women, not enough recognition is made of the men who choose to go to work the long hours to support their families. Woman do so to and not diminishing them, and they earn the same as the men. However society places greater pressure on men to work to support their family and be the breadwinners. Research I have seen suggests that women don't like going to these remote jobs away from family and friends, lifestyle is more important than income. I have also seen this attitude in women, saying that they would never work away and if things got tight, they would get husband to work extra overtime or a second job.

    I am not defending FIFO, I hate it and the time away from my family. Seeing my young boy by Skype every evening crying because he is missing Dad, at least I have Skype. But what choice do I have, we could not survive on the dole and the only other alternative is expatriate work which is months away at a time. The only way this will change is if the companies are forced to reopen the mining towns which wont happen.

    But please don't say it is a choice and denigrate those who are forced to work it . I don't know anyone for whom it is a choice or who would not rather work and see their family.

  • Simon | 13 Jul 2016, 12:10 PM Agree 0
    Well said Steven. Hats off to you and your colleagues who are making big sacrifices to help this country be as prosperous as it is!
  • GoodCopBadCop | 13 Jul 2016, 01:38 PM Agree 0
    I can't believe that I am reading a post written in July 2016 that states " However society places greater pressure on men to work to support their family and be the breadwinners." Considering the various family models that exist in 2016, by far for the large number of "2 income parents" the struggle is to achieve a balance between work and family life would be plenty of evidence to suggest that men and women support the family equally. The notion that society puts press on men to have this responsibility of men and to be the breadwinners is a belief that I thought was left for dead decades ago. If this is still alive and kicking in the minds of men - well here in lies the reason as to why the pay gap doesn't appear to be narrowing.
    To suggest that working FIFO isn't your choice, is a misnomer. You choose to apply to work in the mines or the resources sector for one reason - the potential to earn high amounts of money. This industry pays that way to compensate workers for the difficult working conditions (might be underground, or dusty/dirty, or isolated from people) , the long and demanding hours, the shift work, the hard physical work and the lack of any real career progression. Along side this sits the fact that mines are not close to towns. But the towns that are closest to the mines will attract those who work in the town as well as mine workers and their families. At some point there will not be enough housing for all of the workers that the mine requires. The mining companies have long stopped providing towns with houses for their workers and their families. And houses become scarce and in short supply and that allows the rental prices to skyrocket even though the houses are mostly dumps. Workers pay what they have to so that they can earn the big bucks - but living in town in a house is expensive and eats into what you make. And because a shortage in accommodation requires a solution - the idea of FIFO is born - with mining camps and single rooms is set up as a way to accommodate even more mining workers for the time that they spend working in the mines. FIFO and travelling often long distances to a mine becomes just one more hardship to add the list of what the mining money compensates workers.
    Those who seek this work out - do so because it comes with the promise of earning huge amounts of money. They know about the hardships that this money compensates - but in many cases they haven't lived it. If this wasn't the case - would a person do it without the high amounts of money being paid? I doubt i!. There are many people who are caught in a lifestyle trap - being paid huge money and living a lifestyle that this affords them and can't assimilate back into non-mining work because they receive far less even though they have better working conditions and live with their families every day.
    Those who choose to work FIFO - do so knowing that in accepting the upside of the high amounts of money - must accept all of the downside and difficult working conditions. And you weigh that up. Does the money compensate me enough for me to put up with the 'shitty' parts. And obviously for FIFO workers it does. For those where the harsh conditions outweigh the compensation the choice will be to find work where the working conditions are not as difficult and but realistically the money will be less as it is not compensating harsh working conditions.
    This is not about men working in these roles and being the breadwinners and it's all mens' responsibility. There are many women who work in mines, although because there are fewer females who are qualified in trades or work as labourers in non-mining roles - there are naturally fewer women with this experience who can choose to work in the mining jobs anyway.
    What choice do you have? You have just as much choice as the rest of the population who live in cities to find work. All of these people do not believe that their only other option is the dole. No one is forced to work in the mines with all of its hardships. Just like no one is forced to work in an office. You seek out the role that fits for you. And with it comes accepting the working conditions that each job comes with.
  • Steve Rowe | 14 Jul 2016, 03:26 PM Agree 0
    The shift patterns quoted seem quite generous compared to some. Having seen FIFO up close I can attest to the mental health issues. It's curious that "Safety" is still so centred on the physical risks rather than the mental health risks which in the long run are likely to cause much more damage to both individual and employer alike.
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