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National mining employers and unions unite on joint approach to COVID-19

April 2, 2020

The Australian Workers Union (AWU), the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining & Energy Union (CFMMEU) Mining & Energy Division and the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) represent companies and workers in one of the fundamental sectors of the Australian economy.

The number one commitment of the Australian mining industry is the health and safety of workers and the communities in which they live and work.

The resources sector and its supply chain employs more than 1 million Australians, and is responsible for around 60 per cent of Australia’s export income. Mining also makes a major socioeconomic contribution to Australian communities through partnerships and local services.

No aspect of Australian social life or the economy including the mining industry will remain unaffected by the measures taken to keep the community safe from COVID-19.

Yet mining needs to keep operating because Australia needs the income and economic activity generated by our sector to fund initiatives for the benefit of all Australians.
The AWU, CFMMEU and the MCA are united in their determination to implement strict COVID-19 health and safety protocols to keep people in work and sites operating where it is safe to do so.

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

The AWU, CFMMEU and MCA have agreed that a range of COVID-19 protocols will be implemented dealing with the following matters:

  • 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, which would only involve quarantine at mine sites in exceptional circumstances;
  • travel and accommodation conditions for FIFO and DIDO workers; and
  • education and communication with workers and local communities.

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 are 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.

The AWU, CFMMEU and MCA have agreed to monitor the adequacy and effectiveness of these measures through consultation at the national, state and local level as appropriate. This will involve using the industry-specific expertise that exists in bodies such as the State Mine Safety Advisory Councils, as well as specialist external resources.

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

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