The City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder Council will take an aggressive stance against the trend towards FIFO workforces at its next Council meeting, with concerns that the practice is resulting in decreased flow on benefits to the Kalgoorlie-Boulder community.
At the All Purpose Committee meeting earlier this week, Council unanimously decided to get on the front foot to combat FIFO, in particular the tactics of mining companies and their contractors to ignore the benefits of a residential workforce.
As well as opposing FIFO workforces in preference to residential workers, the City also aims to encourage more local procurement and support for local community and sporting groups.
Mayor John Bowler said there were a couple of companies who did a good job in fulfilling their community responsibility to Kalgoorlie-Boulder and went out of their way to encourage residential over FIFO, however he believed that even the better companies could do more.
He said the average cost of FIFO was about $1100 per week per worker and if under half that was offered to a worker to incentivise a residential move here then the company would be better off, Kalgoorlie-Boulder would get another family and the family itself would live together. There are only winners in this scenario.
“I have had enough, and judging from Monday night, so have my Councillors. We have watched quietly as fly-in, fly-out has had so many negative impacts not just on our community, but also on families, and it has to stop,” he said.
“There are some companies doing an alright job, but there are other companies who are a disgrace, only paying lip service to seeking residential workers, and in some cases we have examples of local residents who have been encouraged to move to Perth to become a FIFO worker here in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.”
During Monday night’s discussion it was raised that the City Council, and the Mayor in particular, had always strongly opposed any increase to the gold royalty, and Mr Bowler said it was still Council’s position today but they would like to see that support rewarded.
“I reject the comments from the State Treasurer that we reap what we sow. The lack of expenditure from this current government into the Goldfields, and its destruction of Royalties for Regions on an almost daily basis means I simply do not trust the State to take more money out of the Goldfields by increasing the gold royalty,” Mr Bowler said
“What we are saying to the companies is simple - we supported you when you were campaigning against the gold royalty increase, and you need to support us, especially those who bludge on the good companies who are doing their fair share while others do nothing.”
The Mayor said Council was also very supportive of his efforts to make sure local mining companies – nickel and gold - were aware of the buy local initiatives being run by the City.
“We will continue to encourage more local procurement and increased residential workforces here in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, but when HR and head offices are based in Perth, sadly too many companies simply buy everything from the metro area,” he said.
The City has embarked on the process of engaging a consultant to determine a more accurate figure on the number of residential and FIFO workers in the region, how much the companies spend locally compared to their spend in Perth, and how much they actually contribute to the wider community.
City of Kalgoorlie Boulder CEO John Walker said the study would provide the facts and figures needed to really drive home the negative impact FIFO was having on Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
“Once we have that data, which will encompass not only the economic impact, but also the health, mental health and social wellbeing impact of FIFO on communities and workers, we will be able to develop strategies to combat it,” Mr Walker said.
“Our aim is to put together a well-informed, strategic approach to address the issues relating to FIFO workforces, and make sure that Kalgoorlie-Boulder receives greater benefits from the economic activity that’s happening here.”