Sexual harassment at OA mines, workers say as leaders demand investigation
Mining workers across Washington state say sexual assault and harassment is rampant in FIFO (fly-in fly-out) camps.
- Miners denounce toxic culture on mining sites
- They say sexual harassment and assault are rife
- WA Liberal Deputy Leader last week called for a parliamentary inquiry into the matter
The state’s number one industry is under scrutiny as politicians and mining giants back calls for a parliamentary inquiry into women’s safety at mine sites.
Deputy Liberal Leader Libby Mettam called for an investigation last week, following several reports of rape and harassment involving mining workers on and off the sites.
“I think there is a great opportunity to look at how we can provide suggestions to make sure our workplaces in our mining industry are as good as they can be,” Ms. Mettam said.
Workers speak out
In light of the media spotlight on the industry, the CBA heard several WA mining workers condemn a toxic culture in mining, both in the camps and in the boardrooms.
Anne * has worked in the industry for six years.
She said it was “disgusting” how common sexual harassment and assault was in the mining camps in WA.
“I see new girls coming to the site… and you’ll have a lot of men, either they’ll vocalize or they’ll indicate some other way… she’s just considered meat.”
Anne said the culture was worse in WA than in other parts of the country.
“I’ve worked on both the east coast and the west coast – the east coast isn’t that bad, the west coast is out of control,” Anne said.
“It’s the worst I’ve ever seen, and it’s only getting worse.”
Mike * echoed Anne’s sentiment.
According to last year’s Respect @ Work report, a landmark national survey of sexual harassment in the workplace, 74 percent of women in mining have experienced harassment in the past five years.
Mike said it was just the tip of the iceberg.
“The lowest of the lowest behaviors happens here… the biggest bullies go up to the top. This kind of toxic male behavior is encouraged – it’s like taking steroids,” he said.
Assault, harassment kept secret
Mike and Anne both said incidents of harassment and assault at the site were continuously mistreated by management.
“They don’t like people showing up and rocking the boat with anything that would be a PR nightmare or a headache, you are seen as a troublemaker,” Anne said.
Anne wanted more transparency from companies when dealing with suspected violators.
“You are excluded from anything or any knowledge about it… I mean, I can understand from a point of view, they’re trying to protect people’s privacy,” she said.
“But that concerns everyone, because… you basically live with these people… and yes, you are worried and you want to know if there is a predator there, and what has been done about it.”
Mike said that fear of being ridiculed or even losing their job prevents women from telling stories of assault or harassment.
“Plus there’s a huge stigma for women too, if they bring up these issues, and it’s a very small industry, and everyone knows each other.”
According to Mike, drinking habits there have only made the rape culture worse.
“How many women have been raped now because of someone else’s drinking problem? And how many is too much?” he said.
Positive response to the request
Ms Mettam, who is chair of the parliamentary community development and justice committee, said she hoped an investigation would uncover and ultimately prevent such situations from happening.
Premier Mark McGowan backed his call for the inquiry, along with mining executives and the CEO of the House of Minerals and Energy (CME).
“I just want to officially state, on behalf of the resource industry in Western Australia, our very strong stand against any form of rape, assault or harassment in the workplace at all times,” said Paul Everingham. from the room.
Ms Mettam said this response was encouraging.
Ms Mettam said that while harassment and sexual assault were not unique to the resource sector, statistics from the Respect @ Work report, as well as recent reports, indicated that an investigation was needed to specifically target the resource sector. ‘mining industry.
“I know the mining industry is doing all it can, but there might be an opportunity for another pair of eyes to capture information and feedback from industry players and the workforce. work, and report back to Parliament on how we can improve, “she said. .
* Names have been changed to protect the identity of the individual