© Quentin JonesFortescue Metals Group. Pic shows .. Andrew Forrest at his huge Cloudbreak iron ore mine. Trucks and heavy machinery at work at the Cloudbreak mine out in the Pilbara.. . Trucks, Mining, Scraper, Export, Minerals, etc...SMH News/Generics. Pix by Quentin Jones. SPECIAL 000000
Pilbara miner Fortescue Metals Group will slash worker movement to and from its mines by 40 per cent from Monday by making major changes to its rosters.
Workers were told on Friday morning that those working two weeks on and one week off would move to a four on, two off arrangement while workers on four and three days and eight and six days would start working two weeks on, two off.
The roster changes come after growing concern over the impact the virus would have in WA's regions and remote communities.
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Miners have so far been exempt from any major restrictions, including interstate travel, but earlier this week four councils in WA's Kimberley region voted to ban all non-essential travel, with some councillors suggesting that should include FIFO workers.
Fortescue's chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines said Fortescue, together with the broader WA mining industry, currently had the support of governments but in order to maintain those exemptions it needed to take every precaution to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 spread.
"We believe implementing a temporary change to our site operational roster will contribute to the safety of our team, their families and the broader community, as well as help us fulfil our responsibility to provide the Fortescue family with secure employment during this uncertain time," she said.
"We have a strong track record of doing what we say we are going to do.
"The iron ore industry and the Pilbara more broadly is the engine room of WA and Australia's economy and it is our responsibility to make sure we have a healthy, committed workforce that allows us to continue operating during this crisis."
The company said the new rosters would reduce movement on and off Fortescue's sites by approximately 40 per cent and would be in place for an initial period of three months with the possibility to extend to six months.
WAtoday understands rivals BHP and Rio Tinto were also looking at roster changes.