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News headings from LabourStart

Many FIFO’s were paying $2,000 to live in a caravan

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For the past 22 years I have been lucky enough to call WA my home; my adult daughter, I am proud to say, is a born and bred Sandgroper.

During my time here I have watched the cost of living sky-rocket and economic growth soar.

The global demand for our minerals sucked in massive workforces from all over Australia and the world.

For the huge construction and mining businesses to capitalize and prosper visas laws were changed.

International, national and local workers flocked in to earn the big dollars to be made during the mining boom.

They came in search of better opportunities and the promise of better living standards for themselves and their loved ones.

At the same time the construction companies reaped huge dividends.

Meanwhile many workers and their families found themselves living in caravans and paying $2000 per week for the ‘privilege’.

Many were working 14 hour shifts, seven days per week, in extreme remote conditions.

Meanwhile, back in the comfort of airconditioned offices HR personnel were scratching their heads wondering how they could maintain the number of workers required to keep their projects running.

Then the penny dropped – to be able to complete their contracts they would have to cover the escalating housing costs.

And so the concept of the Housing Allowance and Rent Assistance Programs were born.

Wherever possible the unions – including the TWU – argued strongly that the allowances should fully cover accommodation and living costs.

To be brutally honest, without the unions, most workers, would have received sweet FA.

However, in many cases, while we got the extra money, the allowances are generally not included in negotiated enterprise agreements.

And often the allowances haven’t covered the high costs of accommodation in the North West.

However companies are now using the so-called economic downturn as an excuse to reduce the allowances, or scrap them altogether.

Their real agenda is to reduce their costs and maximize their profits and I think that stinks.