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Mining Inquiry Hears More Horrific Stories Of Harassment And Abuse

Mining inquiry hears more horrific stories of harassment and abuse

The Western Australian parliamentary mining inquiry continues to hear horrific stories of harassment and abuse.

Many of the major mining companies have previously told the inquiry they have sacked dozens of workers for sexual misconduct.

The latest is oil and gas giant, Woodside.

Mining inquiry hears more horrific stories

Woodside admitted to the inquiry that it has sacked a dozen workers after 16 substantiated incidents of sexual harassment over the past five years.

Executive vice-president Fiona Hick told the inquiry that six of the 12 sacked workers were Woodside employees, while the other six were contractors.

The inquiry also heard from Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union state secretary Mick Buchan. (pictured)

He argued sexual harassment in the sector is “definitely out there”, but then suggested the fly in fly out industry is no worse than others.

“You do see more of it there (FIFO) or you do hear of it because it is isolated, it comes through.

“But we also hear about it across a range of industries, government departments, military organisations, other big businesses.

“I think it is everywhere and all around us.”

Statistics don’t lie

However, data from the Sex Discrimination Commission paints a very different picture.

According to Commissioner Kate Jenkins, 74 percent of women in the mining industry report experiencing sexual harassment, compared to 34 percent in other industries. 

When asked about actual figures, Buchan took the question on notice. 

Drinking culture

Buchan also confirmed there is a drinking culture in the sector, describing one site as having alcohol consumption that “hit world records”.

Rio Tinto, BHP and Fortescue have all implemented strict daily booze limits as a result of the shocking allegations.


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Sexual favours for promotions

The parliamentary committee also asked Buchan about supervisors demanding sexual favours for promotions.

For example, to get her “shirt” – which means going from a contractor to a permanent worker – one miner said she was asked to perform a sex act by her supervisor.

“We do see or we have heard of incidents that have come through. It may be a worker that’s working remotely is locked in a container for an hour, you know, and it’s seen as a joke,” Buchan replied.

“But that wouldn’t be just singling out women. That would be across the board. That may be a young fella that’s started out in construction.”

“An initiation process?” committee member Mark Folkard asked.

“Yeah, sort of all that stuff,” Buchan replied.


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