Union’s demands to protect miners from COVID-19 pandemic
A MINERS' union has delivered a list of demands it wants mining and labour hire companies to follow to protect mine workers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The CFMEU has written to these companies seeking assurances that all mine workers, including casual labour hire, will have access to paid leave if they are sick or required to self-isolate.
It has also called for access to prompt testing, appropriate transport to home and the hospital if a worker becomes ill, and appropriate quarantine facilities at mining camps.
Griffith University infectious diseases expert Nigel McMillan said mining communities were at a slightly higher risk of virus exposure due to FIFO workers and mining camps.
"The mining industry has got to be prepared for the fact that if they do have visitors that are infected, they're going to disrupt their operations and they'll have to plan for that," Professor McMillan said.
"In mining camps, you've got people living in proximity and sharing cafeterias - that just raises the risk a little bit more."
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said there was a lot of anxiety among mine workers over potential exposure to the virus.
"There is particular anxiety about the prospect of being quarantined in camp and not being able to return home to families," Mr Smyth said.
"More needs to be done to address workers' concerns and protect their safety."
Mr Smyth said the case involving Daunia mine was the only positive diagnosis in the coal industry the CFMEU was aware of so far.
"There is a real prospect for disruption to coal production in Queensland if illness or self-isolation requirements affect significant numbers of workers or those in key positions," he said.
A BMA spokesman said a small number of people who were identified as having close contact with the supplier were in self-isolation as a precaution.
He said although normal operations were continuing at Daunia mine, BMA had taken extra steps, such increased cleaning schedules, work from home policies and advice to workers to stay home if not feeling well.
A Glencore spokesman said it had activated local response plans in accordance with company protocols and ongoing advice from federal and state government health authorities.
"At both global and local levels, Glencore has also engaged specialist external medical expertise to guide our planning and, if needed, response measures," the spokesman said.
An Anglo American spokeswoman said the company had stringent processes in place to help manage the impacts of COVID-19 including travel restrictions and revised work practices.
"We are in regular communication with our workforce and our key contracting partners to ensure our approach is supportive of people's need to self-isolate, and is aligned and comprehensive," she said.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said QRC was in regular contact with its members and the federal and state governments to assess and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19.
"Across mine sites there is an increased vigilance, in accordance with Queensland Health's public advice, with the risk of COVID-19 including enhanced sanitising efforts, activating work from home policies, social distancing in crib rooms and new screening measures," Mr Macfarlane said.