Fortescue Metals Group has sacked about 200 workers from its Pilbara sites

By Rachel Dally-Watkins

30 April, 2015

IN its latest cost-saving move, Fortescue Metals Group has sacked around 200 people from its Pilbara mine sites.

According to reports, about 100 workers were flown home from Christmas Creek on Tuesday and on Wednesday, 100 workers at Cloudbreak – including truck drivers who had just flown to site – were told to return home immediately.

Workers told media they were not given any warning before flying to site, claiming the order to return home came as a surprise. Reports stated workers on site were given plastic bags to pack their belongings into, while others were called on their way to the Perth airport and told not to come to site, leaving them without their belongings.

According to the ABC, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union WA secretary Steve McCartney said workers felt “absolutely flattened”.

“They’ve been working for a long period of time for the company,” Mr McCartney said.

“They feel they weren’t treated with any respect at all.

“If they had a real plan then workers wouldn’t be ringing us saying we got tapped on the shoulder at 3am and told we didn’t work there anymore.

“What we’re saying quite clearly is workers and their families need proper consultation so they understand what’s going on inside in the company so they can make future plans themselves.”

Earlier in the month Fortescue announced it would change the eight-day on, six-day off roster to a two-week on, one-week off cycle aimed at bringing to rosters in-line with the Pilbara iron ore industry standard.

Fortescue stated it had communicated with its workforce consistently since raising the issue of possible redundancies when it announced roster changes on 14 April.

The plummeting iron ore price has had some reprieve recently, climbing close to US$60 per tonne; however analysts have suggested that the simultaneous increase in the Australian dollar would negate the significance of the price rise.