Survey finds sexual harassment is commonplace at mining sites
Western Australia’s inquiry into sexual harassment in the state found the mining industry perpetuated a culture that failed to protect female employees, who continued to face sexual harassment and assault at various sites .
Findings from the year-long survey of the mining sector were released yesterday following concerns about a culture of sexism and bullying.
Titled “Enough is Enough”, the report details how sexual harassment was “generally accepted or ignored” and describes the “failure” of minors to recognize what is happening in their workplace.
FIFO workers have long complained of sexual harassment in mining camps, temporary accommodation set up in remote mines to house workers.
Survey chair Libby Mettam said the survey found that women often felt intimidated and fearful and that this would be consistent throughout their time in the workplace, with many presenting “stories of confrontational, shocking and convincing”.
“When we began this investigation, I knew horrible stories would be told. But I was shocked and dismayed far beyond my expectations by the scale and depth of the problem,” she said.
Here are some examples of incidents:
• A woman who had a near miss with a transport truck she was driving was told the site supervisor told her he would drop the safety check if she had sex with him.
• A woman told how she was knocked unconscious in her donga and woke up to find her
jeans and boxer shorts around his ankles.
• Another said that a man had forced his hand on her top several times in front of others
workers and nobody did anything.
• A woman recounted being told sexual jokes and comments made about her by others by a supervisor. She got angry and the supervisor’s response was to force himself on her, kiss her and hug her.
Mettam said there were stories of sex dolls placed in front of women’s dongas and sex toys hanging on their doors.
“Stories of unwanted and unwanted sexual attention, harassment, explicit and obscene texting, and horrific stories of sexual assault,” she said.
“We heard details of unwanted touching, sexual comments, requests for provocative photos and self-care. We have heard of a power play known as “shoveling” where iron ore would be dumped on the cabs of trucks driven by women if they did not comply with sexual demands. »
The report, which contained 24 recommendations, indicated that a wide range of illegal and criminal behavior had been ignored or overlooked by employers.
The committee called for the creation of a forum to document victims’ experiences and explore options for redress, such as a formal apology and compensation.
Other recommendations included an industry-wide registry to prevent perpetrators from being rehired at other sites or companies, and the implementation of moderate drinking standards at all work sites. remote accommodation.
Mettam noted that mining companies have reported incidents where they have taken decisive action, including dismissal for sexual offenses in the workplace. However, individuals have reported incidents where the perpetrators simply changed places of work or were re-employed in the industry with another company.
“We recommended that the government explore options that could work effectively and fairly to prevent perpetrators of habitual sexual harassment from continuing to be re-employed in the mining workplace,” she said.
During the investigation, WA Police said they investigated 23 reports of sexual assaults at mine sites over the past two years. But the report says that while police have the primary role of investigating the criminal aspects of sexual assault at mine sites, the responsibility to ensure a safe workplace – including being free from harassment and assault sex – rests with the mining companies and the safety regulator.
Mining companies that made submissions included BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group, with most acknowledging that sexual harassment is rampant in Western Australian mining camps and promising reforms.
The Minerals Council of Australia welcomed the publication of the report and reinforced its commitment to eliminating sexual harassment in the sector.
MCA Chief Executive Liz Constable said the fundamental value and commitment of the Australian mining industry is the safety, health and psychological well-being of its workforce, where everyone who goes at work go home safe and sound.
“The mining industry has made substantial progress over the past two years in addressing sexual harassment in the industry, with the MCA [email protected] Working group delivering a number of actions,” she said. These included:
- A new safety and health policy to specifically integrate psychological harm and respectful behavior (January 2021)
- Explicit commitment to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace (January 2021)
- Adoption of a national industry code on the elimination of sexual harassment (July 2021)
- A comprehensive toolkit of resources to support the industry (December 2021).
Last month, the MCA welcomed a CEO [email protected] Forum, bringing together more than 40 CEOs and executives from Australia’s mining industry to share progress in tackling sexual harassment in the workplace and ensure that industry commitments to eliminate this abhorrent behavior translate into real and tangible actions.
Constable said the MCA, however, recognizes that the industry has a long way to go to eliminate sexual harassment in its workplaces and will continue to support members in achieving this essential reform and taking other actions, including :
- Incorporate the National Industry Code on the Elimination of Sexual Harassment
- Hold regular discussions led by the CEO
- Develop clear expectations for hiring and promoting candidates who share common values of respectful workplaces
- Develop guidelines on sharing information about incidents in the industry and prevent terminated employees from moving around in the industry
- Offer a series of webinars to support the integration of the national industry code.
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