FIFO workers celebrate Christmas with families at site

MinRes employee Glyn Hirschausen (R) spends Christmas Day 2020 at the Koolyanobbing iron ore mine with his family.

Fortescue Metals Group and Mineral Resources (MinRes) helped their fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workers get in the Christmas spirit last month by flying their families to site for the day.

They were welcomed at Fortescue’s Solomon and Chichester Hub and MinRes’ Mt Marion, Carina, Windarling and Koolyanobbing sites.

Christmas Day visit at the Fortescue sites came after the company’s family days were called off during 2020 due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions.

Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said that family was at the core of the company’s values, and the support families provided to FIFO team members was critical to their health and wellbeing.

“Family days are a highlight for many of our team members and after having to pause the visits for most of 2020 we were delighted to be able to go ahead with the Christmas visits in recognition of the hard work and dedication of our team members who stepped up to ensure we continued operating safely during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gaines said.

Fortescue mechanical maintenance superintendent at the Solomon operation, James Hunt was one of the employees who enjoyed sharing Christmas Day with his family on site.

“Having a supportive family is vital when you are working FIFO, especially during COVID where it was so important to stay in contact daily,” Hunt said.

“As a family, we appreciate the support from Fortescue during this period and it means so much that my family was able to come to Solomon to see where I spend so much time.

“(My daughter) was really excited to see some of the larger-than-life machinery and enjoy dinner and dessert at dad’s work.”

Meanwhile, MinRes launched Australia’s first FIFO Happiness Tour prior to the holiday season.

The company rolled out a series of mental health workshops and pre-emptive well-being strategies over two weeks to thousands of its team members across 15 sites.

The 2020 program was rounded out by its company tradition of flying family members via 100-seater Fokker planes with Alliance Airlines.

Families also toured MinRes’ machinery and enjoyed children activities.

MinRes chief executive – commodities Paul Brown said the company had been sending family members to spend Christmas on its sites for six years now.

“Recognising that the gift of time and presence with loved ones is the greatest reward possible for our teams who work tirelessly to keep our operations running,” Brown said.

“Being able to support our people and reward their dedication and hard work has proven more important than ever this year.”