FIFO suicides at a 'disgraceful' level: union claims

THE number of fly in fly out (FIFO) workers taking their own lives in the Surat Basin has reached a "disgraceful" level, according to Electrical Trades Union South West organiser Dan McGaw.

Last weekend a 42-year-old Townsville man was found dead at the APLNG Reedy Creek camp - the third CSG worker to die in the Surat Basin in three months.

Mr McGaw said the men and women working FIFO jobs in the Surat Basin were facing stressful conditions.

"Although these workers are paid well, they are under high stress, which is not helped under the excessive rosters these workers are forced to work," he said.

"Their communication systems aren't adequate. We're seeing cases where workers can't Skype with their families.

"It can be complete isolation for these guys working three weeks on, one week off."

Since the start of the year, there have been 10 deaths in the sector. Many of them, Mr McGaw said, could be avoided.

"I have been doing this job since the Surat Basin boom, and we're definitely seeing a massive increase this year," he said.

"If we add them up, it would be about 10. That's 10 too many, and the thing is, they're all preventable."

The ETU has been pushing for better working conditions, communication systems and the Mates In Construction program.

"The workers are telling us first hand that their rosters are excessive," Mr McGaw said.

"No amount of money can replace the life events you miss when working three weeks of the month.

"Birthdays, weddings, all the family milestones."

When asked about the recent deaths in the Surat Basin, an Origin spokesman declined to comment.

  • If you are thinking about suicide, or are concerned about someone else's safety, contact Lifeline 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 13 11 14 or visit the website for information and resources, including a tool kit for helping someone at risk of suicide: www.lifeline.org.au.

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