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Win for Members: Commute Flights – Rio reverses a decision to Cancel Carnarvon Flights

Earlier this year members contacted us to discuss reliability issues with flights from the regional towns of Geraldton and Carnarvon to Paraburdoo. Members took the initiative to begin a dialogue with their GM to discuss the matter as they did not feel there was much proactive communication nor transparency from management on the issue.

After initial discussions, Management stated that they would investigate the matter and seek to improve the reliability of the flight. A period of time after that, Rio management informed their Carnarvon flyers that they would be canceling the flight altogether and that Geraldton flyers would have to move to FIFO on a Friday, an unsociable day to fly.

Understandably, this increased the concerns rather than alleviated them.

Prior to this stage of the process, the Union was providing support and advice to members but then adopted a more engaged representative stance owing to powers to consult with the company when major change is occurring. This consultation and representative power comes from the Mining Industry Award.

The Union began to ask more questions of management around Rio’s position that it could not secure flights for Carnarvon flyers and raised the matter with the local state MP for Carnarvon, Vince Catania.

The decision to cancel the flight from Carnarvon would have a negative impact on the town's economy and would be in direct contradiction of Rio Tinto’s obligations and public position that they support regional towns in WA.

After the matter was raised at State Parliament by Vince Catania. The Union made contact with the State Mining Minister Hon. Bill Johnstone MP to hold a meeting to discuss the issue.

Since the above, Rio Tinto has confirmed that they have now secured a direct flight from Carnarvon to Paraburdoo and are seeking employment from the town of Carnarvon to boost numbers on the flight. They also confirm that they are offering Geraldton flyers the opportunity to fly from Bolgeeda to Paraburdoo. Clearly, this is good news and a significant win particularly for those members in Carnarvon and the town itself with more job opportunities.

What does the Union do for members? We keep Rio Tinto honest by questioning their decisions and exercising worker’s legal right to consultation. We engage politicians to make sure that the company is acting in a manner that is not only good for members but also for regional towns and the WA economy.

Support the Union that is credible and a relevant force for everyday workers of Rio Tinto. Join here

Pay In-equity & WMWA Survey

One of the key issues we discuss with members on the daily is the issue of pay inequity. As many of you reading this will know, Rio has all of their employees on Common Law Individual contracts, which means each employee can be paid a different rate and that is exactly what is happening in each crew across all departments in the Pilbara.

The first thing Rio will say is that they respect equality including pay equality and pay market rates, it is mentioned on their public page. However, the reality is that it simply is not the case. Rio discourages employees from speaking to each other about their pay as this can lead to disharmony and could lead to workers organising for change.

August into September, we will be surveying our members then the broader workforce on their pay. It will be a confidential survey so please do participate and encourage your coworkers to do the same. The larger amount of information we get the better and more accurate.

Once we get the base data we will analyse it and share it with our members, so that they understand exactly how they rank in their department and their role, with their experience, qualifications, and age et cetera. Which should make for interesting discussions with their leaders at the back end of 2019.

This is a first stage effort to shed light in this dark area. So please do get involved, as this will feed into future actions and as such we are needing high participation with a good base of data.

When the survey is officially released you will receive an email and see the link on other communication channels.

Again, fill it out and share it with a friend, remind any of those who are your friends and want to be involved in the move on this key matter to join up here


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Flawed System Punishing Haul Truck Operators

Genuine measures to reduce risks in the workplace are always welcomed, however, safety mechanisms should not be used as tools to discipline and intimidate workers. The revamped Haul Truck speed ticketing system, unfortunately, does just this, and so much so that workers are fearing losing their jobs to a system proven to be flawed.

One current example is the revamped use of speeding tickets. The ticket system was revamped late in 2018, after the death of a worker at the Paraburdoo mine. As many would be aware the consequences range drastically for ramp, cornering and cresting speed indiscretions.

On the one hand, Rio is increasing truck speeds from 40kmh to 60kmh despite concerns from the workforce and with the other, are now threatening disciplinary action for over speeding based on a flawed system. It is simply confusing; truck drivers are expected to use their speedos as trained to monitor their speed yet the ticketing system uses the modular speed which can be different by 5kmh. A flawed system being used to deliver NTFs, WWs and potentially being Stood Down which could lead to termination does not sound very fair to us.

We have heard concerns from multiple members that the system in place is not accurate, which leaves them concerned that they may face disciplinary action unfairly. If you feel you have been unfairly targeted by the ticketing system please get in touch with a WMWA Organiser asap.

Given these changes to truck speeds, were introduced with little to no consultation with Safety Reps or the greater workforce, we will be looking toward the MSI Act to challenge them. Of course, in the long run we need to add balance back in the workplace, particularly in the areas of safety and unfair disciplinary practices by uniting, organising and standing up to unfair changes such as these.

Sick? Stay Home

It’s that time of the year again where colds and flu are starting to do the rounds.

These highly contagious viruses are easily spread and can wipe out half a crew in a matter of days. Whilst Rio’s pay increases may not be exactly generous their sick leave policy is. From the leave policy - “Employees are entitled to a maximum of three (3) months sick leave in any rolling period of 12 months’ service for illness or injury.” This is your entitlement available for you to use as required.

Don’t feel pressured to go in to work sick, you aren’t doing anyone a favor least of all your workmates. If you are not fit to attend work, contact your leader and inform them, then make an appointment to see your Dr. and get the necessary treatment and certification of proof. If you cannot make it to a Dr. or cannot get an appointment a statutory declaration can be used as proof of illness.

From the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website –

“Medical certificates or statutory declarations are examples of acceptable forms of evidence. While there are no strict rules on what type of evidence needs to be given, the evidence has to convince a reasonable person that the employee was genuinely entitled to the sick or carer’s leave.”

Don’t forget you can be asked to provide evidence after even one day off work.

If you feel you are being harassed for accessing your entitlement to sick leave it is best to get in touch with a WMWA Organiser asap for advice and support, taking the time to make a 5-minute phone call can save a lot of potential headaches down the track.

Finally, from the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website –

“We also don’t consider it reasonable for an employer to contact the employee’s doctor for further information” They wouldn’t, would they?



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WMWA winning for members at the Fair Work Commission

Earlier this year, a member was stood down pending investigation. Due to the conditions in the terms of settlement, signed by the member and Pilbara Iron, The WMWA are unable to identify the member nor provide specific details regarding the matter.

The member had a disciplinary history as there were extensive years of service. The disciplinary records stretched back a number of years dispelling the myth that discipline is wiped off your record after 5 years.

Disputing NTF’s and Written Warnings is something to keep in mind for existing members and workers, particularly in the current environment. If you receive an NTF or Written Warning and don’t feel it is fair you can use the Fair Treatment System with the Union’s support to clear your name.

In short, the member’s matter was not black and white and in support of the member, we made the case for reinstatement. After two months of disputing, the final decision to terminate was confirmed by the GM after that we lodged a case for unfair dismissal at the Fair Work Commission.

At the first attempt to resolve the matter at the Commission, known as a ‘Conciliation Hearing’, we were able to negotiate an outcome that pleased the member. This was clearly appreciated as it was in addition to the entitlements and notice period paid out prior to the hearing.

Without Union support, this member would never have had even considered disputing the matter at the workplace level let alone taking it to the Fair Work Commission. It really does pay to be in the Union and with our growing representation workload we won’t be taking on workers who have pre-existing issues.

You don’t insure your house once it’s burnt down, join the WMWA today.

Workers Standing Up for Safety Should Not Be Stood Down

Late last year, a member refused to work out in Channar pit at Paraburdoo Mine due to reports that speeding trucks where a safety issue in that pit. He exercised his right to, ‘refuse to work’, section 72 of the MSI Act.

Concern regarding haul truck speeds was high as a management decision to increase haul truck speeds from 40km/h to 60km/h accompanied by brief training sessions was objected to by SHRs at that site. The SHRs stated in safety meeting minutes that the increase to haul truck speeds would, ‘result in serious harm to life and truck’. Later that year, a tragedy occurred at Channar pit.

Coming back to the worker who was stood down; the member was investigated but supported by the WMWA. Eventually, the worker was cleared to return to work. The worker reported being intimidated by his Supervisor after refusing to work in what he felt was an unsafe environment.

The investigation deemed that in the future, if the worker is to object to a task he is to be given alternative duties as per the MSI Act Section 73 (below) and they are to involve a SHR and the Supervisor is to discuss the specific safety issues. A record of discussion was issued which is essentially not disciplinary.

73. Employee refusing to work may be given alternative work An employee who refuses to work as mentioned in section 72(1) may be given reasonable alternative work to do until that employee resumes his or her usual work.

Immediately post the settling of the matter, the worker was voted in as a proxy SHR. The worker is continuing to stand up for safety and has been issued multiple records of discussions as he continues to raise safety concerns which are felt Pilbara wide, particularly in relation to Rio’s policy that workers are to work through lightning storms.

There is a protocol to follow when objecting to work on grounds of safety, the objection needs to be valid and evidenced and you will always need to have an SHR involved. Prior to considering this action discuss it with your SHR or the Union. You are protected by legislation, ‘Section 69’, if you refuse to work but there needs to be steps followed in order to address safety concerns thoroughly and in line with the MSI Act to avoid breaches.

Both employee’s and employer’s need to abide fully by the Act and exercise it to its full extent if there is going to be a genuine culture towards minimising injuries and deaths on-site and the WMWA will always support this as will DMIRS.


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Cranes and Transport Disruptions Allowances Win


In 2015, Rio Tinto unilaterally made a change to the working conditions of C&T workers by
effecting their disruptions allowances as well as their nightshift allowances.

Understandably, these changes angered workers particularly given the lack of consultation in the process. It was decided by the C&T workers to initiate a process of collective bargaining.

In mid-late 2016, the bargaining process began. Over time it was evident that Rio Tinto had no real intentions of genuinely bargaining. On legal advice, we sought bargaining assistance from the Fair Work Commission.

The Fair Work Commission required Rio Tinto to provide more details to their reasons for being unwilling to meet the request of their workforce, but the harsh reality is that the current laws around collective bargaining lack the strength required to provide a genuine negotiated outcome for our members. In mid 2018 and after receiving legal advice from the WMWA Unions, WMWA and its members were able to pursue Rio Tinto for a breach of contract, in the WA Industrial Relations Commission.

Winning back of back pay of Disruptions Allowances

Prior to the WAIRC hearing regarding the breach of contract, Rio Tinto conceded that their decision to force changes to the disruptions allowances was essentially ‘wrong’ and needed to be reinstated and that effected employees would receive back pay.

The back pay of disruptions allowances was paid to WMWA members in C&T. We understand from discussions with members that on average back pay of $8,000 was paid with some workers being paid $15k plus.

It is only through the determination of our members and with the support of their Union that a win has come to workers in C&T.

The words of JS Jacques loom large, “when Rio wins the world does too”.

Well Rio certainly had a win in 2018 with a $12.41 Billion profit. Rio’s major investors also had a nice win with a $9.8 Billion dividend payout. These huge profits, of course, coming straight from another huge number, 337 Million tonnes of Iron Ore shipments.

Why was it then that those responsible for producing those 337 Million tonnes didn’t also win? Surely if the world wins when Rio does then it’s Pilbara Iron Ore workforce should also. Instead, once again we have seen pay increases below CPI in most cases and bonuses cut at many sites.

If Rio and JS truly believe that "These strong results reflect the efforts of the team to implement our value-over-volume strategy” it must be time to reward the efforts of that team.

Shareholders may give a company the ability to invest but without the workforce giving the company record profits year after year there would be no shareholders investing!

It’s time Rio’s Iron Ore Workers in the Pilbara were given their fair share of the profit they create. Funnily enough, being told you are “lucky” you have a job doesn’t pay the bills.

14 February 2019

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A WMWA Welcome to 2019

We hope everyone had a great New Year and holiday period, and that you are feeling well rested and ready to go for another big year in 2019. This year is shaping up to be the biggest yet for the WMWA as Rio Tinto workers from across the Pilbara continue to get on board for advice, support and representation and to be part of bigger change and a fairer workplace.

This year we will be again focusing our efforts on visiting as many sites as possible to talk with members and potential members, if you would like WMWA Organisers to be at your site on a particular day get in touch. If you do see us at your site make sure you come over and say hello.

We will also be looking in depth at some of the key issues including, performance reviews and pay increases, the lightning policy and its review, opportunistic terminations and the spread of automation.

Lastly don’t forget it is only WMWA members who have access to the Unions assistance and services, if your workmates are not in the Union, joining is easy and can be done right here…Join The WMWA

Fairer Alcohol and Drug Testing

Everyone understands the importance of keeping the workplace free from alcohol and drugs, we are all aware that workers on Rio sites are subject to AoD testing both randomly and for cause. These tests must be carried out as per Australian standards and to Rio’s own policy and procedure.

Over Christmas and New Year’s Rio Tinto saw fit to conduct blanket testing of their workers.

Subsequently the Union was contacted by a couple of member’s that blew numbers, regrettably. In the past, employee’s that tested ‘non-negative’, for alcohol, on their first offence, would have been given a written warning and allowed to return to the workplace. At present, Rio Tinto are moving to terminate workers for blowing numbers.

A couple of key tips for workers when they are blanket tested:

1. Self- testing; All workers are afforded the opportunity to self-test. The Rio Tinto AoD Policy, 6.4 states that all workers are afforded this opportunity. Clearly, it is ideal to do this at camp but if you are blanket tested on a bus, we suggest informing the tester that you would like to exercise this right. If they are abiding by the policy, they must take you to a self-tester and you can then test yourself and if you blow numbers, inform your Supervisor that you will not be coming into work. The Union will support this action as the policy wording does not stipulate when the self-testing must occur.

2. Dispute the reading; Technology is not always accurate. You are able to dispute the readings at the time when you are handed a form. This dispute may lead us to save a job. Alcohol may come up in a system for all sorts of reasons and failure of testing units can happen.

The AoD policy, states that the employment history of a worker as well as the circumstances of the breach will determine the discipline. The Policy itself does not state a ‘one strike and you’re out’ rule, so it is always worth disputing and fighting a termination on reasonable grounds, if you find yourself in this situation.

Clearly, avoid the situation at all costs but if you do find yourself in the position call the Union. The Union WILL NOT take on members with pre-existing AoD issues, so join today.

Is it really always, ‘Operator Error’?

Too often the WMWA are representing members that are stood down pending investigation into alleged breaches of Rio Tinto’s Safety Policies.

On many occasions, we find that the company is laying the blame of the incident on the operator without conducting an investigation in a balanced manner that takes into account the potential failure of the company to meet their obligations to provide a safe work area, adequately train workers and have reliable systems in place to reduce hazards, to name only a few of the obligations of the employer, as per the MSI Act.

Late last year there was a serious incident that occurred at B4 in which a Loader tipped. In this incident after an initial investigation process the company was considering the termination of this employee. The WMWA working with the member explored the circumstances of the incident including going back to the way this operator was trained, the lack of demarcation, the fact that he was directed to dig top soil at night, the very dusty conditions, the lack of supervision for the operator.

Despite the above, the company was considering termination stating simply that the operator failed to ‘stop the job’ and exercise their own duty of care.

We are aware that stopping the job is not always something that an operator feels comfortable to do, particularly with the pressure that is placed on them to follow directions, which is not ‘perceived’, as the company so often alludes.

Fortunately, the company does afford the employee an opportunity to the ‘right of reply’, in what is called a ‘show cause’ period. In part this is to prevent fighting ‘unfair dismissal’, cases at the Commission.

We supported the member in this process of ‘show cause’ and presented the mitigating circumstances which eventually led to saving the member’s job. The member had recently purchased a home and has a young family, needless to say, he was wrapped with the outcome and is currently back at work.

Join the Union today. The climate at Rio Tinto is quite volatile for workers and the Union having been around an established for the past five plus years and will not be representing people who join with pre-existing issues.

7 December 2018

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Salary Review Advice

Salary review time is here again and this year we are calling on Rio Tinto to put its hand in its deep, deep pocket and pull out a fair pay increase for the workers that keep delivering record production and profits. Those profits have totalled $17 Billion in the past two years and this year is on track for another $11 Billion, during this time however pay increases on average have been well below CPI.

The WMWA is able to offer members advice on how to get the most out of your salary review, to give yourself the best chance of a pay increase contact an Organiser to discuss.

A Matter of Fairness

Management Plans (MPs) are designed to address ongoing concerns with a worker’s performance or behaviour, they are usually put in place after other attempts to address the issue or issues have been unsuccessful. Plans must be clear in what they set out to address and achieve, and must have clear guidelines of the expectations and improvements required, and start/finish dates.

Most of all though, Management Plans must be fair.

A member at West Angela’s was recently issued with Plan based on areas of performance that management deemed to be not up to standard, the Plan contained five issues and gave examples of behaviour management said needed to be addressed. Of the five issues, three were issues that had not been raised with the member other than an informal chat with their supervisor.

After discussions with a WMWA organiser it was decided that the member would lodge a Fair Treatment application to contest the Plan based on the fairness of its contents. The Fair Treatment was lodged and before the formal process began discussions were held between the member and management and MP was altered with three of the five issues being removed.

WMWA members get expert advice on things that matter to them

Standing up for Safety

Mining is high risk work. Despite Rio Tinto’s verbal commitment to safety we often get reports from members that production is placed before safety at Rio Tinto work sites. This is more than a shame as it can cost lives and limbs.

Recently, a WMWA member stood up for safety and was supported by over 50% of his crew on his action. He filled out a Hazard ID for failed fire suppressions on machinery. Initially the hazard ID was ignored and after building support and persistently bringing it to the attention of his leaders all machinery was stood down and checked and machinery which did failed fire suppression systems were repaired.

Whilst this shut production down for a morning, it meant that workers got to go home safely

At another Rio site a member declined working in a pit given his concern for safety. There were speed beacon reports showing that operators were driving too fast. He was not the only worker who had concerns. His supervisor informed them that if the workers didn’t get back to work that they would be stood down. Some workers backed down but our member did not. He was stood down.

The stand down was carefully worded (no termination would result) but we feel and DMIRS (formerly DMP) would support that the appropriate action would have been to give him alternative duties until the safety concern was investigated. We are supporting and advising the member to ensure his workplace is safe .

Safety is union business and changing the culture of safety at Rio Tinto will not happen overnight. We are backing our members all the way for standing up to Rio Tinto because going home safe to your family is too important.

Movember News

Big congratulations to unionist, activist and all around good guy Nigel Gould from Yandicoogina. He and others at Yandicoogina mine site have raised thousands of dollars and grown monster mo’s to raise awareness for men’s mental health.

Men’s mental health particularly in mining is a challenge but the more we are able to raise awareness and overcome the stigma that having anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions is taboo and instead encourage men to talk to each other and support each other through the hard times the better.

Nigel remarks that their ‘bogan’ bingo and movember night was a massive hit, ‘The boys told their stories and the whole room listened and it was just brilliant and inspiring to hear people speak openly’. These guys and all other members who participated are making a difference on the stigma around men’s mental health. Nice one.

Rio Tinto talk about a commitment to mental health, find out more below. We should be holding them to account on their commitments every chance we get.


22 October 2018

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Workplace injuries can be confusing and distressing to deal with. It can be difficult to know what to do and who to speak with especially when you may be pulled and pushed in a direction wanted by the company.

If you are a WMWA member the answer is simple, get in touch with an Organiser as soon as practical after an injury has occurred. Seeking advice in the early stages of an injury can save a lot of hassle later on especially in workers compensation matters.

A benefit of being a member of the Union is access to expert advice and referral to independent injury management specialists FRESHSTART who have helped dozens of WMWA members get back to work safely after injury. Don’t be pressured into being rushed back to work to avoid an LTI, workers injuries are all too often made worse by not receiving the rehabilitation they require.

From FRESHSTART’S website –

We believe that to be successful with rehabilitation we need to adopt a holistic approach to recovery, in doing so we rely on the expertise of our team, made up of Psychologists, Exercise Physiologists, Occupational Therapists, a Registered Nurse, a Physiotherapist and a Social Worker. All of our staff are experienced in rehabilitation and the workers compensation system.

Our team understands that rehabilitation needs to be caring and supporting injured patients, not pressuring return to work outcomes as more important than the symptoms and treatment. We employ good people, who care about clients and involve them in all processes of rehabilitation.

There are 3 parts to a rehabilitation case, these are:

  1. Treatment
    2. Return to work rehabilitation
      3. Understanding your rights and responsibilities

4 August 2018

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Automation Safety Concerns

Recent incidents involving automated equipment and manned vehicles have again raised safety concerns of the automated system and in particular, the cumbersome front runner system. Having automated vehicles sharing the same roads as manned vehicles is a disaster waiting to happen and is an issue that needs immediate attention before a tragedy occurs.

Can you believe automated haul trucks don’t have working indicators when in auto mode? We couldn’t when we asked the question why in 2014, four years later and the same problem still exists. We are currently compiling a file of automated equipment incidents and plan to liaise with the relevant regulatory bodies to ensure safety standards are being adhered to at automated sites. If you have any information which you feel may be useful please contact WMWA Organiser Andrew on 0417006100 or email [email protected]

Overpayment Issues Continue

Following on from an article we ran a few months ago, there continues to be an alarming number of overpayment issues being brought forth by members to the Union. These alleged overpayments have ranged from a few hundred dollars through to several thousand and in some cases more. In all cases a letter, email or even a phone call has been received stating that an overpayment has occurred with no description of what this overpayment relates to or when it occurred. The correspondence then goes on to state that a “recovery of overpayment authority form” must be completed and returned within 14 days. WMWA advice to members in this situation is simple, if Rio Tinto is claiming an overpayment has occurred get in touch with an Organiser asap. Workers have rights in overpayment situations including a clear breakdown of how the overpayment happened and when. Taking the time to call can save you a lot of hassle and potentially a lot of money, another reason why it pays to be in the Union!

Opportunistic Terminations

There has been a spike in the amount of ‘opportunistic’ terminations of workers across the Pilbara. At present Rio Tinto will attempt to terminate workers for what in the past had been a minor incident with at most a Note to File recorded.

In a recent case, a member was being terminated for ‘allegedly’ running over a windrow. In this case, the member was working for Rio Tinto at this particular mine for only 12 months and had no disciplinary history. At the ‘show cause’ stage (show cause is generally 24 hours to state your case to overturn a termination) we managed to state that termination was harsh, unjust and unreasonable in large part due to the minor incident and due to the clean record.

Without the assistance of the Union this worker would have been terminated and had to go through the process of seeking employment whilst moving out of the residential mining town with his young family all for ‘allegedly’ running over a windrow.

Rio Tinto is increasing the discipline on workers by terminations, written warnings and taking away or halving of bonuses. Many members believe the progress of AHS and increasing labour hire are factors. The $20 billion cost saving by 2020 is also a factor, as it is much cheaper to terminate when the opportunity arises than doing the right thing and making someone redundant when the need arises.

The WMWA will not assist new members with pre - existing issues. It is simply not fair on our existing members to accept these often complex and time consuming cases.

3 July 2018

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Automation is an issue of great concern for Rio Tinto workers in the Pilbara and workers around the globe. Automation will see increasing profits at the same time companies get tax breaks for their investment in equipment that will put thousands of workers out of a Job.

Rio are leaders in mining automation and intend to have a totally autonomous Pilbara haulage fleet by 2020. Rio’s automation roll out is occurring at most of their Pilbara sites. West Angelas, Marandoo, B2 and B4 are all accelerating their automation programs. We are being informed that Rio will also automate part of the Paraburdoo mine in 2020 when the new Western Ranges is opened.

The WMWA priority is protecting our member’s livelihoods and their well-being.

What is the WMWA doing?

WMWA has raised members concerns about automation directly with Rio senior management and have obtained public undertakings that they will redeploy, re-train and up skill impacted workers.

• We are working with local workplace delegates to make sure Rio honours it commitments to redeploy, upskill and train all impacted WMWA members.

• Lobbying politicians to ensure that businesses who retrain and redeploy workers displaced by automation are not commercially disadvantaged against the businesses who won’t upskill, retrain and redeploy their impacted workers.

• Making detailed submissions to “the Future of Workers” Senate Inquiry into in the advent of technological change.

• WMWA Unions are part of Vocational Education & Training reform and cross sector automation committee. Your Union is making sure that industry and the government properly prepares workers for the areas in which jobs will be needed going forward;

There are many other things your Union is doing around automation, for more information speak to your local WMWA Organiser.

What I can do to help?

Support our campaign to ensure that Rio workers get the retraining and redeployment they deserve by joining the WMWA - go to our website

Encourage your workmates to support the campaign. Talk to your local organiser about what you can do at your workplace to ensure workers are looked after.


20 March 2018

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Incident Investigation and Fairness

Procedural fairness, it’s a phrase many of us have heard before but may not know the meaning of. For procedural fairness to occur, it is required that a fair and proper procedure be used when assessing the facts thus allowing all to make informed decisions. Workers involved in incidents must be given an opportunity to respond or to have their version of events taken into account.

Recently a WMWA member at West Angelas was issued with a File Note after being subject to allegations made by a co-worker.

The investigation process that followed did not offer our member the opportunity to respond and only took one side of the story as fact. The investigation also did not involve HR or a follow a formal process.

With the assistance of the WMWA our member contested the File Note using the Fair Treatment system, based on the lack of procedural fairness in the investigation. When the issue was reviewed, it was found that procedural fairness had not occurred and the File Note was removed.

If aren’t sure about the fairness of a situation at work get in touch with an Organiser.

Alcohol and Drugs

The WMWA supports safe workplaces. Alcohol and Drug (AoD) testing is now a long-established practice at Rio Tinto and more employers are taking it on across Australian workplaces. WMWA advises members to not go to work if they are under the influence of Alcohol or Drugs.

From time to time, workers do ‘blow numbers’ on various substances. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to inform the WMWA immediately. Early advice can prove critical in managing what can be difficult circumstances for our members. Members should seek a second opinion by doing another test shortly after they have informed you of a failed AoD.

Rio Tinto may exercise their right to terminate an employee who fails an AoD, but not in every single case does this happen. Individual circumstances may have some bearing out the outcome i.e. your personal circumstances, disciplinary history, age and length of service. 

On a related topic that is why it is important to appeal NTFs etc if you feel you have been issued with this unfairly.

When Rio Tinto moves toward a termination they will often require an employee to ‘show cause’, typically a 24-hour period to plead their case, verbally and in writing as to why they should not be terminated. WMWA members are entitled to supported from their union when dealing with these situations. It is often the case that the earlier WMWA is involved, the better the outcome.

If the termination is resulting from an AoD breach, you may feel you should not be terminated because for example the Aus/NZ standards were not followed, the level of the substance in your blood did not reach the standard necessary for termination, perhaps your own personal and financial circumstances such as a divorce or death in the family have had a bearing on your current situation or simply you swear black and blue you did not drink or take any drugs and there must have been a failure in the process in some way shape or form. All these factors are referred to as ‘mitigating circumstances’. If Rio Tinto decide to go ahead with Termination you are afforded another level of appeal through the companies own Fair Treatment policy.

The Fair Treatment policy affords you 7 days to submit a Fair Treatment application from the date of your initial termination. This guarantees you a meeting with the GM of the site in which you are able to appeal the decision. Employees continue to be paid while the Fair Treatment Policy is operating.

At this point in time you may want to negotiate an alternate outcome or be determined to retain your position. Its about knowing your options and having the support from experts in dealing with these difficult circumstances.  it is important to note that the WMWA does not take up 100% of AoD cases, good outcomes are hard won. Deliberate, careless and systematic AoD terminations RARELY even get to hearing by the Fair Work Commission, and the WMWA does not support unsafe workplaces. The WMWA closely looks at all contributing factors and proceeds on a case by case basis. Stay Strong and Stay Safe.


12 December 2017

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We’re excited to announce that we’ve had a big win against Rio – one of our mechanics has won an unfair dismissal case! It was announced last week that Mike Ballam, a mechanic who was dismissed in December 2016, would be reinstated and compensated for lost remuneration between the date of his dismissal and his reinstatement.

Mike was dismissed following an isolation breach. The nature of this breach would typically not have triggered a dismissal, and breaches of a similar nature had not resulted in a loss of employment. The judge ruled that the dismissal was “harsh, unjust and unreasonable”. In other words, Mike should have kept his job.

WMWA has been fighting for the unfair dismissal claim for nearly 12 months, and it’s great to see this case result in a win. Mike says "I would not have had the win, let alone the much-needed backing and support if I didn’t have the Union.”

What can you do if you are ever in a similar situation? Mike has the following advice:

“You need to inform your union rep as soon as an issue has occurred. You need to document everything – take photos where you can. Remember, your primary concern is to look after your mental health – call someone and talk. If a friend or colleague is going through a similar experience, reach out and talk to them.”

Well done Mike!

To read the full decision click on this link.


26 October 2017

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Workplace accident and injury 

A benefit of WMWA membership which we hope our members don’t have to access often if at all, is expert advice around workers compensation matters.

The world of workers comp can be a murky one at the best of times and dealing with employers, their insurance companies and medical specialists can become overwhelming very quickly.
Over the past 12 months some great outcomes have been achieved for WMWA members with all claims being processed successfully resulting in, injured workers receiving workers compensation payments to assist them with their rehabilitation and safe return to the workplace.
Where return to work has not been possible WMWA members have received lump sum payouts totalling over $200,000 to compensate for the injury they have received.

If you are injured at work you should contact an Organiser as soon as possible to discuss, seeking advice in the initial stages can save a lot of heartache later on.


Keeping your union in the loop 

If you have been involved in an incident or issue in the workplace get in touch with an Organiser at the earliest point possible. The earlier we are aware of an incident, issue or potential issue the better placed we are to deal with it.
Recently there have been occasions where members have followed the companies’ advice believing they would be looked after for doing so, this has not been the case! Members pay their Union fees to have access to expert advice, support and representation as required, it is not an inconvenience to take your call or return an email. Getting in touch early and keeping us updated along the way means we are informed and prepared to give our members the best assistance possible.
Remember we always have your best interests at heart, others may not!


20 September 2017

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Emergency Services Under Resourced

In July, an emergency alarm was raised at the Tom Price mine site. The alarm itself sounded for longer than needed despite the initial danger being resolved. Our members raised this matter to us a short time after the incident occurred.

We made some enquiries and discovered that the Emergency Medical Officer that was contracted to respond to emergencies that day in TP did not have the experience nor the qualifications to be responding to an emergency.

Fortunately, this was not a potentially fatal incident. The reason the alarm was not turned off was due to the EMO contractor not being trained and shown how to turn off the alarm. This is a symptom of a cause, the under resourcing of this critical part of the business can result in the failure to respond adequately to an emergency.

In a related matter, at West Ang a member was recently AoD tested and pointed out that the person performing the AoD was a plant operator filling in for an EMO who was on leave. The person who filled in did not follow the procedure for AoD testing as set out in the Aus/NZ standards which may have resulted in a compromised specimen. Obviously the under resourcing of EMOs led to West Ang using a plant operator in the critical role of AoD testing.

Coming back to the TP emergency matter, a spokesperson for Rio has informed us that they were disappointed in the contracting company that provided the contractor and have discontinued that relationship.

This issue is still on our radar and we asked members to provide us with a list of issues they have experienced regarding the change in Emergency Services and the evident failure to meet its critical duties in specific situations. If you have any relevant examples to share contact the Union and work with us to ensure that Rio meets its obligations in reducing hazards and responding to life threatening incidents.



A member contacted the Union to ask for our advice on the running of safety meetings. In his team, they were running safety meetings once every three swings and the meetings were also being supervised by Supervisors. The member did say that they successfully negotiated to have supervisors leave for a portion of the meeting which proved to be very beneficial for open discussion. We provided the member who also happened to be the Safety Rep for his team the legislation that states that Rio is obliged to ‘consult’ and ‘cooperate’ with suggestions on running of safety meetings within reason. If they were not then they were effectively breaching legislation.

A few days after the information was provided, the member reported that he had successfully negotiated to have safety meetings run every second swing. This is a perfect example showing how an empowered worker was able to effect change and in so doing keep his fellow workers safe. We need to achieve these small wins across the board to win big change across the Pilbara for WMWA members. For more information on empowering legislation in the workplace visit or get in touch with a WMWA organiser.


1 August 2017

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In late May, a Truck at Paraburdoo lost propulsion and rolled back onto a windrow. Members expressed their concerns to the WMWA on an apparent inadequate braking system and what the members consider was an unsatisfactory explanation on the issue, from management. Concerned members require greater certainty on the safe operation of the truck, vehicle maintenance systems and how the incident was managed overall. 

Through the use of the relevant legislation, the Union requested documentation and evidence and conducted interviews investigating the incident, closely. The Union was provided evidence that the brakes were not lost and did investigate further to determine if the incident should have been reported as per the Mines and Safety Act. After speaking with the DMP it was determined not to be a reportable incident. The presence of the Union on site to investigate these matters does establish a firm understanding amongst the workplace that Rio will be held to account at every opportunity. 

If you come across a situation where you feel unsafe get in touch with the Union, who are here to help.


Most of us are fully aware that Rio has moved to Workpac as the sole supplier for casual and temporary labour. Members from Australian unions have many issues with this type of employment when it is being used to replace full time positions, none of these are ‘easy’ fixes. It reinforces the fact that the workers on the whole need to get collectively organised to overcome the cutting of wages and conditions and insecure employment.

WMWA members employed by Workpac are telling us that they have experienced a significant drop in their employer contributions to their personal superannuation account. It is appears that Workpac is relying on the shortcomings in the superannuation legislation to minimise the contributions for their workers to just 38 hours a week, regardless of your compulsory total rostered hours.  The WMWA encourages all contractors to join the Union.  Only through the strength of numbers can we effectively challenge the employer and make improvements to the terms and conditions of employment.


Safety we hear comes before production. The reality, is that this is not always the case. Members have raised concerns at various sites that their safety meetings are not run with ample time, specifically meetings are being held on a fly out day before a flight, meaning that people are generally in a rush to get home. Members have also reported that safety meetings are run by supervisors themselves. In those cases, workers do not feel completely free to raise safety matters for fear of being branded the ‘trouble maker’.

Rio’s own policy and the Mines and Safety Legislation stipulate that workers should be able to freely raise safety concerns and that safety meetings are to be run in a manner that will lead to concerns being raised, addressed and eventually resolved so that hazards are reduced and injuries are prevented which is not only a clear benefit to the worker’s personal health, earning capacity and quality of life but a huge benefit to Rio through productivity and reduction in costs.

If you have a safety meeting that you feel is not running above board, get in touch with your Union and we will work together to ensure the safety meetings are held in a way where your safety concerns get heard.

For any questions, comments or to join:

Andrew Smith

Pilbara Alliance Organiser

Mob: 0417 006 100 Email: [email protected]


Jeff Carig

Pilbara Alliance Organiser

Mob: 0417 667 282 Email: [email protected]



14 June 2017

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 In late May the National and State leadership groups of the Unions making up the WMWA (AWU & CFMEU M&E) visited the Pilbara. Well-attended meetings were held in both Tom Price and Paraburdoo.

Members had a chance to ask questions and chat with the leadership group who reconfirmed their commitment to the WMWA.

If any members who were unable to attend these meetings would like to learn more, please get in touch with your Organiser. 


If you are working a shift of 12 hours or more, breaks are essential to managing fatigue. Last year a WMWA member at Brockman 4 reported that workers were having breaks cut.

The union was able to step in, and now workers are receiving their full 60 minute break.  

Unfortunately there was no avenue to pursue the matter as an underpayment.

Rio Tinto declined the WMWA Member suggestion that the company should calculate a dollar amount for time overworked at Brockman 4 (for the past 6 years) and donate the equivalent to the Flying Doctor Service.

Nevertheless, this is a great win for WMWA members. 


A member has asked that we share his story, about getting made redundant by Rio while he was taking leave.

A WMWA was overseas on leave when he heard from friends that Rio was making his team redundant, because they wanted to contract out work.

The member contacted HR for confirmation and was told he was being made redundant, and he could not come back on site to collect his tools and trad certificates.  

He was assured that his effects would be sent to him, but he didn’t receive them for an entire month. This meant that the member couldn’t start working and earning money.

Unfortunately, a legal defence against incompetence was not an option. WMWA did represent the issues to management.

Eventually the member received all his tools and needed certificates, but not without loss of income and reputation.


A Union is only as strong as its members and engaged, active members make for a strong Union! Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome. 

Due to the vast distances between sites in the Pilbara it is through our members we learn of issues and leads to recruit new members.

Organisers are always happy to have a chat, so pick up the phone and give us a call, the information you have could make a big difference!


28 April 2017

Members are often stood down during an investigation of incidents or accidents. This is Rio’s process when a serious or potentially serious incident occurs in the workplace.   It must be recognised this may cause the stood down worker a lot of stress and anxiety.
When or if you have an incident that could be investigated, speak to your Union as early as possible and seek advice, support and representation.
Working At Height is any task where there is a potential to cause harm as a result of people falling from one level to another. The work must be risk assessed and working with heights systems used appropriately.  If there is potential to fall more than 1.8 metres or if working within 2 metres of an Open Edge, Working At Height systems (e.g. fall prevention or fall arrest) must be used.

Redundancies and roster changes continue to occur across most sites as Rio’s “restructure” rolls on.
Whilst we aren’t seeing the sweeping redundancies of 2-3 years ago they are still occurring as departments are cut further and further placing increased pressure on those left to do the job.

WMWA members facing redundancy have the full support and assistance of the Union as we work to secure redeployment for those wishing to continue working with Rio, or make sure redundancy payments are correct for those leaving.

It really doesn’t cost to be in the Union…it pays.
As the old saying goes knowledge is power, and thankfully with the internet schooling yourself on topics such as workplace Health and Safety and Legislation has never been easier!
The Department of Mines (DMP) has a Haul Truck load of resources on its website which can be found at the link below. The DMP can be contacted by anyone at anytime, all calls are confidential and callers can remain anonymous if they wish. All Rio Tinto Iron Ore sites are located in the DMP’s North Inspectorate.

DMP Website             DMP Contacts
Bargaining discussions continue with Rio for the Cranes and Transport Operators Enterprise Agreement.
Most recently both parties met at the Fair Work Commission in Perth in an attempt to keep the process moving forward.
For details of this meeting and all previous meetings click on the link below.

Cranes Ops Bargaining

13 March 2017

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Isolation procedures are a critical safety measure designed to protect workers from harm when working on or around equipment and plant. 

There have been concerning reports from multiple sites lately that despite the known risks involved workers are still being asked to take shortcuts when it comes to isolating equipment. It seems that most of these incidents are occurring on night shifts and weekends when there is less management around on site.

Given the tragic events that occurred at Paraburdoo last year it is worrying to say the least that workers are still being asked to take shortcuts when it comes to safety.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to safety, if it’s not safe don’t do it!

If you are asked to undertake an unsafe task let that person know you are not comfortable doing it that way, don’t put yourself or others at risk.

If you have concerns about safety on your site contact a WMWA Organiser to discuss.



The National Executive of the WMWA (AWU & CFMEU) will be visiting the Pilbara to meet with members and supporters in the not too distant future.

The visit will include the towns of Tom Price and Paraburdoo where members will have the opportunity to discuss the future plans of the WMWA and any other questions they may have.

Correspondence outlining meeting dates and times will be sent out shortly to all members.



The ‘In Vehicle Management System’ IVMS that Rio Tinto use is a product provided by a mob called ‘Intellifleet’. Apparently when the system was first introduced it was said that it would be used for ‘real time’ management, that is if you are speeding or aren’t wearing a seat belt an alarm goes off and you think about what you’ve done and adjust.

However, an IVMS Update & Clarification document stated that along with ‘real time’ management, breaches of road rules will result in investigations and may lead to termination. 

Alliance members have been represented in cases where they have been investigated unjustly. In short, the IVMS is imperfect. In some cases workers are being investigated for breaches but have not even been in the vehicle!

It is a bit of a no brainer. It is not fair to investigate people for breaches using an imperfect system. In the current Rio working environment any investigation on record is a serious matter. One or two more investigations and you can easily be facing termination. 

If it is not a ‘fair go’, what can we do about it?

If you or someone you know is or has been investigated for a breach of road rules due to IVMS and, it appears to be a system fault, get the worker to contact Alliance Organisers. We are building a log of these cases to push back on unfair treatment of workers.


Why join the Alliance?

In short, we are hell of a lot cheaper than industrial lawyers and have access to years of industrial experience. If you have a workplace issue and need advice, we are a call away. $15 a week is not much, and after tax even less. Industrial Lawyers start from $500 an hour! It pays to be in the Union!


3 February 2017

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Western Turner Water Woes 

Frustratingly workers at Western Turner found themselves once again without adequate supplies of drinking water over the X-Mas and New Year period.

Workers initially raised concerns around the supply of drinking water before Christmas when the supply of drinking water became heavily chlorinated.

The response from management was disappointing; in some cases workers were told to bring water with them from home!

Workers had raised the issue several times through the correct channels including – HSR’s, safety meetings and management, unfortunately the problem was not addressed and workers were left with little choice but to raise the issue directly to the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP).

Since raising the issue with the DMP workers have reported back to the Union that the water supply issue seems to have been resolved for now.

The Union believes that Health and Safety issues are best dealt with at a local level wherever possible however, when repeated attempts to address issues are ignored workers have the right to raise their concerns directly with the DMP.


Para members get active 

Over the past year Paraburdoo members have been talking about establishing a WMWA committee at Paraburdoo.

In December members were given the chance to vote on the committee, with 7 members forming the new site committee.

We are confident that these members will do a great job in giving all Paraburdoo members a real say in the unions priorities – and work to make Paraburdoo a better place to work for everyone.

Over the next few weeks the committee will get together to discuss what members at Para really want, and how we can best achieve these things. 


New Organiser Joins the WMWA Team

Jeff Carig has joined the WMWA team this year. Jeff will be working with Andrew to look after members who work across the Pilbara. Jeff is new to the mining industry but is a very experienced organiser who will add to the wealth of experience in the team. 

Jeff will be spending the next few weeks out and about talking with workers at most sites. If you see Jeff around make sure you say g’day.


Introducing Jeff Carig

G’day all, have been in the Union movement for close to a decade now, quite young and committed to the Pilbara and the movement. I believe in standing up for what’s right both in the workplace and in society, and I know the workplace is where it begins. The plan for me over the next few months is to make some friends, build on those relationships and get the lay of the land as well as the legislation, rules, regulations and custom and practice of the workplace in my head so as to work closely with members and activists to build strength for the purpose of securing employment, keeping Rio honest and improve conditions over the coming years. Hope to meet you soon.

You can contact Jeff on 0417 667282 or at [email protected]



15 November 2016

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White Ribbon Day – get involved

Friday the 25th of November marks White Ribbon Day. White Ribbon is the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end men’s violence against women and girls, promote gender equality, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity. This year alone 60 women have been killed by domestic violence, a shocking statistic in anyone’s book, and one that must change.

The union encourages all members to take a stand and get involved on the day.

Events to mark the day are being held in all capital cities and regional centres. For more information about White Ribbon or to find an event near you visit the White Ribbon website at


Proposed changes to operating in lightning practices

Over the past month members at many sites have been told that Rio is changing its current operating in lightning practices to allow for the continued operations during red alerts. Members and safety reps are concerned about the increased risk this will pose to operators using heavy mining equipment.

The Union has raised these concerns directly with Rio through correspondence. We encourage members to speak their safety reps about their concerns. We also encourage and support safety reps to resolve safety issues through the process outlined in the WA Mines Safety Inspection Act 1994 (part 6). 


Quality of Camp Services

The recent shift to Sodexo for supply of camp services has not gone as smoothly as hoped. Numerous reports are coming in from all sites around a drop in standards particularly food available for crib.

We encourage all members who are dissatisfied with the level of quality being provided to fill in the feedback forms available. Copies of these forms can also be sent to Organisers who will be gathering information about the level of services currently provided. Organisers details can be found below.


Union fights for a fair deal for stranded FIFO workers

As many members are already aware there was an Aircraft incident at Paraburdoo airport in the morning of Wednesday the 5th of October. This meant that flights from the Paraburdoo airport had to be cancelled and rescheduled. FIFO workers departing from Tom Price, Paraburdoo and Marandoo were unable to catch their usual scheduled flights until much later that day or the next day. 

This meant that these workers effectively lost a day of their “RnR” which meant missing time with their families and in some cases missing appointments that were unable to be rescheduled.

Many workers have asked local management what steps Rio plans to put in place to makeup for this lost time but are yet to receive any clarity from management. Last week the Union asked Rio management to provide clarity as to how the company proposes to, fairly make up this lost time for workers. We like Rio’s workers are yet to receive any response with specific details about this matter.

FIFO employees work long and hard shifts to ensure they can spend time at home with their families. Rio management’s apparent lack of commitment to address this matter of basic fairness is not respectful or fair for their FIFO workforce and families.

The WMWA intends to pursue this matter with senior management next week and if necessary through the appropriate authority to ensure that impacted members are treated fairly.

If you were impacted by the delayed flights on 4 October please contact your local organiser so we can provide you specific advice and support.


WMWA speaking up for members on things that matter to them



Men are notoriously reluctant to discuss health issues, even a quick check-up with their GP can be pushed back months if not years.

Movember aims to change this and prevent men from dying too young.

Every year millions of mustaches (some dodgy as) are grown in support of raising awareness of men’s health issues.

 Once again this year a long time member of the Union, Nigel Gould from Yandicoogina is doing his part and letting that Mo Grow!

To find out more about Movember and show you support to Nigel in his worthy cause visit the website at

 For more information on these stories or to contact your local organisers email

Andrew - or Shane - [email protected]


11 October 2016

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The Department of mines & Petroleum (DMP) are conducting their annual safety roadshows over the next 2 months. The seminars are designed for safety representatives and interested employees. 

The sessions are free and always informative. Registrations on the days start at 0700 for a 0800 start. The sessions are fairly relaxed and are finished by 2pm with refreshments provided. 

This year they will be focusing on prevention from getting caught, trapped or crushed. Apart form learning about mining safety from the experts, you will also have the chance to chat with other safety focused mining industry employees as well as the DMP mines inspectors. 

If you are off swing you don't need to ask your employer to attend.

If you are on swing and at site near where a session is being conducted we suggest that you ask your management to release you on paid time to attend.

If you want more details about the seminars, enroll online here. Spots can book out fairly quickly so get in early. 

Some upcoming dates that may interest members are 

  • 13 Oct in Tom Price
  • 25 Oct in Bunbury
  • 1 Nov in  Geraldton
  • 4 Nov in Perth

For more information go to the DMP website here.



Recently there has been an increase of enquiries from members about their rights to leave. 

Workers rights to leave are covered by the Fair Work Act and state legislation. Company policy can improve on these but not make workers worse off. 

If you are not sure about your rights or feel that you may have been denied access to a type of leave, contact your local Organiser to discuss.

Remember knowledge is power!



Merchandise can now be ordered via our website.

All WMWA shirts are made right here in Australia from high quality durable material.

To place an order, follow the directions at this link


1 September 2016

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Living and working in the Pilbara is tough, it takes a special resolve to handle the remoteness, weather and harsh environment. These factors, coupled with long working hours and rosters, mean even the most positive of us can feel the bite of the Black Dog at times.

RU OK? Day is a day designed for us to ask this question to our family, friends and workmates.

Are you ok? Sometimes a simple question and a listening ear is all it takes for a person to realise they are not alone and do not have to suffer in silence. For more information on RU OK? Day, visit the RU OK website here

We know that suicide prevention is an enormously complex and sensitive challenge the world over. But we also know that some of the world’s smartest people have been working tirelessly and developed credible theories that suggest there’s power in that simplest of questions - “Are you ok?”



As most members are already aware Rio recently introduced a hiring freeze on full time employees and will now fill most vacancies’ with contractors.

This announcement has caused great concern to existing employees with serious questions being asked about Rio’s commitment to its current workforce and the Pilbara communities it operates from. 

Your Union met with Rio Tinto senior management in August and raised members concerns about the decision. We made it very clear that our members across Rio did not welcome the decision. We explained the members believed the decision would drive down employee’s wages and conditions across the industry.

We also expressed members deep concerns about the impact of contract employment on safety standards across the Iron Ore Division.

We explained that the historical evidence is clear around contractors being less likely to raise safety concerns, making Rios Pilbara worksites less safe at a time when Rio should be looking to improve its safety. We understand that Rio will review the hiring freeze in 12 months time.

As Rio seeks to increase its contract workforce there has never been a more important time for members take the lead on safety in their workplace.

In the current environment it is vital that members Stand up, Speak Up and Back up your workmates about safety concerns at work. If you have unresolved safety concerns or do not feel comfortable raising your concerns with management you can speak to your health and safety rep or Union organiser.

Your safety is in your hands - workers in the Pilbara can raise serious safety concerns anonymously by contacting the department of mines and petroleum on (08) 9358 8010 or by emailing them [email protected]

WMWA - providing a strong voice on the things that matter to you.



WMWA members have many concerns about Rio's periodic medical assessments. These concerns centre on the privacy of personal medical information and members job security. Some members are concerned that Rio may use these periodic medicals as a way to shed parts of its workforce.

To find out about your rights regarding Rio’s medicals go to our advice bulletin.



Due to member demand the WMWA is planning to conduct a lunch and learn meeting for members in Perth on Thursday the 22nd of September 2016. The session will cover things like your rights at work and the WA safety laws.

The session is informal and will take around 2 hours. It is designed to provide you practical information to help you make your workplace fairer and safer.  So we can organise catering please rsvp if you wish to attend by emailing [email protected]





Shane Roulstone

Pilbara Alliance Organiser

Mob: 0417 667 282 Email: [email protected] 


Andrew Smith

Pilbara Alliance Organiser

Mob: 0417 006 100 Email: [email protected]



8 July 2016

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Last months tragedy at Paraburdoo has been deeply felt by all Rio workers, especially so for those at Paraburdoo. All members extend their sincere condolences to Lee’s family. This tragic loss of life is a somber reminder of the significant risks mining workers and their families face every day.

When you are at work please take the time to think of your safety, your family and friends before you start any job. 

The Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) and the WA coroner are conducting investigations into Lee’s death. These investigations will take some time to complete. 

Since the incident the Union has had a number of detailed discussions with DMP and Rio management about the incident and our members safety concerns. We have formally raised members ongoing safety concerns with DMP and the mining industry advisory committee through correspondence.

Over the past few months the WMWA has been highlighting the increasing number of safety concerns with management and members.

We have been encouraging union members to take the lead on safety in their workplace. In the current environment it is vital that members Stand up, Speak Up and Back up your workmates about safety concerns at work.

If you have unresolved safety concerns or do not feel comfortable raising your concerns with management you can speak to your health and safety rep or Union organiser.

Your safety is in your hands - workers in the mining can raise serious safety concerns anonymously by contacting the department of mines and petroleum on (08) 9358 8010 or by emailing them [email protected]

Safety is and always will be Union business. The Union offers practical advice and onsite support to safety reps and members who have safety concerns.

Camera Surveillance of Rio sites 

Recently workers at Western Turner came to the Union with concerns that CCTV cameras had been installed at part of the site without their knowledge.

It was only when supervisors made comments about watching people and the new cameras ability to “zoom right in” that those workers became aware they were being watched.

This was a concern on many levels not least privacy, anyone who has worked in a remote area of a mine site knows that toilet facilities are few and far between.

After Union Organisers raised concerns with management about the cameras and lack of signage a banner was put out to staff informing them of the cameras location. 

WMWA Member Wins Settlement

Recently long term WMWA member and family man was able to walk away with fair compensation for his dismissal from Rio. 

Although the process was at times difficult and drawn out Ryan kept his resolve and with assistance from the Unions legal team was able to get a result he deserved after a decade of service to the company.

The member said “If I didn’t have the Union there to back me up at times I probably would have just walked away from it to be honest, to have someone there to give you advice and support makes all the difference. Whilst it wasn’t a good experience I’m happy with the outcome and thankful for what the Union did for me.”

The Unions legal team is committed to ensuring members receive a fair deal.

Workplace rights training - Monday 18 July in Perth

Due to member demand the WMWA will be conducting a half-day training sessions for members in Perth on Monday 18 July in the afternoon. The session will cover things like your rights at work and the WA safety laws.

The session will take around 4 hours and provide you practical information to help you make your workplace fairer and safer.  If you wish to attend please email Andrew -  [email protected] 



Shane Roulstone - Mob: 0417 667 282

Email: [email protected] 


Andrew Smith - Mob: 0417 006 100

Email: [email protected]



17 July 2016

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WMWA Member Receives Support with Bullying Complaint

Paul a young WMWA member and tradesmen with Rio Tinto came to the Union for support and assistance with a workplace bullying issue he was going through. Being a young worker Paul had found it difficult to raise the issue at work or speak about it outside of the workplace, unfortunately this meant he had suffered alone before coming to his Union for assistance.

Paul and his Organiser sat down together to discuss what had been happening at work and put together a timeframe of the bullying he had been subject to. Together they worked on a formal letter of complaint, which Paul then lodged under Rio’s Anti Harassment and Bullying Policy.

After Management and HR conducted an investigation into the complaint the bully was removed from the workplace and Paul was able to return to his job without the constant worry and stress that had previously made his time at work unpleasant to say the least. Paul said: 

“No one should have to go through what I did at work or outside of it. I was lucky as a member of the Union I was able to get the advice and support I required to resolve the issue. I urge anyone going through what I did to speak up and join your Union, they are there to help you get through your problems.”

If you or anyone you know is being bullied you don’t need to suffer alone. Call your Union Organiser for assistance and support.


WMWA Out and About

WMWA Organisers have been all over the inland Pilbara recently visiting members and interested workers at Hope Downs 1 & 4, West Angelas, Yandicoogina, The Brockman’s, Paraburdoo and Tom Price.

Organisers have also conducted safety inspections at Hope Downs 4, Brockman and Yandicoogina after recent incidences where it was lucky no one was seriously hurt or worse.

We plan to be in Pannawonica visiting Mesa A & J this month before continuing our rounds again! 

If you would like the WMWA to visit your site on a specific day and date get in touch with an Organiser and let them know.



Over the past month the Union has received a significant increase in the number of safety related issues across all sites. As cost pressures are applied across the business many workers feel pressured to cut corners to meet targets.

Safety research clearly shows that as the number of minor safety incidents increase so does the likelihood of serious and fatal incidents.

It’s at these times that it’s really important that union members take the lead and Stand up and Speak Up about safety concerns at work. It’s equalling important that members back each other on safety issues.

The WMWA offers practical advice and onsite support to safety reps and members who have safety concerns. So far in June we have conducted 3 site safety inspections after members raised concerns with us. We have also raised members safety concerns directly with registered managers at 5 sites.

The Union regularly refers unresolved safety matters directly with the Department of Mines and Petroleum.

Safety is and always will be Union business. If you have a safety issue at work raise it with your supervisor and safety rep. If you’re not satisfied with the response get the facts together and contact your local organiser for advice.


Workplace rights training - Monday 18 July in Perth

Due to member demand the WMWA will be conducting a half-day training sessions for members in Perth on Monday 18 July in the afternoon. The session will cover things like your rights at work and the WA safety laws.

The session will take around 4 hours and provide you practical information to help you make your workplace fairer and safer.  If you wish to attend please email Andrew -  [email protected]


National FIFO scheme – good outcome 

After a number of meetings and discussions with Rio management we are pleased to inform members that NFIFO employees will have no significant adverse changes to there current arrangements.

The WMWA provides a strong and independent voice for members on thee issues that matter to them.


WMWA membership fee increase 

Most members should have received your letter regarding a fee increase or want more info please contact your local organiser.


27 April 2016

Click here for a PDF printable version of this news

Redundancies and redeployments

As members are aware 170 roles are being or have been cut from Rio’s Pilbara operations - 80 operators / 70 maintainers / 20 coordinators. There will also be some roster changes, which will occur. 

The WMWA has met with senior management on a number of occasions to discuss the details and ways to mitigate the number of redundancies, as well as reducing the adverse impacts on affected workers. 

Your Union has been directly supporting 26 members through this process. We have been able to assist most members who wished to remain with the business to do so. We will continue to assist and provide individual members sensible professional advice on members lawful options.


Cranes Operators seek to negotiate a collective agreement

Last year Rio Tinto made a number of changes to company policy that adversely impacted the take home pay and conditions of our members in Cranes & Transport. Rightfully members were unhappy with the changes and the lack of genuine consultation from the company.

After discussions with our members the WMWA wrote to the business and raised these concerns in detail.

Members decided they wanted a fair go with more security around their pay and employment conditions. The majority of Crane Operators are in support of the Union entering into bargaining with Rio to negotiate a collective agreement for crane operators in the Pilbara. 

Last week the WMWA wrote to Rio management seeking formal discussions around bargaining for a Crane Operator’s agreement. This is a significant step for all Rio workers in the Pilbara.

Over the next few weeks the WMWA will undertake the necessary discussions and actions required to commence bargaining with Rio. It is expected this is likely to involve some legal proceedings. Members understand this process will take some time to work through.

There will be several meetings organised with members to provide updates on the bargaining process, details of these meetings will be provided directly to members. If you have any questions please contact your local organiser directly.


National FIFO scheme review – announcement imminent

Members who are part of the National FIFO scheme (Interstate FIFO) will be aware that Rio has been reviewing the scheme over the last 6 months. Reports are coming in from members who have been verbally informed by their managers that the scheme is about to cease. 

Whilst there are many rumors about the outcome of the review no formal announcement has been made as yet.

The WMWA has meet with senior management to raise members concerns about any possible changes and will continue do so. We have advised Rio that the Union will do what ever is required to ensure that our member’s lawful rights are protected. 

Members who are on the scheme should ensure they have a copy of their employment contract available. If you don’t have a copy contact HR - 1300 667703 and ask for a copy to be emailed to you ASAP.

If your workmates are National FIFO employees you should encourage them to join the Union before any announcement is made. This will ensure we can assist them through the process.

Joining is easy – go to and click on the join portal or contact your local organiser who’s details can also be found on the website.


No place for Bullying

Bullying is defined as repeated, unwanted and unreasonable behavior. It’s nothing new, in fact it’s probably been happening since man could talk maybe even before.

At some time in our lives we have all been bullied, been the bully or seen it happen to someone else.

It’s a hot topic amongst schools and their students, there are programs run to teach kids that it’s not ok to bully and if you see it happen report it. It’s not such a hot topic in the workplace though is it? Despite statistics showing that 1 in 3 Australian workers will experience bullying in their workplace it is still a little spoken of topic.

Bullying can be aggressive (easily seen) shouting, physically threatening more often though it is passive (teasing, humiliation, rumors and gossip) either way the effects on the victim can be extreme and long lasting. All too often bullying goes unreported as victims and witnesses do not want to make the issue bigger for themselves and have little faith the issue will be resolved if it is reported.

Bullying is an issue that should always be taken seriously, if you are being bullied at work or know someone who his please call a WMWA Organiser to discuss what is happening and the options you have available to resolve the issue. No one should suffer in silence.

Further information on bullying and support services available can be found here –


May Day 2016

May Day is being celebrated on 1 May in Fremantle this year. It’s a great chance to celebrate the achievements of workers and catch up with members from other sites. For further information about this any of the news articles contact your local organiser.


Shane Roulstone

Pilbara Alliance Organiser

Mob: 0417 667 282 Email: [email protected] 


Andrew Smith

Pilbara Alliance Organiser

Mob: 0417 006 100 Email: [email protected]



9 February 2016  

Click here for a PDF printable version of this news

RIO order wage freeze for employees in 2016

At the start of the year Sam Walsh (CEO - Rio Tinto) emailed employees and outlined the challenges for the business in 2016.  The email discussed the business priorities for 2016 and included details about a pay freeze for most employees in 2016. Mr Walsh’s email to employees was widely reported in the media.

Members and Rio employees understand the challenges the business faces in the current market and know 2016 will be another challenging year for the business. Whilst disappointed about the freeze members trust that this decision combined with the recent record production figures will eliminate the need for any large-scale job cuts this year. 

Members acknowledge the fact that Mr Walsh communicated the decision early, personally and directly with all employees by email. At least members won’t be subjected to months of uncertainty and rumours about their pay for 2016. 

WMWA member Frank said, “it’s easy to announce a pay freeze when you get 10 mil a year like Sam. He gets some credit for being upfront about it and applying it to management as well. Its times like these you realise the real value of having union negotiated collective agreements that lock in your pay and conditions at work. I am looking forward to when we have one of these agreements in Pilbara in the not to distant future”


Changes to RIO's alcohol and other drugs policy

In January Rio announced changes to their Alcohol and other drugs policy. Previously employees who tested below 0.02 were given the chance of follow up test within 30 minutes to see if they were 0.00 and fit for work.

The change sees a simplified 0.00 blood alcohol level applied across the board. If your test registers anything above 0.00 you will be considered unfit for work. You should expect in this case to be removed from the workplace and appropriate arrangements made for transportation to your home or company provided accommodation.

WMWA and AWU Secretary Stephen Price said. “Members and the Union’s want the safest possible workplaces. Workers should understand that as a result of these changes, any positive test results will place their employment in jeopardy”.  

For more information about changes to the AOD policy contact your WMWA organiser


A big year ahead for the WMWA

2016 is shaping up as another big year for WMWA members in the Pilbara. As membership continues to grow at all Rio sites, the Alliance has had many enquires about the member training sessions we ran in 2015 around “workplace rights and representation”.

These one-day sessions are conducted in Perth and the Pilbara. The sessions cover a wide range of things, like your industrial and safety rights at work. The current scheduled WMWA training dates for 2016 are:

* April 4th and 5th in Perth

* April 6th and 7th in the Pilbara.

* September 19th and 20th in Perth

* September 21st and 22nd in the Pilbara 

We will also be running a number of site based lunch and learn sessions for members this year. If you want more information about member training or are interested in attending these training sessions please email [email protected] Courses can book out quickly so get in early.