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Union recommends scrapping tax perks for companies using FIFO workers

FIFOMine companies that employ a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workforce instead of local workers should be denied certain tax concessions according to the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).

The union recommended the controversial move to the parliamentary committee for Northern Australia which met in Canberra last night.

CFMEU Mining and Energy General Vice President Wayne McAndrew said the growing use of FIFO in the mining industry was denying jobs to locals in regional areas and undermining the livelihood of regional communities.

“There is a legitimate role for FIFO work arrangements in remote areas,” said Mr McAndrew.

“But mining companies’ preference for FIFO at the expense of employing locals is seriously hurting regional areas.

“We have operations in Central Queensland that will only employ people from Cairns or Brisbane, meaning locals are locked out of jobs or have to fly to Brisbane before they start their shift.

“The economic and social fallout for communities is enormous as families leave town, businesses close and services dry up.

“Driving the boom in FIFO work practices is the tax breaks mining companies get for flying in a commuting workforce rather than investing in training and employing locals.”

The Windsor Report into the growing use of FIFO/DIDO work practices tabled in parliament last year recommended restructuring the tax system to wind back Fringe Benefit Tax exemptions for the use of FIFO workers in established regional communities; and to create incentives for regional home ownership.

“Companies often use the argument that FIFO offers ‘choice’ – but they are removing choice for workers to live locally.

“We urge the Committee to recommend overhauling the tax system to end preferential tax treatment for the use of FIFO over local workers and we urge the Federal Government to implement the recommendations of the Windsor Report.”