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Worker Story: Through the Eyes of Mining’s Next Generation

Harry Morton 28/3/19

The current resources and mining industry poses many different challenges to workers.

For those who are new to the industry, they may have never experienced ‘the good old days’ like others have. We often want to know, who was there during that time? How did people make a start in the industry and how old were they? What was it like at first?

We asked the same questions to Peter Terblanche, a MyPass user who represents the newest generation of workers.

Five years ago, Peter made his start in the resources industry at age eighteen. In that time, he’s experienced the pros and cons of the industry. Some of the topics we discussed include the challenges faced by younger generations, the ‘dog eat dog’ culture that can exist within the industry and the overall FIFO lifestyle. Based in Mandurah, about 70km south of Perth, Peter spent part of his childhood in South Africa before moving with his father to Australia. He describes his father as a hard worker, plying his trade as a boilermaker to put food on the table. Peter’s inspiration to join the industry came from his father. When many others were attracted to trades like Welders, he decided to take the path of a Rigger to try something different.

“It’s never the same job, you’re always having to think and use your brain, so it keeps it interesting” he said.

Over the past five years, he’s worked a mixture of FIFO as well as local contracts. Having flown into sites such as Wheatstone (WA) & Olympic Dam (SA), he found that for him FIFO wasn’t worth it in the end. Working a 4:1 roster, Peter felt he was missing out on too much back home and so opted to find local work landing a job at an Alcoa refinery for the past two years.

Peter has worked at different sites around Australia (Image: Peter Terblanche)

Like many others, he’s currently on a casual contract but says there are lots of full-time positions being offered at the moment and that he’s hoping to land one. His main motivation is the job security it would provide as well as benefits of annual leave and rostered-days-off (RDOs).

“I’m also just grateful with my current job that I can be home every night but am still earning a decent rate” he said.  

As a worker in his early twenties, living out of home, saving for a deposit on his first home and with bills to pay, there are certain challenges that come with being a young worker in the industry.

“With pay rates slowly dying, it makes it harder when expenses and cost of living are actually going up.”

Peter also has his sixty tonne crane license but recalls being turned away from roles due to his age.

“I’ve heard ‘Oh he’s too young’, if you’ve got the ticket and you’ve done the training, I don’t see why they wouldn’t give you a go”, he said.

He’s currently looking to get an open class crane-license (up to 100 tonnes) to increase his chances of getting this kind of work, despite his age.

Morning views from a workers camp (Image: Peter Terblanche)

One aspect of the industry that Peter has found frustrating is the lengths some workers will go to elevate themselves over others. He described certain workers as just trying to go up the chain, even trying to catch other people out or make things up in order to be favored over them.

“They end up losing their job, can’t feed their families, off work for a while, all that just to stay on a job an extra week.”

He believes that this kind of culture isn’t what it should be about when everyone is just there to make a living, feed their families and pay the bills.

Peter first came across MyPass through his employer at the time UGL. Previously, he’d find work through different connections, family or online in place such as Facebook or SEEK.

When asked about MyPass, he said “It’s handy compared to other sites, it individually keeps all your tickets in there. It’s good to send it out to an employer and says here’s all my tickets and trades.”

As part of the newest generation of workers, Peter’s offered an interesting perspective on the resources industry today. Like others, he’ll need to continue adapting to the changes and challenges that come his way as the industry continues to evolve. He aspires to one day feel proud that he can provide for his own family like his father did for him.

If you or someone you know has their own unique experience of working in the resources industry, please reach out to our team as we’d love to hear from you.

Contact: hmorton@mypassglobal.com

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