FIFO and relationships – not so good

The West, Perth’s only newspaper until Fairfax launches its’ much anticipated online effort, has an amusing yet sad article on the perils of working in remote mines.

FIFO (Fly in, fly out) means workers get several days of constant work (say 8) followed by several (say 6)  days at home. Mileage can vary – with some gigs operating for much longer on and off.

It is big business – Perth Airport on a Monday or Tuesday morning is appallingly overcrowded, yet amusingly empty during the early evening (when the direct flight to NZ departs). Indeed it’s so hard to find people to work out here in Western Australia that some people will even fly in from the Eastern states or beyond.

The side effect of the FIFO culture, however, is apparently the increased use of Private Investigators to check out whether one’s loved one is being faithful during those nights apart:

One Port Hedland brothel claimed it was turning away up to 60 men on Friday and Saturday nights because sex workers could not keep up with demand.

It seems that the PI use is split evenly between wives checking up on husbands to see if they are using prostitutes, and husbands checking up on wives to ensure they are not filling their boring days with some extra excitement.

It is amusing, and yet very sad.

The FIFO lifestyle is really a tough one – those 6 days in a row on a break may seem fun, but the constant grind of 8 days at 12 hours a day is pretty tough. Accommodation at those remote sites is generally pretty spartan, although some effort is being made given the recent dearth of people.

However the biggest impact is on relationships:

Relationships Australia WA director of clinical practice Marian Affleck said yesterday she had noticed a conspicuous number of couples seeking advice having found their once-stable relationship on shaky ground now they were spending time apart.

So yes – the money can be great, but watch out for that lifestyle. On the other hand – if you really need work, then there is plenty on offer in booming Western Australia.

About Lance Wiggs

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