Saturday, May 28, 2022

Union condemns ‘bloody shame’ situation at South Hedland Motel housing resource workers

According to the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) WA branch, the living conditions for FIFO resource workers at the Pilbara Motel are “shameful and reprehensible”.

MUA WA North West organizer Joel O’Brien said the situation at the Lodge Motel in South Headland was “out of control”, and an employee was hospitalized with a staph infection after scratching his foot on furniture in his room Was.

He said the rooms were not adequately cleaned, with some workers opting to bring their own cleaning products.

Mr O’Brien said the building had “massive” rodent and insect infestations.

“I’ve actually got pictures of rats eating noodles, chocolate bars, and chip packets when people are sleeping,” he said.

Joel O’Brien says some employees bring their own food to avoid being served food at the Lodge Motel.,Supplied: MUA WA,

Mr O’Brien said some workers resorted to bringing their own food.

,[The motel] Continuously reuses food for the next day, hot food is cold, and cold food is hot. There have been cases of food poisoning.”

Lodge motels are commonly used to house FIFO employees, with some resource companies booking up to 30 rooms at a time.

ABC understands that the union focused on workers in the shipping, towage and maritime industries, but workers from several other resource sectors also stayed at the motel.

The union would not name the companies keeping the employees in the motels at this stage as talks were going on with some of them.

Dirty urinals, two of which have unordered signs hanging.
Bad urinal at the Lodge Motel.,Supplied: MUA WA ,

Motel denies wrongdoing

Helen Hong, manager of the Lodge Motel, said the site was not “100 percent accurate”, but that there was a serious threat or disturbance caused to the occupants of the rooms.

He said that neither the union nor the workers have made an official complaint.

“The pictures they are posting out there try to make things look bad. But in reality it is not,” she said.

“They have never made any official complaint to us.”

Ms Hong said the motel was regularly inspected by the Town of Port Hedland and any animals in the rooms were reported to pest controllers.

“The health inspectors from the Town of Port Hedland visit us regularly. They have to do their job, they have to check the place, and our place – in fact, I can’t say 100 percent accurate – but It’s great.”

Terms of Association report

The union has reported the Lodge Motel in the Town of Port Hedland and is considering referring the matter to WorkSafe.

a man in a suit standing in front of the palm
Port Hedland Mayor Peter Carter said the city’s health team had completed an inspection of the motel.,ABC News: Eliza Borello,

Mayor Peter Carter said the city’s health team had completed an inspection of the motel and an instruction sheet would be issued to correct any compliance issues.

Mr Carter said the owners did a “great job” in trying to keep the motel up to date, but the reduced staff was likely making it more difficult to manage.

“I think a lot of places aren’t that low, but maybe overlook a few things where if they had staff they would have fixed it pretty quickly,” he said.

A dirty clothes dryer.
A dirty washing machine at the Lodge Motel.,Supplied: MUA WA,

Mr O’Brien said, given the lack of available housing in the headland, it will be a challenge to address this issue.

The Lodge Motel is advertised as $229 a night, which Mr. O’Brien said is standard in the area.

He said resource companies often do not have the choice of where to place workers.

“Price is a big issue. Companies have a clear reason to change less on this, as opposed to going for the more expensive one,” he said.

“If you have 20 employees in a room a night and it’s saving $60 per person, that adds up very quickly.”

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