‘“You get really old, really quick”: Involuntary long hours in the mining industry

Published 2011

Publication Type: Journal Articles (Refereed Article)

Author(s): Peetz, David Robert; Murray, Georgina

Is there a job quality problem in mining? Is part of this problem that mining employees are working involuntary long hours? If so, how extensive is this problem? What is the impact, if any, of involuntary long hours in mining on family life? And how much control do mining employees have over their working time arrangements? What are the possible policy responses? We address these questions through analysis of data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Work and Life Index survey, a survey of employees in Queensland and qualitative interviews with 135 people associated with the Queensland mining industry. We find evidence of substantial involuntary long hours in mining, closely related to 24-hour operations and twelve hour shifts, with adverse implications for the work-life balance and worsened where employees lack input into the design of rosters. The findings suggest that, in order to promote ‘good jobs’ in the mining industry, there is both a need to revisit protections for employees against being forced to work ‘unreasonable’ hours above the ostensible national standard of 38 hours per week and strong support even amongst mineworkers for a ceiling on hours worked per week.

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