Welcome to the Mobile Workers Guide – Fly-in/Fly-out and Rotational Shift Work in Mining.
This guide is designed for people who work in the extractive industry (and their families) and who fly or drive as long-distance commuters to a mining camp.
These forms of labour mobility are called FIFO (Fly-in/Fly-out) or DIDO (Drive-in/Drive-out). Some workers come from nearby communities while others have to fly for many hours to get to work. The Guide contains useful information also for companies and communities affected by FIFO/DIDO.
Spending ‘half of one’s life’ in camp and going back and forth from home means having to deal with a very specific life-style.
Life in camp is very different from life at home, where family and friends are around. The mining sector goes through boom and bust cycles, which strongly affect the stability of jobs.
The Mobile Workers Guide describes ways to develop skills to get through these ups and downs. It contains many useful tips for people who want to pursue a long-term professional career in this industry.
If you are just about to start FIFO or DIDO – or thinking about it – you will find many details on the specifics of this lifestyle in the Mobile Workers Guide.
Workers from a huge variety of professions related to the extractive industry and their family members talk about their experiences and provide their advice on how to successfully live a mobile life in mining. They talk about the benefits of this kind of work and also raise awareness of problems that may come along the way – be it in the workplace, in the family or as a woman in mining.
The guide also includes the experiences of First Nation employees who live in towns close-by and in the traditional territories where mining takes place.
Many First Nation people feel a strong attachment to their land. Besides wage work, they also hunt, fish and gather as part of their cultural way of life.
Therefore, this guide also addresses how working in a mine and ‘living off the land’ can be successfully combined.
The numerous interviews we have gathered allowed us, the authors, to gain deep insights into the mobile life in the mining sector and what mining means to local communities, their socio-economic development and employment in the region.
The Mobile Workers Guide was developed between 2014 and 2017 by the team of the research project “LACE – Labour Mobility and Community Participation in Mining – Case Studies in the Yukon”. Throughout those years we collaborated with the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun and the Village of Mayo. Furthermore we have visited various mine sites and different communities in the Yukon Territory where mining or exploration takes place.
Big thanks go to all the interview partners who took part in this study. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the members of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun (FN NND), to Chief and Council, the Elders and to the FN NND heritage department in Mayo for teaching us about life, their culture and what mining means to the region as well as their great support for this project. We would like to thank the numerous people from Mayo who contributed to this project. We also thank the council of the Village of Mayo for hosting us and their support.
Throughout the years we also visited Keno City, Dawson City, Carmacks, Pelly Crossing, Ross River, Whitehorse and many other places in the Yukon in order to collect a wide variety of perspectives. Many thanks to all the wonderful people we talked to in these places, the friends we made and the interview partners and mine employees who contributed to this project.
In a sense, the Mobile Workers Guide is written “by you and for you” – it would not have been possible without all the shared stories and experiences.
Furthermore, we thank the numerous experts from organizations and institutions related to the mining sector, and scientists who shared their knowledge, time and expertise. We visited mining sites, talked to over a hundred people* in interviews and had innumerable informal talks in order to learn about the way of life in a mining region. Without all these people this Mobile Workers Guide would not exist.
We would like to thank our funding institutions (mentioned in the beginning of this booklet), the companies who cooperated, and everyone else who facilitated or helped in any way.
A special thanks goes to Joella Hogan, Heritage Manager at FN NND as well as to Valoree Walker, research coordinator for ReSDA at the Yukon College, for being so incredibly helpful all along the way.
We are grateful to the following people who commented on this guide and helped with their expertise or personal experience to improve it: Bobbie-Lee Melancon, Liz Blair, Beverly Genier, Jessica Dutton, Tara Cater, Andrew Harwood, Robert Seminiuk and, Justin Fromme.
Gertrude Saxinger and Susanna Gartler
* All names are changed for confidentiality reasons.