Up to 15 miners were fired from Agnew Gold Mine after a Harlem shake video was filmed while working underground, on the basis that it was deemed a safety hazard. The you tube video shows eight miners wearing safety gear sans shirts while performing the convulsive dance. Though there were only 8 men involved in the dance, many others were fired for watching.
Mine owner Barminco considered the stunt a safety issue and a breach of the “core values of safety, integrity and excellence,” of the company. Barminco added that the involved workers will no longer be allowed “to be subcontracted by Barminco at any site domestically and globally.” Effectively banning them from majority of mines across Australia.
Though it isn’t clear what safety issues are raised, all involved kept safety equipment on. And one fired worker later told a newspaper that the shirts were removed in order to protect Barmincos logo from appearing in the video.
Australia is experiencing a mining boom, with workers flooding in attracted by the high salaries to go to remote outback mines. The miners who lost their jobs also lost six-figure salaries.
To watch the video click here:
The miners maintain that they were “having a bit of fun” and the offence took place at 2:30am while exhaustion was setting in. And doing the video was a way to boost moral.
None of the miners at Agnew Gold Mine involved in the incident is a member of the mining union. A Facebook page in support has been created in order to try to drum up support for the sacked workers, and though there are people who believe that safety procedures were breached and do not support the miners getting their job back. There are over 2,300 supporters who have liked the page.
When I first learned of this story I didn’t immediately take the miners side, I was concerned that if safety procedures had been broken then that isn’t discrimination based on personality. That would be getting fired for breaking the rules, which would make sense.
After reading multiple newspaper articles and watching the video myself I see the only defence for firing (and essentially ending the careers of) these miners was the apparent disobeying of safety regulations and undermining Barmincos reputation. Which I see no merit in. The miners wore helmets and their boots, and the safety equipment required while working, with the exception of their shirts. Which we have learned after the fact was done to protect the companies name from being exposed.
So these things taken into consideration, it is easy to see where the miners are coming from. At 2:30am many things seem like a great idea, add in the fact that the Harlem Shake videos were all the rage on You Tube at that time with many organizations competing online to ‘one-up’ other organizations. Combined with the fact “Harlem Shake” by Baauer was in the #2 spot on the Australian music charts at the time. There is no doubt that it is a catchy tune perfect for rejuvenating tired bodies and getting energy levels back up.
So my question is, can these miners really be prosecuted for taking a break at 2:30am? Regardless of how they chose to spend their time while on their break, they were tired and needed some time to un-wind and let loose. If they had sat in their equipment and had a coffee, would they be getting fired? Or was it the way they chose to spend their break?
I personally don’t believe anyone should be prosecuted on decisions based on personality, as long as these decisions don’t reflect poorly on the employer. Which in the case of the miners, they had removed their shirts to prevent just that.
So in reality, if Barminco had only reprimanded, or alerted the miners to how they feel the behaviour is unacceptable there would be no story and the internet would never have known therefore protecting the company from bad publicity. Instead by firing the 15 workers outright it caused enough interest for the Internet to notice and for the story and causes it to spread like wildfire. Not to mention how the public interest brings attention to how easily this company ruined the careers of 15 of its employees. Each invested their time with the company, and each with a family to support. Which in my opinion makes Barminco look much worse then having a few of their men make a 30 second funny video.
By: Lindsey Clark