Technology

WA FIFO women become high-vis video stars on TikTok

WA FIFO women become high-vis video stars on TikTok

FIFO life on WA’s mine sites is taking centre stage on TikTok as a growing group of women turn themselves into high-vis video stars.

Grinding out 12 hour shifts in some of the most remote locations in WA with little chance to socialise, the video-sharing platform has become a new way for FIFO women to let off steam.

Posting under #fifochicks and other similar hashtags these high-vis video stars are finding their voice — and their dance moves — on the popular social media site.

Followers are treated to an insight into FIFO life from a woman’s perspective, with content ranging from TikTok dance challenges and jokes about how to deal with flies to weightier subjects including being the target of harassment and on-site rumours.

FIFO worker Celeste Barker, with more than 4000 followers, is among those to join the trend.

The 28-year-old works a two-weeks-on-two-off roster, flying into a copper mine in the Great Sandy Desert for her cleaning job.

Being one of the few single women working in a testosterone-fuelled environment comes with unique challenges, Ms Baker told PerthNow.

And, for Ms Baker, it is all fodder for her TikTok account. One of her most liked videos has been of her doing a “duet” with another female FIFO worker about untrue on-site rumours.

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“Working in an environment where there are a lot of men, it is a different culture, I don’t think a lot of people understand,” she said.

While she says there is much to enjoy about the work, a number of times Ms Baker said she had been the receiving end of unwanted advances and sexual innuendo.

Recently, she was the subject of an on-site “joke” falsely linking her to a manager who is married with children.

And, on a different site, a colleague had to be transferred after he began contacting her late at night, outside work hours, and making other unwanted advances.

“Just recently there was a bit of a joke going around. With guys, things get taken sexually all the time when there’s nothing sexual at all about it,” she said.

“A totally innocent thing and it can get blown way out of proportion.”

Most companies, she said, were quick to jump on any inappropriate behaviour once it was raised with management.

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Ms Baker said there was also a misconception that all FIFO workers took home fat pay-checks.

“A lot of people assume that people are on really good wages, but when you calculate what hours you are doing and then compare that to doing a full-time job you are just doing that in a condensed amount of time. So you are doing loads of hours in two weeks.”

But the block of time off does allow Ms Baker to work on her side-hustle: Aqua Activewear an online site that sells leggings, sports bras and tops.

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Ms Baker said people who worked FIFO — especially those with children — made huge sacrifices.

For her, starting and maintaining a relationship has been difficult.

“You have these massive gaps between seeing the person, that makes it difficult, and generally they are working normal jobs so you can only have weekends,” she said.

“So generally people who work FIFO will find someone at work or whatever, but then you get typecast as ‘easy’, it’s not win-win.

“It has its challenges but you kind of have to be a little bit thick-skinned, I mean people are always going to talk crap.”

When it comes to creating her TikTok content, Ms Baker says her managers are aware of what she is doing and she tries to confine it to her break times.

“If I was spending hours and hours on TikTok and my work wasn’t getting done I think something would get brought up about it,” she said.

“Some people might be doing a bit too much TikTok at work but they haven’t raised any issues with us yet.”

“It is a bit of an outlet, especially when you are working away, it is a bit of an escape and a bit of fun for a bit.”

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Ms Baker said the appeal of TikTok was that it was a refreshing escape from the posturing and fakery of Instagram and Facebook.

It was also a place FIFO workers could share jokes about life on site, for example what it was like when a “hot” new guy started, or the perils of trying to diet when you had access to full buffet meals every day.

“With FIFO stuff there’s a few jokes on there that FIFO workers will totally understand,” she said.

“(I posted) one about when someone good-looking rocks up on site — it’s just funny because that is exactly what happens because you are away and you are stuck with the same people day-in and day-out and then someone new arrives.

“And, just how Aussie it can be out there. Seriously, I’ll go away and I’ll be talking normally and then I’ll come home after being around blokey guys ... and the Shazza comes out.”

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For Ms Baker the upside to FIFO work far outweighs the negatives.

She sees it as a good way to get ahead and says it also offers a career stepping stone. It was also “cool” to be part of massive projects.