A YouTube video shows eight miners wearing safety gear while performing the convulsive dance in the Agnew Gold Mine last week. The West Australian newspaper quoted a sacked worker who wouldn’t give his name as saying up to 15 people were fired, including some who watched the performance but did not participate.
Mine owner Barminco considered the stunt a safety issue and a breach of its “core values of safety, integrity and excellence,” according to a dismissal letter cited by the paper.
The letter noted that Barminco would not allow the dancing workers “to be subcontracted by Barminco at any site domestically and globally.”
It is not clear from the video what safety issues are raised. The dancing miners wear helmets, but five are shirtless. The sacked worker told the newspaper that shirts had been removed to ensure the Barminco name did not appear in the video.
Barminco, which has operations in Africa as well as its native Australia, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
Australia is experiencing a mining boom, with thousands of workers attracted by high salaries to remote Outback mines. The West Australian said the miners who lost their jobs had six-figure salaries.
The unnamed worker who spoke to the newspaper said the miners were only “having a bit of fun.” A Facebook page set up seeking their reinstatement carried comments supporting the workers as well as people saying safety regulations should be obeyed.
Paddy Gorman, spokesman for the Construction, Forestry, Mining, and Energy Union, said none of the miners at Agnew Gold Mine in resource-rich Western Australia state is a member of the mining union.
Up to 4,000 videos of “Harlem Shake” variations are uploaded on the Internet daily. The song “Harlem Shake,” recorded by Brooklyn disc jockey and producer Baauer, is currently No.2 on the Australian singles chart.