Building Commission linked to construction deaths
Construction workers have linked the rising number of deaths in the construction industry with the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and have called for its immediate abolition.
Deaths in the construction industry increased, from 3.14 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2004 to 3.86 in 2005, 5.6 in 2006, 4.48 in 2007 and 4.27 in 2008.
Speaking ahead of nationwide events to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day tomorrow (Wednesday 28 April), CFMEU Construction National Secretary, Dave Noonan urged all Australians, including employers, to back union moves to reduce the number of lives lost in the sector.
“The safety record of our construction sector is a national mark of shame,” Dave Noonan said.
“Since the ABCC and the construction industry laws came in, in 2005, there has been a massive increase in deaths and serious injuries in our industry.
“The four tragic deaths during the insulation program clearly demonstrate the result of a deregulated and largely non-unionised sector,” he said.
CFMEU members rank safety their top priority and the union responds to this by working constantly to improve safety on construction sites. In the wake of the tragic insulation deaths, for instance, the union ran a national campaign to remind workers of their rights and released a video of safety tips for construction workers to protect their lives on the job.
“But ultimately it’s bad laws that cost lives,” Mr Noonan said.
“Bad laws that are used to intimidate workers.
“Bad laws that stop experienced union organisers visiting sites to review safety.
“Bad laws which mean a worker like Ark Tribe is facing six months in prison after safety concerns got so bad on his worksite, workers decided they had to take some action.
“Too many workers have a story to tell about workplace accidents. Every worker has the right to come home safely. We know when there is a strong union presence on construction sites, with active union members, safety is better,” said Mr Noonan.
On average 50 workers each year are killed as a result of a workplace accident in the sector. In memory of those killed, the CFMEU has produced a commemorative video of workers sharing their stories of workplace incidents. View the video here or on YouTube.
International Workers' Memorial Day events include:
- Sydney, New South Wales: 12:30pm rally at Little Pier Park, Memory Lines Memorial, Darling Harbour.
- Brisbane, Queensland: 10am rally at Roma Street Forum with unveiling of memorial and respects paid to 12 Queensland workers killed in 2009 - 2010.
- Adelaide, South Australia: 10:30am memorial Service at St Stephen's Church Wakefield Street, followed by a rally in Victoria Square, Adelaide, at midday.
- Melbourne, Victoria: 10am rally at Memorial Rock, Trades Hall, Lygon Street.
- Perth, Western Australia: 10:30am service at Solidarity Park, Harvest Terrace, Perth. Perth Bell Tower tolls at midday for each worker killed this year in WA.
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