||Issue No. 132||19 April 2002|
Interview: Generation Next
Legal: We’re All Terrorists Now
Unions: Holding the Baby
International: Taking It To The Streets
History: Off the Wall
Economics: Financing International Development
Satire: Queen Mum's Life Tragically Cut Short
Review: Return of The People’s Parliament
Poetry: Silent Night
The Locker Room
Week in Review
Where's the Silver Tail?
Workers Die Waiting For Justice
CFMEU Mining Division president Tony Maher revealed the deaths during an emotional plea for Government to stop “grandstanding” over unfair dismissals and address injustices “threatening families and tearing apart whole communities”.
The CFMEU wants legislation to stop multi-nationals with deep pockets side-stepping laws that everyone else is bound by.
"The scales of justice are being titlted out of the reach of ordinary Australians when big companies are allowed to use their economic power to see off people with just cases," Maher said.
He was speaking after hundreds of mineworkers, construction workers and their supporters rallied outside Rio Tinto's AGM this week, protesting further delays in reinstating 206 Hunter Valley and central Queensland mineworkers who have won three separate cases against the company, since their 1998 sackings.
In the course of those judgements, Rio Tinto was found to have operated blacklists and destroyed documents relevant to the proceedings.
The company, which has appealed every verdict, has so far spent more than $10 million in keeping the workers away from their jobs at the Blair Athol, Hunter Valley No 1 and Mt Thorley mines. During one case, alone, it had a high-powered legal team operating for 60 days.
After the rally, addressed by ACTU secretary Greg Combet and attended by supportive Labor MPs including Kirsten Livermore, Kelly Hoare, Kerry Hickey and shadow Resources Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, protesters used proxies to enter the belly of the beast.
Sacked workers, former workmates, their wives, union officials and MPs urged Rio Tinto to face up to its responsibilities.
Speakers gave the lie to company claims there were no jobs to return to, revealing hundreds of contractors on higher rates than miners, were keeping the operations ticking over.
Men and women told of how the dismissals and resulting divisions had damaged previously tight-knit communities.
Maher said his union had spent "a fortune" chasing Rio Tinto around the legal block and there had to come a time when even the biggest company bowed to the rule of law.
"The law must be changed," Maher said. "Three times these people have been proven right but the company is allowed to keep on appealing at the expense of Australian families and mining communities.
"It's unfair, it's crazy and, because of the human cost, it's bloody disgraceful."
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