||Issue No. 200||24 October 2003|
The Hard Yards
Interview: No Ifs, No Butts
Unions: National Focus
Industrial: Fools Gold
Bad Boss: Bones of Contention
History: The Gong Show
Politics: The Hawke Legacy
International: Sick Nation
Economics: Closed Minds
Review: Mixing Pop and Politics
Poetry: One Size Fits All
The Locker Room
Advance Australia Where?
God Save Us All
US Seeking Aussie Info
Call The Doctor
Bring Back Gough
Bring Back Social Democracy
Look East, Look West
Workers Rally For ‘Joel’s Law’
Thousands are expected to rally across the state on Monday, October 27. The Sydney protest will be addressed by Sue Exner, mother of Joel Exner, who was tragically killed on October 15.
His death has galvanised organisations calling for changes to the law to protect worker's lives and hold to account those employers who place profits before safety.
"Joel was killed as a result of his boss cutting corners to maximise profits," says Andrew Ferguson, state secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU). "This is not an accident - it is most clearly manslaughter; a young worker unnecessarily killed."
Building workers across the state are set to walk off the job on Monday to join rallies calling for greater penalties against those responsible for workplace deaths. Families of workers killed on the job will be leading the Sydney rally.
On average one worker a week is killed in the workplace in NSW.
The CFMEU has condemned the Federal Government for spending $60 million on a royal commission into the building industry and failing to look at safety standards - standards that if ignored can lead to death.
Joel died as a result of a 12-metre fall that could have been avoided had the employer, Garry Denson Metal Roofing Pty Ltd, taken adequate safety measures. Joel's employer was subcontracting at the site to principal contractor Australand, who had repeatedly been asked by the site's safety committee to address safety concerns at their site.
The concerns were so strong that the safety committee had put its concerns in writing.
The death of Joel has lead to calls from the CEPU Plumbing Division for an extensive safety induction-training course for any worker under 18 commencing work in the building industry. Joel Exner had been at work just three days prior to his death and received no safety induction.
Hundreds of mourners attended last Thursday's funeral for Joel Exner, while members of the Rail Tram and Bus Union stopped work for a minute in memory of the popular Blacktown teenager.
"This will impact not only on the family, but on the whole community," said Andrew Ferguson after attending the funeral. "Joel had a right to live."
The NSW Labor Council has endorsed the rallies set down for Monday October 27 that will call for industrial manslaughter legislation to be introduced in NSW.
"We need stronger laws to send out a powerful message to employers that if you do breach your obligations, and that does result in death, then the full force of the law will be trained on you," says NSW Labor Council secretary John Robertson. "Once the boss knows they might be thrown in the slammer it is more likely there going to be focussed on ensuring that incidents like this don't occur."
"These sorts of laws are not about throwing employers in gaol, they are about changing behaviour patterns of shonky, negligent employers. My preference is that no one goes to gaol because the fact that the law's introduced is sufficient to change the behaviour of employers."
The call for changes to the law has received support from legislators.
"If you can be sent to gaol for fraud then how can you not be subject to gaol for killing someone in the workplace?" Asks NSW ALP upper house MP Ian West. "The labour market cannot be compared to the meat market. These are real people. We are not going to the abattoirs to get a leg of lamb here."
Building unions are intent on ensuring justice for Joel and his friends and family.
Justice For Joel - Safety Rallies
In Sydney workers will be rallying at Town Hall Square from 11am on Monday, October 27. There will also be rallies held at the same time on the Central Coast at Gosford on the corner of Baker Street and Georgiana Terrace; in the Wollongong, at the amphitheatre in the City Mall; and in the ground floor meeting room at the Newcastle Trades Hall.
The families of workers killed in the workplace will be meeting prior to the rallies at 10am on Monday October 27 at the CFMEU Office, 15 Wentworth Avenue in the city. These families will be leading the Sydney rally.
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