||Issue No. 226||25 June 2004|
Interview: The New Democrat
Bad Boss: The Ugly Australian
Unions: Free Spirits and Slaves
Industrial: National Focus
History: A Class Act
International: Across the Ditch
Economics: Home Truths
Review: No Time Like Tomorrow
Poetry: Silent Note
The Locker Room
Canberra Six in Dock
Lawyers for the four companies concerned have asked for more time to respond to charges over the collapse of a jet hangar at Canberra Airport last year - a hanger that was used to house the Prime Minister's VIP jet.
The companies that have been charged face fines of several hundred thousand dollars for what the Canberra Times reported as the territory's "worst ever industrial accident".
Unions have welcomed the investigation into the hangar collapse, which could have been much worse. Many lives were saved only because many of the workers on the site were at lunch when the accident happened.
"We welcome an inquiry to get to the bottom of what happened," says CFMEU ACT Assistant Secretary Glenn Parry. "Not necessarily to see people get pinged but to find out why it happened so that it doesn't happen again.
Stronger OHS Laws
The news comes as new occupational health and safety laws came into effect in the ACT despite a loud campaign by local businesses and the territory's Liberal opposition.
The new laws give unions 'right of entry' into workplaces to ensure that safety conditions are up to scratch.
Even as the laws were being passed ACT unions came across a building site that has been labelled "an accident waiting to happen".
Scaffolding had been erected within centimetres of live powerlines and a complete absence of harnesses was accompanied by "fall traps everywhere".
Even the scaffolding had been erected with gaps in the planks.
"It highlights the need for unions to have access to these jobs," says Parry. "It makes you wonder if [employers] are paying any notice to the new laws."
The CFMEU has welcomed the new laws, coming on the back of the ACT Government enacting industrial manslaughter legislation.
"There's been more discussion of safety issues since the industrial manslaughter laws came in than in the previous 30 years I've been in the ACT," says Parry.
ACT WorkCover issued three prohibition notices for serious safety breaches at the site and seven improvement notices.
The trial of those charged in relation to the Canberra Airport hangar collapse is continuing.
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