||Issue No. 227||02 July 2004|
A Place To Call Home
Interview: Power and the Passion
Unions: Tackling the Heavy Hitters
Industrial: Seeing the Forest For The Wood
Housing: Home Truths
International: Boycott Busters
Economics: Ideology and Free Trade
History: Long Shadow of a Forgotten Man
Review: Chewing the Fat
Poetry: Dear John
The Locker Room
The ICAC investigation was launched after the Cole Royal Commission and the Building Industry Taskforce failed to address CFMEU allegations that "corrupt practices" were killing workers in the industry.
Workcover has used accredited outside "assessors" to ensure operators of heavy machinery are competent. The corruption allegations centre on kickbacks to the "privatised" assessors to pass operators who may have not been properly trained.
In a report handed down last week, the ICAC found thousands of competency certificates had been corruptly issued.
It recommended criminal charges be brought against six assessors, a trainer, and the boss of an Illawarra crane company.
"Assessment and certification processes for operators are fundamental to ensuring that only competent people operate potentially dangerous machinery," says the ICAC report. "When the procedures for minimising and controlling risks are compromised through corrupt practice the potential for harmful consequence escalates."
Michael Boland died while working as a dogman on a crane that struck overhead powerlines at Heathcote on Sydney's southern outskirts, last year. Charges have been recommended against his boss, Terry Donald Whyte, managing director of Whyco Crane Services, for allegedly giving false or misleading evidence to the ICAC inquiry, which examined the circumstances of Boland's death.
"We can put this down to outsourcing and cost cutting," says Brian Parker from the CFMEU. "WorkCover should take the assessor role back. We feel these issues should be controlled by the government.
"The use of private assessors opens the door to corrupt practices."
Parker pointed to a rapid increase in injuries and accidents, as well as a number of crane rollovers and near misses prior to the inquiry.
"It's not just building workers whose lives are at risk, but the general public as well," he said.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption launched its probe after Parker went public with allegations that private assessors were taking kickbacks to issue certificates to operators who hadn't passed competency standards.
Union secretary, Andrew Ferguson, confirmed the complaints had been raised during the Cole Commission inquiry.
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