||Issue No. 247||19 November 2004|
In Defence of Jeff
Interview: The Reich Stuff
Economics: Crime and Punishment
Environment: Beyond The Wedge
International: The End Of The Lucky Country
Safety: Tests Fail Tests
Politics: Labo(u)r Day
Human Rights: Arabian Lights
History: Labour's Titan
Review: Foxy Fiasco
Poetry: Then I Saw The Light
The Locker Room
Shawly we’ve heard enough
Decline of The American Empire
Miners Plunge Before The Beak
Four men were inside a transport vehicle when a steel cable snapped, sending them plunging down the mineshaft. Three of them jumped clear as it picked up speed and the fourth rode the run-away vehicle 150 metres to the bottom of the shaft, miraculously suffering only cuts and bruises.
Miners have described as "too little too late" a move by the NSW Department of Mineral Resources to prosecute former mine owner Powercoal over the incident that occurred at the Wyee mine on the NSW Central Coast in 1999.
"The Department of Mineral Resources record of prosecution is woeful," says CFMEU Mining Division president Tony Maher. "Their Queensland counterpart is the only one with a worse record.
"They've never prosecuted anyone.
"The NSW Department didn't even have a prosecution policy until 1998 when the union forced them to have one after the Gretley disaster.
"Mining has seen 2,500 deaths and only three successful company prosecutions and one instance where an individual was prosecuted."
"There's either an awful lot of acts of god or there's some significant breaches of mine safety."
Miners claim that the department generally only prosecutes when a death is involved, with many near misses and serious incidents going unpunished; a move that has been likened to "shutting the gate after the horse has bolted".
These incidents have left miners maimed with missing limbs and serious body injuries.
An investigation by the department into the Wyee incident found the faulty cable had been reported to management five months earlier, but it was not replaced as recommended.
The four miners involved were lucky not to have been killed in the incident.
Had the rope snapped on the return trip the transporter would have been carrying a large number of miners ending their shift.
The department's move to prosecute Powercor in the Industrial Relations Commission comes as a sentencing decision is expected soon over the Gretley disaster.
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