||Issue No. 248||26 November 2004|
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
Pee Pole Shame
Latham Is A Scapegoat
What a Banker
Commonwealth Bank CEO David Murray launched a blistering attack on NSW’s OH&S regime, describing proposed gaol sentences for killer bosses as "absolutely abominable".
He described the existing system that allows successful prosecutors to recoup costs as "corrupt".
Research done by Unions NSW reveals over the last 20 years the 'moiety' paid to all unions combined for successful OH&S actions amounted to less than Murray's salary for one year.
Under state law, unions have been able to charge employers with health and safety offences since the 1940's.
In recent year, the Finance Sector Union has launched a number of successful actions against banks.
Last year the ANZ pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety of workers after an armed robbery at its Brookvale branch. The court heard the company had ignored repeated warnings about the risks posed to staff and customers.
Murray's Commonwealth Bank recently pleaded guilty to an OH&S offence and faces at least three other counts.
The NSW government agreed to make employers criminally liable for deaths at their workplaces when it could be proved they were personally culpable.
The proposed law change came in response to widespread agitation over the building industry deaths of teenagers Dean McGoldrick and Joel Exner.
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson says Murray's aggressive attack
on workplace fatality laws only underlines how useful they will be in changing executive behaviour.
"The issue for banks is that there have been several successful prosecutions under safety laws against banks whose failure to invest in security has allowed bank robberies to occur, causing injury to staff," Robertson said.
"In every instance, the union has shown the bank had been warned about security failures but refused to act to make the bank's safer."
"Those fines have been absorbed by banks with little public comment, it is only now that senior executives and directors face criminal charges, that they are kicking up a fuss."
He described Murray's opposition to laws intended to make banks safer for employees and customers as "predictable".
Robertson said he was unaware of a single complaint about any union having abused the right to launch OH&S prosecutions.
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