||Issue No. 253||25 February 2005|
And The Battle Begins
Economics: Super Seduction
Interview: Bono and Me
Unions: The Eight Hour Day and the Holy Spirit
Technology: From Widgets to Digits
Education: Dumb and Dumber
Health: No Place for the Young
History: The Work-In That Changed a Nation
Review: Dare to Win
Poetry: Labor's Dreaming
The Locker Room
Just One Thing
No Dosh For Rupert
Executions Not Fines
Howard Needs To Know
Mine Managers in Denial
Commenting on a significant increase in inuries at Zinefex's Rosebery mine, manager Fran Burgess, laid the blame on "miners' behaviour".
"They were very concerned about their entitlements; it reflected in their behaviour," Burgess said.
The explanation has been rejected by the AWU, which pointed to lack of staff, long shifts, heat and lack of ventilation as major safety problems.
"It's ridiculous to tie the entitlements issue to the injuries," says Ian Wakefield, Australian Workers Union (AWU) state secretary. "What did the company do to alleviate their concerns?
"They need to look at the real causes of these incidents."
Mine workers want shifts reduced from twelve to 10 hours to address concerns over fatigue related injuries.
The mine went through a period of retrenchments that saw approximately 20 workers laid off from a workforce of 160.
A Zinefex survey showed that 49 percent of its miners did not always feel safe at work.
In 2004 there were 100 injuries recorded at the zinc mine in February, 95 in March, and 80 in April.
Closed Coroner's Inquiries Opened
Meanwhile, A grieving widow's unanswered questions and a union campaign have moved to increase transparency over workplace fatalities.
Pressure from Tasmanian workers and their families has seen the government move to ensure mandatory public inquests are held into workplace deaths.
The move follows the closed inquiry held into the death of Ray Bonney at the Hercules mine on Tasmania's west coast in June 1999.
Bonney's family called for an open inquiry to resolve questions raised after the coroner handed down a record of investigation in 2002. That investigation found that Bonney had been instrumental in his own death.
Ray Bonney's widow Caroline told Tasmanian media that the closed inquiry, which did not interview any of Bonney's workmates, raised more questions than it answered.
"Five years is too long without any answers," says Caroline Bonney. "I still feel that we don't know what happened that day or why Ray is dead."
The Tasmanian Attorney-General Judy Jackson has confirmed that, in an Australian first, the Tasmanian Government will introduce an amendment to the Coroners Act to ensure that workplace deaths are the subjects of Coronial Inquests.
The Tasmanian Branch of the AWU has welcomed the move after conducting a long campaign for a more transparent system.
"The message to employers is clear," says Tasmanian AWU secretary Ian Wakefield. "If a fatality occurs in their workplace they will need to demonstrate that they have provided a safe and responsible workplace.
"The AWU believes the capacity to test evidence being considered by the Coroner is fundamental to natural justice.
"Unfortunately at this stage this matter hasn't helped the Bonney family.
"Discussions are ongoing with the Attorney Generals Department in relation to that inquest."
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