The Official Organ of LaborNET
click here to view the latest edition of Workers Online
The Official Organ of LaborNET
Free home delivery
Issue No. 265 27 May 2005  

Hit and Myth
John Howard came to power on the back of a myth about the sort of Australia we had once been; now he is creating a new myth about the sort of Australia we want to become.


Interview: Fortress NSW
NSW IR Minister John Della Bosca on how to win the battle for workers rights - and save the state system.

Unions: Fashions Afield
With new anti-sweatshop creations being paraded at this year's Australian Fashion Week, is equity the new black and are sweatshops the new fur? asks Tara de Boehmler.

Industrial: Pay Dirt
John Burgess argues that the flow-on effect from changing the minimum wage could be more than we bargained for.

Politics: Infrastructure Blues
With much attention given belatedly to the shortage of infrastructure, little attention has been given to the structure of infrastructure, writes Evan Jones

History: Big Day Out
Neale Towart looks back on the events that created the May Day heritage.

International: Making History
Hundreds of aid organisations, charities, trade unions and religious groups have formed a global alliance called “ Make Poverty History”.

Economics: The Fear Factor
The solution to skill shortages is intelligent planning, argues John Spoehr

Review: The Robots Revolt
New kids flick Robot uses our electronic friends to teach audiences that inbuilt obsolescence is just a state of mind, writes Tara de Boehmler

Poetry: The Corporation's Power
The idea of a corporations power that could cure any ill has inspired our resident bard, David Peetz, to verse.


 Sign or You're Gone

 Unions Back a Winner

 Howard Chases Nurses

 Victims Champ Joins Resistance

 Red and Green Blue

 Usual Suspects Lead Cheer Squad

 Ugly Australian On Charges

 Aussies Longer and Harder

 Guard Attached, Then Sacked

 Doh – Homero Loses Voice

 Bunbury Families Win Payouts

 Double Standards For Dads

 Libs Back 'Illegal' Rally

 TAFE Teaches A Lesson On Winning

 Activist’s What’s On!


The Soapbox
May Spray
Unions NSW secretary John Robertson delivered the annual May Day Toast - and warned it is no time to be comfortable and relaxed.

The Locker Room
A Rucking Good Time
Phil Doyle reveals many things, some of them useful

The Westie Wing
Our favourite MP, Ian West, is back to regale us with inside goss and intrigue from the Bearpit.

 One Hell Of A Job
 US Fan Mail
About Workers Online
Latest Issue
Print Latest Issue
Previous Issues
Advanced Search

other LaborNET sites

Labor Council of NSW
Vic Trades Hall Council
IT Workers Alliance
Unions on LaborNET
Evatt Foundation

Labor for Refugees



Ugly Australian On Charges

Minerals giant, BHP Billiton, will face four charges arising from last year’s death of AMWU member, James Wadley, in a horrific gas explosion at Port Hedland.

As Western Australian authorities confirmed charges would be laid under the state's Mines, Safety and Inspection laws, it was revealed Australia's largest company had recorded a staggering 32 "near fatalities" since Wadley, and two other workers, lost their lives.

BHP Billiton documents, seen by Workers Online, show the company has identified 32 "potential level four incidents" in the past 10 months.

In BHP-speak, level four equates to a "near fatality".

"Potentially fatal incidents are continuing to occur across all of our operations," the company's document concedes.

"The number of potential level four incidents recorded at BHPB Iron Ore since July, 2004, is as follows: Port and Rail 16; Mining 16."

A source, with years of mining industry experience, said some of the level four incidents recorded had endangered the safety of multiple workers.

This week's charges stem from a lengthy inquiry, conducted by Perth solicitor Mark Ritter, that found BHP's safety procedures had been compromised by its industrial relations policy.

In a scathing report, Ritter fingered AWAs at the centre of John Howard's industrial relations agenda.

Ritter found BHP Billiton's drive to individual contracts was a "factor which has impacted and continues to impact on the successful implementation of safety systems".

The inquiry was launched at union insistence, following the deaths of three workers at BHP Pilbarra sites, in the space of a month.

AMWU delegate, Corey Bentley, lost his life at a Port Hedland iron facility, on May 2, 2004. Following his death, company reps removed posters exhorting employees to "aim high, move fast", and graphically illustrating how far they had fallen behind million-tonne production targets.

Wadley died when a gas explosion tore through the nearby Boodarie hot briquetted plant. Royal Flying Doctor Service aircraft from Derby, Meetkatharra and Port Hedland were mobilised to transfer injured workers to hospitals.

On the same day, a 19-year-old apprentice had his head crushed at BHP's Ore Body 25, near Newman, by what the company described as "a piece of equipment".

AMWU state secretary, Jock Ferguson, welcomed the prosecutions and urged authorities to pursue them vigorously.

"This decision is vindication of Port Hedland workers who stood up and demanded an arms-length inquiry at a meeting we held up there, last year," Ferguson said.

"They wanted an inquiry because they believed BHP's production at all costs mentality was endangering their safety.

"Unfortunately, these charges are no help to James Wadley or his family. But, hopefully, they will encourage mining companies to start behaving responsibly.

"These employers have got to be made to understand that if they continue to treat safety in a cavalier manner, the law will come after them and make them pay."


*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 265 contents

email workers to a friend printer-friendly version latest breaking news from labornet

Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue

© 1999-2002 Workers Online
Workers Online is a resource for the Labour movement
provided by the Labor Council of NSW
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005

Powered by APT Solutions
Labor Council of NSW Workers Online