||Issue No. 278||26 August 2005|
A Secret Country
Interview: On Holiday
Unions: One Day Longer
Industrial: Never Mind the Bollocks
Politics: Spun Out
Economics: If the Grog Don't Get You ....
History: Taking a Stand
International: The Split
Legal: Pushing the Friendship
Poetry: Simple Subtractions
Review: Sydney Trashed
The Locker Room
Proof in the Pudding
Safeguards Already There
BHP Mining Cheap Labour
The AMWU has announced a campaign to win collective bargaining rights for more than 1000 people at the Olympic Dam site, in the South Australian wilderness, north of Woomera.
It followed last month's death of a 30-year-old worker in an underground explosion.
Last month's fatality at the BHP Billiton operation added to concerns over the impact of secret, individual contracts on workplace safety.
Seventeen deaths were recorded at BHP sites, last year, and a Western Australian government inquiry into three Pilbara fatalities was critical of the role played by AWAs.
National president, Julius Roe, says the AMWU wants to contact employees at Olympic Dam, 560 km north of Adelaide, especially newly-recruited foreign workers.
"We have little idea of what these people earn or their conditions because unions are aggressively kept out of Olympic Dam," Roe said.
"What we do know is the Filipinos are brought here on four year visas under which they are tied to their employers. Without oversight, it is a recipe for exploitation."
Roe said Olympic Dam was run "like an army camp", surrounded by wire and patrolled by guards, and management had made it clear unions were unwelcome.
"Then they complain that they can't get skilled workers. One of the reasons for that is it is an especially unattractive place to work when people don't have the protections of a collective agreement," Roe said.
"Everyone would benefit from a collective agreement that properly addressed safety and skills training."
AMWU South Australian representative, John Gresty, confirmed another foray into Roxby Downs was being planned.
Uranium is a touchy issue for the AMWU whose predecessor organisations were at the forefront of 1970s-80s opposition to exploitation of a resource that is a cornerstone of the nuclear industry.
The union accepts the reality of Australia's three mines policy but is strongly opposed to Howard Government moves for the wholesale mining and export of uranium.
"Given that the three mines are established, we have a responsibility to represent those workers," Roe said.
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|