||Issue No. 305||05 May 2006|
Contract With Australia
Interview: Out of the Bedroom
Industrial: Cloak and Dagger
Legal: The Fantasy of Choice
Politics: Labor Pains
Economics: Economics and the Public Purpose
Corporate: House of Horrors
History: Clash Of Cultures
International: Childs Play
Culture: Folk You Mate!
Review: Last Holeproof Hero
The Locker Room
Andrews Axes Safety
In the wake of the Minister's attempts to score political points off the Beaconsfield mining tragedy, he is being urged to “fess up” on what WorkChoices will mean for workplace safety.
CFMEU assistant national secretary, Dave Noonan, says Andrews law specifically ...
- makes it an offence to include union OH&S training in agreements, even where the employer agrees, and
- provides for $33,000 fines if workers ask for paid leave to attend training meetings, either run by unions or attended by union members
Noonan says, traditionally, in high-risk occupations, including construction, that's exactly where the bulk of OH&S training is done.
"What (Opposition Leader) Kim Beazley said during the week is demonstrably true," Noonan says. "It's there, in black and white, in Andrews' own legislation.
"For Kevin Andrews to play semantics with workers lives, like this, is a disgrace."
Andrews' own anti-worker attack dog, the Office of the Employment Advocate, appears to have sided with Noonan and Beazley.
It has been objecting to workplace agreements on the grounds that OH&S clauses are "prohibited content", under Andrews' new regime.
As recently as April 19, the OEA wrote to Newslands Coal, in Queensland, objecting to an agreement with a clause that allowed workers to attend union-backed safety courses.
Noonan says the reality for construction is that if unions are forbidden from running health and safety training, workers won't be trained.
Currently, across Australia, the CFMEU runs safety inductions for new starters and a myriad of safety training courses, including modules on asbestos removal, safe scaffolding and rigging, safe use of equipment including cranes, material hoists and elevated work platforms; specialist safety rep training, and first aid.
"Unions have made occupational health and safety their priority because we have seen members and workmates die and be horribly injured," he said.
"Thousands and thousands of workers, in our industry, have undergone union occupational health and safety training, along with vocational training.
"We have been successful, over the years, in building health and safety into the fabric of our industry."
Noonan said, if anything, Beazley's criticism of WorkChoices, on OH&S grounds, did not go far enough.
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