Interview: Rock Solid
Industrial: Eight Simple Rules for Employing My Teenage Daughter
Politics: The Johnnie Code
Energy: Fission Fantasies
History: All The Way With Clarrie O'Shea
International: Closer to Home
Economics: Taking the Fizz
Unions: Stronger Together
Review: Montezuma's Revenge
Poetry: Fair Go Gone
The Locker Room
When the Truth Hurts
The Beaconsfield Declaration
We, the members of the AWU from the Beaconsfield Mine, recognise that mining is a hard way of life. But it is also a way of life that builds deep bonds between men, their families, and their communities.
The people of Beaconsfield have always understood the power of the ties that bind us. We believe that after the great story of survival and rescue that put Beaconsfield on the map, all Australians have come to understand it too.
It was the power of mateship, community and teamwork that drove the tremendous effort behind the rescue and made sure we would stop at nothing until our mates were out of the ground.
And it was our ability to rely on each other, our families, our community and our union which contributed to the great result we celebrate today. We take pride in that achievement.
We want to thank the Australian public for their ongoing support and we welcome today's opportunity to come to Canberra, the home of our democracy and national parliament, to give thanks for the rescue of our two colleagues, and also to remember the life of Larry Knight.
We particularly welcome the involvement of all sides of politics in today's reception.
But we also come with a message to the Parliament of Australia and the Government of Australia.
Most of us are likely to lose our jobs within the next two weeks.
None of us is losing our employment because of anything we ourselves have done as miners.
We are losing our jobs because, using the current methods, the Beaconsfield mine is not safe. And we still await a satisfactory explanation for the Anzac Day rock-fall.
We see the events since Anzac Day against a background of the resources boom in Australia which continues to create wealth for our nation. But over the past eight years more than 110 workers have died in Australian mines and many, many more have died at work in other industries.
We believe every worker has the right to return home from work safely every day. And we believe that the right to occupational health and safety is a direct result of union involvement in the workplace.
Unions and union training improve workplace safety. We are concerned that the Federal Government's new industrial laws attack the role of unions in our workplace, and other workplaces around Australia, and in so doing will make workplaces less safe.
We believe that Occupational Health and Safety laws are too important to be politicised and should not become vehicles for attacking the role of unions in the workplace.
Today, therefore, we call on Prime Minister John Howard and his Workplace Minister Kevin Andrews to lift their ban on workplace agreements that give miners, and millions of other working Australians, access to union OH and S training and work-time meetings.
Our union, the AWU, is presently negotiating with our employer new union workplace oh and s training for our mine. We have paid union meetings about safety.
But under the Government's new IR laws we cannot have that agreement legally recognised. If we even ask for that agreement to be registered and legally enforceable, our union can be fined $33,000 and each of us as miners could face government fines of $6,600.
So we say to the federal government - repeal these laws that criminalise our efforts to ensure our union and our voices are heard in protecting safety at our workplace.
We thank you for all your support and we thank the Australian parliament for giving us this reception. But when the celebrations are over and we fly home to our uncertain future, we want to make sure that the Beaconsfield mine collapse leaves a lasting legacy - a legacy of safety for the people like us who work in this industry.
That is why we have made this statement today and why we hope all of you, including the federal government will not just listen but also act.
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