Australian Council of Trade Unions’ (ACTU) President Ged Kearney and Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union’s National Secretary (CFMEU) Michael O’Connor joined four workers and family members of people who were perished in the construction, mining and forestry jobs, at a service in Canberra to commemorate the International Workers’ Memorial Day, as part of the new “Stand up. Speak out. Come Home.” campaign.
The campaign, which was launched yesterday, highlights the importance of speaking up about the dangers of working in some of Australia’s least safe industries.
According to the media release by the CFMEU, the campaign features real life stories of lives lost and workers incapacitated in construction, mining and forestry jobs.
Statistics show a worker is seriously injured or dies every six minutes in the construction, mining and forestry sectors, and a rate that is 50% higher than for all other industries combined.
“Last year, 91 workers died in sectors our members work in — including 19 in construction and ten in mining. This year, 23 workers have already died in these sectors. Just this month we tragically lost two miners in the Hunter Valley. One of the most dangerous jobs you can have is as a construction labourer. They are killed at four times the rate of workers in all other jobs,” Michael O’Connor said.
“Too often, many workers feel they can’t speak out, or stand up to their employer — with devastating consequences. That’s why unions are vital. We will always take a stand so that workers can come home safely to what matters most. But our ability to stand up for safety is compromised by Federal Government witch-hunts on unions.”
ACTU President Ged Kearney said the international evidence was clear that trade unions save lives.
“Around the world, unionised workplaces experience fewer accidents and have better health and safety records. And it’s union campaigning that has built today’s workplace health and safety systems,” he said.
“Despite the dangers in the construction sector, the Federal Government wants to re-establish the ABCC which greatly restricts when workers and unions can act to address workplace health and safety risks.”