Reprisals for raising concerns about mine safety must stop

Image credit: Mining and Energy Union - CFMEU

The Mining and Energy Union has welcomed a report that found it is standard practice for mine workers to be penalised for voicing safety concerns.

The Queensland Parliament’s Inquiry into Coal Mining Industry Safety report confirms what is widely known in the Queensland coal mining industry: workers suffer retaliation if they express safety issues.

According to Steve Smyth, Queensland District President of the Mining and Energy Union, several significant recommendations must be backed up promptly by legislative reforms.

“In the last five years, we have seen six deaths on the Queensland coalfields where no one has been held responsible, no fines on companies, no disciplinary action for managers, we need these recommendations implemented immediately,” Smyth said.

Smyth stated that the report advises that the regulator increase its efforts, which is a no-brainer and should begin immediately.

“It calls out clear tension between high coal production targets and safety. And it also reinforces the important role of unions in upholding safety,” Smyth added.

Most significantly, Smyth said it explicitly acknowledges that repercussions for workers who raise safety concerns are common in the industry, and the report suggests new regulations to stop it. Smyth stated that the Palaszczuk Government should begin crafting these new laws immediately.

“We know coal workers fear being disciplined and sacked if they raise safety concerns, especially labour-hire workers,” he said.

Smyth added, “These measures need to be implemented urgently. Only in the last few weeks, we have seen a spate of dozer accidents leading to serious injuries, we have no time to waste.”