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Issue #1759      November 30, 2016

Workplace deaths

“Get out of jail free”

The CFMEU Mining and Energy Division has condemned as insulting a fine handed down to mining giant Anglo American after the company pleaded guilty to the death of worker Paul McGuire at its Grasstree mine, North-West of Rockhampton.

CFMEU Queensland District president, Stephen Smyth, said Anglo was given a get out of jail free card and literally got away with murder because of the absolute inadequacies in the present system.

“That Anglo could plead guilty for disregarding safety obligations that resulted in the death of Paul McGuire and be given a paltry fine of only $137,000 is an offence to every worker in this country,” said Smyth.

“This decision is cheap for murder and tells every unscrupulous employer that the life of a worker is not valuable – it certainly doesn’t even come close to bringing justice to a grieving family.

“If you kill a worker, you should go to jail. Workers deserve to know their lives are not being put at risk when they head to work – and their families should know their loved ones will return home.”

The union says Anglo is a global mining giant and that the fine is not even a blip on their radar. “What will they learn from this lesson?” asked Smyth. “Nothing – they will keep putting the health and safety of workers at risk.

“We have seen far too many workers killed and injured in the workplace because of reckless and irresponsible decisions made by management at the mine site, yet no one has ever been properly held to account. We have had hundreds of coal miners killed in Queensland’s mines and no one has served a single day in jail for those industrial murders and it’s time this was stopped.

“Anglo engaged in a dirty deal that saw negligent culprits walk free while a young family mourns at the loss of their father. The pain Paul’s family feels will last a lifetime – our hearts go out to Paul’s family and friends – we cannot let this happen again.”

The CFMEU is “bitterly disappointed” in this decision to drop the charges and say it once again demonstrates to workers that these companies can continue to cut corners at the expense of workers’ safety with no fear of being properly held to account.

“The Queensland government must act immediately to strengthen punitive action towards employers who break the law – employers need to know negligence that kills workers will not be tolerated,” said Smyth.

Next article – Inquiry delivers ... for banks

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