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Issue #1792      August 30, 2017

Exploitation Updates

Queensland unions have welcomed the state government’s move to create the new offence of industrial manslaughter to deter negligent employers who operate unsafe workplaces. The new offence is one of 58 recommendations from a wide-ranging review into workplace deaths, to which unions made numerous submissions. Queensland Council of Unions general secretary Ros McLennan said this new offence would be a deterrent to make sure that companies don’t cut corners and put profits ahead of people. Last year in Queensland there were 40 workplace fatalities notified to authorities. “There’s nothing more important than workers coming home safe after a day’s work,” said McLennan. “We have long called for tougher offences to make sure that dodgy bosses and their companies don’t just get a slap on the wrist if their negligent actions have led to a workplace fatality,” she said. Under the proposed laws introduced into State Parliament last week, the maximum penalty for industrial manslaughter will be 20 years imprisonment for an individual, with a maximum fine of $10 million for a corporate offender. After these laws are passed, Queensland will be the first state in Australia to have industrial manslaughter laws. The Australian Capital Territory also has similar laws.

The livelihoods of 190 workers are hanging in the balance after multinational mining giant Glencore took the extraordinary step last week of locking out its permanent workforce at the Oaky North mine for a further 14 days. It brought to a total of 51 days Glencore has locked the workers out in the current dispute. On August 22, 190 workers from the mine were set to return to work. However, at 6 am the company emailed the workers to tell them they would be locked out for a further 14 days. The extended lockout comes as Glencore records mega profits from coal operations. CFMEU Mining Division national president Tony Maher said the company was out of control. “It absolutely beggars belief that a foreign owned company can lock out workers for such an extended period of time, for no reason, and with no consequences. Their actions are even more staggering given their mega profits just posted.” Glencore’s Australian coal operations revenue jumped from US$1.77 billion to US$3.1 billion in the last half year. “And their cash profit on every tonne of coal produced was around 41 percent. Everything they have done over the past few months has been for one purpose – to break the workforce and bring in cheap contractors.” Over the past three months, Glencore has:

  • Rejected a proposal by the workers to roll over their agreement for two years with a 0% pay increase.
  • Stripped away 50% of working conditions from a version of an agreement that 99 per cent of the Oaky North mine’s workforce previously voted down in a ballot called by the company.
  • Attempted to stop the workers from a peaceful and legal picket at the front gates of the mine, forcing them to the Magistrates Court to have the picket line reinstated.

Next article – Dingo

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