Labor needs zero tolerance for bosses who kill workers

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I hope that when Kevin Rudd speaks of zero tolerance on lawlessness he means that bosses who kill workers with unsafe work practices will be jailed, and workers who have had their entitlements stripped away by employers, with the backing of the Howard government, will see justice.

That is why I joined the Labor Party and why I would still like to see it elected to office.

Since coming to power, the Howard government has put in place the most draconian set of industrial laws in the Western world.

Building workers now face massive fines for taking industrial action, even where that action is to fix safety problems, and they can be jailed for six months for refusing to answer questions from the Australian Building and Construction Commission about what happens at union meetings.

Yet, a negligent boss who kills a worker or robs entitlements from his employees still retains his right to silence. It is an appalling double standard.

I would like to tell the Labor Party how hard it is to represent workers under Howard's industrial laws. It's a story I intend telling them during the expulsion proceedings against me. For this reason I am not going to resign.

These are the real issues facing workers in the building and construction industry, and whether I remain in the ALP or not I will continue to campaign to protect the rights and entitlements of building workers.

[Joe McDonald is the WA CFMEU construction division assistant secretary. Abridged from his June 21 statement.]

Issue