Perth workers rally against safety changes


Perth workers rally against safety changes

By Anthony Benbow

PERTH — More than 1500 workers rallied on the steps of Parliament House on November 16. The WA Trades and Labour Council organised the rally in opposition to the Court government's proposed amendments to the Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Act.

The amendments, currently before parliament, move resolution of health and safety issues into the legal system, away from workplace and industrial control. Workers will have less say on what issues are relevant in the workplace, and election of health and safety reps will be controlled by the Electoral Commission rather than by each work site.

Speakers from the TLC and several unions, as well as an ALP member of parliament, outlined the details and effects of the bill. TLC assistant secretary Tony Cooke referred to the nearly 200 WA workers killed on the job since the mid-1980s, highlighting the need for more health and safety resources, rather than the delays and cutbacks inherent in the proposed new legislation.

A motion was passed unanimously calling for withdrawal of the amendments; improvements at workplace level that involve cooperation; more field inspectors; no health and safety "magistrates"; government support for healthy and safe workplaces; a conference of affected organisations to discuss the issues further; removal of industrial relations minister Graham Kierath.