Workers to strike over workplace deaths

Issue 

BY CHRIS LATHAM

PERTH — Four-thousand members of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) are expected to strike on September 8, demanding safer working conditions in the construction industry, following citywide stop work meetings on September 4 and 5.

The strike is part of an escalating campaign of industrial action that began when 1000 construction workers walked of the job on August 29 and occupied the foyer of the state Labor government's ministerial offices. Four days later, 350 workers on seven Perth building sites staged a 24-hour strike in protest at unsafe working conditions.

The demonstrations have been called in response three incidents. The first was the decision by the Builders Registration Board to drop charges of negligence against a builder on whose site a worker was killed in September 2002 in an accident.

CFMEU construction division assistant state secretary Joe McDonald, speaking at a Socialist Alliance-organised forum on August 30, said that WA employment protection minister John Kobelke had promised the union that the government would strip the builder of his ticket.

Instead, the builder had been allowed to continue operating. This is despite the CFMEU having to conduct 16 separate stoppages over unsafe work practices on the builder's site in the last 12 months.

The second incident was the decision by Transfield Engineering to appeal a conviction for the workplace death of construction worker Joseph Guagliardo in 2000. This appeal is holding up the compensation claim for Guagliardo's widow.

The final incident was the death on August 28 of a worker on a Robe River construction site, bringing to 23 the number of workers killed on construction sites in the last 14 months in WA.

From Green Left Weekly, September 10, 2003.

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