define('DISABLE_WP_CRON', true); Grocon OHS? & OHS International Memorial Day april 28th | Chris White Online

Grocon OHS? & OHS International Memorial Day april 28th

The B.I.G. Unions are conducting a rally and march regarding the developing and unsatisfactory situations concerning safety on Victorian building sites.
Location: Swanston St, at Grocon Wall, opposite CFMEU
Date: Tues April 30 Time: 10:00am Bring: Flags
Update Protest brings city to a standstill April 30, 2013 – 11:20AM Clay Lucas

Up to 10,000 unionists have brought the Melbourne CBD to a standstill in a protest against construction company Grocon.

The rally has been organised by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and is having an impact on many city tram routes.

Thousands of building industry workers and unionists have turned out for the rally, which began at 10am at Trades Hall in Carlton.
Protesters at the scene of the wall collapse in Swanston Street.

It stopped at Grocon’s CUB site in Swanston Street – where three pedestrians, including a teenage brother and sister, were killed when a wall collapsed – before heading to the offices of WorkSafe.

The crowd also stopped at Grocon’s Lonsdale Street Emporium site and observed a minute’s silence for crane driver Billy Ramsay, who fell to his death from a crane at the site in February. The reason for his fall is still unclear.

The protest affected many city tram routes, with commuters forced to walk. Yarra Trams said the disruptions had now cleared however.
The rally moves along Swanston Street.

Grocon released a statement criticising the CFMEU, state’s biggest building union, over the rally, which targets Grocon’s safety record.

WorkSafe is among four organisations investigating the collapse, but the union argues it is already showing signs of covering up the failures that led to the wall’s collapse. WorkSafe rejects the accusations, this morning releasing a statement saying its investigation would take much more time.

“Given the complexity of the task it remains in its relatively early stages and will take some time to complete,” the statement read.

“WorkSafe accepts that the tragic circumstances of the deaths of Alexander and Bridget Jones and Marie-Faith Fiawoo create a strong desire for immediate answers, but this desire cannot jeopardise a comprehensive and thorough investigation.”

Premier Denis Napthine has condemned this morning’s march, saying that politicising the three deaths at the CUB site was “disgusting” and “beneath contempt”.

And a statement released by Grocon this morning attacks the CFMEU and defends the builder’s safety record.

“[It] is among the best in the construction industry,” the statement read. “Sadly the union is happy to misrepresent that fact and rally in the name of safety when its real motivation is quite different …

This rally is the next phase in what the CFMEU has publicly boasted is ‘a military operation’ to ‘smash Grocon’.”

Building industry workers who attend today’s rally targeting builder Grocon and safety regulator WorkSafe have been warned they face fines of up to $10,000 if they turn up without their employer’s permission.

It comes as the CFMEU releases an inflammatory DVD targeting Grocon over safety issues, which will be sent to every member of Federal Parliament and to the builder’s key financial backers.

The DVD accuses Grocon of risking employees’ lives. Grocon yesterday declined to comment on the DVD.

The 15-minute film includes footage of a tarpaulin covering what appear to be bodies at the site of March’s fatal CUB site wall collapse in Swanston Street.

A Grocon spokesman said the company was not clear what impact this morning’s protest would have on work at its $290 million Lonsdale Street development.

That site was the focus last year of a blockade that stopped work and led to Grocon launching a $10.5 million Supreme Court damages claim against the building union.

A government spokesman warned that the union and the rally should not seek to disrupt city construction sites or anyone else going about their business.

Federal Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten said on Friday that too many Australians were dying at work, but that protesters taking part in the rally needed to respect workplace laws.

“In terms of the merits of a protest or otherwise on workplace safety, what I would say is, one, no one should be breaking any industrial laws, full stop,” he said.

The federal industry regulator, Fair Work Building and Construction, on Monday issued a warning to both workers and employers. Acting director Brian Corney said employees who attended the rally needed permission from their employer before leaving a worksite.” end

There have been four people killed on Grocon building sites in Melbourne this year, including three pedestrians crushed by the Swanston Street CUB site wall collapse just before Easter.My tram stopped outside the site when I was in Melbourne.
Rally for Safety on Grocon sites

The march begins at Trades Hall in Victoria Street, and will proceed to the Swanston Street site of last month’s tragedy for a minute’s silence as a sign of respect.

It will then head to Grocon’s Emporium site where a crane operator was killed earlier this year for another minute’s silence before moving on to WorkSafe Head Offices in Exhibition Street.

Grocon’s poor safety record has been of serious concern to the CFMEU for some time.

As well as the recent deaths of three passers-by, a list of serious incidents in Victoria over the past 6 months shows continuing crane operations in high winds; a worker being skewered on reo; a blowout while tensioning slab, formwork collapse during concrete pour. (See CFMEU VIC website ) There have also been issues with insecure scaffolding and asbestos on a Sydney Grocon job.

CFMEU Construction National Secretary Dave Noonan challenges Daniel Grollo’s response to these concerns: Investigating the Wall Collapse, Today Show Channel 9 TV Friday 26/04/2013
‘Grocon’s Safety Failures’ – the Age 25/04/2013

Watch this important 9news video on the Melbourne ‘Wall collapse” debate between Dave Nunan CFMEU and Grollo CEO of Grocon

See my earlier post
Age article

SP Newsletter No.434 view: “If a fictional movie had been made about the dispute between the construction union (CFMEU) and building giant Grocon, the lead parts would revolve around the two respective leaders, John Setka from the CFMEU and Daniel Grollo from Grocon.

If a scene included a fatal industrial accident occurring right across the road from the union headquarters, with Setka pushing up hoarding to attempt to save the lives of the injured, it would have been rejected as ‘too Hollywood’. Yet this is exactly what occurred in Melbourne on March 28 when oversized, illegally erected hoarding acted as a sail in high winds and dragged over a brick wall onto busy Swanston Street in the Melbourne CBD. Subsequently three pedestrians were killed.

The tragedy has destroyed what was left of the brand name of Grocon and underlined the view of most Victorians that this company is a danger to the health and safety of its workers and even bystanders. The The fact the union, the Coroner’s Office, and the police all now have their own separate investigations into the Swanston Street tragedy.

Grocon’s attitude to safety is superficial to say the least. Relatively minor safety checks such as site inductions and hardhats are emphasised over genuine issues such as working in high winds or safety representatives elected by workers rather than stooges hand-picked by the boss.

There has been a string of serious incidents on Grocon sites in the lead up to the March 28 tragedy. Yet the rhetoric of Grocon company literature is both evil and cynical in its self-praise for its safety standards. For example a publicity piece “The Grocon Culture” claims they have “an excellent safety performance…which serves as a useful marketing tool in a business environment increasingly sensitive to sustainable business practices and social responsibility.”

On Grocon sites the reality is prison warden-style management pushing atomised and scared employees to work in all weathers, often with inadequate fall protection and no industrial or safety representation.

The CFMEU have an ongoing dispute with Grocon. They are attempting to force the company to allow their workers to elect their own on-site safety reps, as is the case with the vast majority of builders in commercial construction in Victoria.

This dispute flared up most prominently at the Myer job in central Melbourne late last year, where at one stage 1,000 police were used to break a picket line at the site. Now the industrial action is more sporadic, with Grocon claiming the union are systematically targeting their access to concrete on their Melbourne jobs.

The rumour mill in the industry is that Grocon are in dire financial straits and very much over-leveraged.

Many of Grocon’s jobs are state government contracts issued by the previous ALP administration.

Disappointingly the union is still affiliated to the ALP and continues to donate millions of dollars to ALP election campaigns. A basic non-negotiable demand of the CFMEU must be that any future ALP state government refuses to give contracts to Grocon on the basis of their poor attitude to job safety.

Instead of pumping hard earned union members’ money into the ALP, the CFMEU should unite with other progressive unions and community groups to form a new party for working people.

This dispute with Grocon is a potential game-changer. With tighter margins and a slowing economy, building companies resent more than ever the cost of decent safety standards. If Grocon survives their current dramas and continues to ignore safety standards, other companies will try to follow suit.

On the other hand, a defeat for Grocon would be a much needed boost for building workers safety and the union movement in general. This is just what is needed as the economy slows and political tensions are set to rise.

The Socialist Party urges all of our supporters in Melbourne to attend the rally against Grocon this Tuesday April 30 at 10am. Meet out the front of the CFMEU offices, 500 Swanston Street in the city.”

Update: Unions have a point against Grocon

OHS International Memorial Day April 28th

OHS at your workplace – send us your solidarity statements
from Australia Asia Worker Links
The 28 of April is when workers and trade unions around the world mark the International Commemoration Day (ICD) for Dead and Injured Workers.

The day marks the right of workers to a safe and healthy workplace.

Millions of workers either die or get sick every year due to unsafe working conditions.Please send information about planned events to Anabella Rosember at ITUC.

from the IUTC
Worldwide, hundreds of thousands die in workplace “accidents”. Millions die of occupational diseases. Every year.
Union organisation is the remedy. Prevention is the only cure.


Introduction to the National Workers Memorial

Message from the Prime Minister, the Hon. Julia Gillard MP

I am pleased there is now a place in our National Capital honouring Australians who have died as a result of work-related accidents, incidents or disease. The National Workers Memorial is a place to reflect and share experiences of love and loss. It also serves as a reminder of the ongoing efforts to improve workplace safety and ensure everyone returns home at the end of their working day.

I hope the Australian community will engage with this memorial and use it as a community gathering place to recognise and celebrate the vital contribution and significant achievements of Australian workers to the building of this nation.

I encourage all those who have an opportunity to influence safety at work –including business leaders, employers, workers and their representatives – to work together to improve health and safety outcomes. This cooperation is essential in helping to prevent work-related accidents, incidents and disease. Read more

From Kim Sattler: Come along to the Inauguration of the National Workers Memorial in Canberra on Sunday at 11am on International Day of Mourning. Lest we forget ! King’s Park opposite the Carillion . Big BBQ with families after the ceremony!

Protests Over Bangladesh Disaster Turn Violent


DHAKA, Bangladesh—Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at tens of thousands of garment workers who took to the streets of Bangladesh’s capital Friday to protest the deadly collapse of a factory complex this week. A garment worker rescued from the ruins

The death toll from the collapse Wednesday of the Rana Plaza, an eight-story building housing garment factories, rose to around 300, making it the nation’s deadliest industrial accident.

Rescuers digging with drills, shovels and their bare hands said many dead bodies were believed to still be under the wreckage of Rana Plaza.

Public anger over the collapse has swelled in recent days amid reports from employees that they were threatened by factory officials to return to work Wednesday despite concerns about the building’s safety.

Most factories in Dhaka, the hub of Bangladesh’s giant garment business, have remained closed since the accident as workers went on strike over safety conditions….

Bangladesh’s government has promised to take action
to improve factory safety. In March, the ministry of labor and employment, international labor unions and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association adopted a national action plan on fire safety. Plans included modernizing equipment, overhauling fire-safety and building-safety laws, and increasing inspections….

John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch,
said the tragedy highlighted concerns about labor rights in Bangladesh. “Had one or more of the Rana Plaza factories been unionized, its workers would have been in a position to refuse to enter the building on Wednesday morning, and thus save their lives,” he said.

Labor-rights activists said laws remain weak and implementation uneven in a country where factory owners, many of whom are also local politicians or members of Parliament, maintain political clout. No factory owner has been charged over a worker death in Bangladesh. Read whole article.

more on the protests NYT

Update: A most interesting read

International Workers’ Memorial Day from the AEU
Remember the dead; fight for the living

International Workers’ Memorial Day is on April 28 every year – a global union campaign day to remember the dead and to fight for safer‚ healthier‚ better work.

It marks the day when workers all over the world stop for a minute to mourn for those who have died as a result of work‚ but also to give notice that we are not going to give up the fight.
The theme for 2013 is again Unions make work safer and has focus on asbestos.

Austrlaia has one of the highest incidences of mesothelioma in the world. Its only known cause is asbestos with 90% of all cases in men attributed to occupational exposure.

Unions aim for an asbestos-free Australia by 2030.

from AMWU

As at 18 April 2013, 46 Australian workers have been killed while at work.

The 2013 international theme is “Unions make work safer” – acknowledging the crucial role played by trade unions, strong regulation and effective enforcement in securing safer workplaces.

Sydney, Darling Harbour
Sunday 28th April 2013
11:45am for 12:00 noon service.
Reflection Park, Little Pier Street,
Darling Harbour (beside Sydney Entertainment Centre)
Central Coast Monday 29th April 2013
Monday 29th April 2013
At 11:45 am for 12 noon service
Ourimbah Wall of Remembrance,
8 Chittaway Road, Ourimbah

Queensland Wednesday 24th April 2013
10 am, Wednesday 24 April
Meet at Emma Miller Place
(Roma Street Forum)
South Australia Sunday 28th April
Church Service at 3.30pm
Pilgrim Uniting Church, 12 Flinders Street, Adelaide

A balloon release and afternoon tea after the service.

Tasmania Sunday 28th April 2013
A day of remembrance and action
11am Sunday, April 28, 2013
Parliament House Lawn, Hobart

Western Australia Sunday 28th April 2013
10:30am, Solidarity Park,
cnr Parliament Place and Harvest Tce,
West Perth

Victoria Monday 29th April 2013
VTHC with the ACTU and Asbestos Campaigners
At the ‘Remembrance Rock’, Corner Victoria and Lygon Streets,
Carlton South. The ceremony will commence at 10.30am
Darwin to be advised

From the ACTU Safe at Work

From US Workers Memorial Day 2013 April 28, 2013

“pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living” Marry Harris “Mother” Jones 1837 – 1930

Workers memorial day is a commemoration day that is celebrated in the U.S and abroad each year on April 28th. It is meant to remember those who have been killed or left disabled as a result of an injury suffered at work. It’s an opportunity to recognize the preventable nature of most workplace accidents and bring greater awareness to safety campaigns and legislation.
Read here

US Department Labour Memorial Day


Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

Comments are closed.