The Australian media on May 16 and 17, 2018 contained several articles about the dropping of a blackmailing case against two prominent trade unionists, John Setka (pictured right) and Shaun Reardon. There are many issues and allegations in this legal action which started from a contentious Royal Commission and an ongoing dispute between the CFMMEU and the Grocon construction company.
Some unionists, such as the ACTU Secretary, Sally McManus on ABC Radio, say that the current case was “all about safety”. It is not all about safety and such misrepresentation needs to be called out. The original dispute was over the election of Health and Safety Representatives (HSR) – whether these could be appointed by the company or the union. This quickly became about power and influence not specifically about workplace health and safety.
There is no doubt that Setka has a
Occupational health and safety advocates are pushing for safety management and strategies to refocus on people by talking about “people-centric” approaches and recalibrating legislation to re-emphasise prevention. This push parallels society’s frustration with political strategies that favour big business, the under-investment in education and health care systems and companies that announce record profits at the same time as sacking staff. That frustration is becoming accepted by political parties that are starting to apply more people-centric policies or by countries and States that are appointing representatives from outside the mainstream political organisations.
At a closing event for National Safe Work Month on 1 November 2017, WorkSafe Victoria’s CEO,
Being a member of a local safety group provides nuggets of occupational health and safety (OHS) information from speakers and members in a broad range of industries and occupations. The May 2017 meeting of the Central Safety Group at which Wayne Richards spoke provoked several OHS thoughts about safety, leadership and culture. One was that Transdev…
Every government releases a great deal of information, particularly around budget time and occupational health and safety (OHS) funding often gets missed in the overviews and media discussion. The Victorian Government’s budget papers (Budget Paper No. 3 – Service Delivery) for 2017 included A$3 million to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for
“Addressing occupational violence against health workers and workplace bullying” (page 78)
There is no doubt that such funding will help improve OHS but it also seems odd, given some of the recent incidents and riots, the corrections and prison services received no specific OHS funding. The introduction of “a trial of independent workplace facilitators” is also intriguing.
Continue reading “How will “independent workplace facilitators” improve OHS?”
The South Australian Branch of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) held a protest rally in Adelaide on 15 February 2017 in response to the political negotiations in Australia’s Parliament about the reintroduction of, what the union sees as, anti-union legislation. Throughout the rally’s presentations (available online through the CFMEU Facebook page), the issue of occupational health and safety (OHS) was raised and it is worth looking closely at what was said and the broader political and safety context.
The issues to be addressed in the protest rally included Senator Nick Xenophon’s “deal” with Prime Minister Turnbull that the CFMEU claims will:
- ” Make our workplaces less safe
- Put more overseas visa workers on our building sites
- Cut the number of apprentices in South Australia
- Threaten job security and increase casual jobs
- Fail to mandate Australian made products on construction sites”
After Joe McDonald opened the rally, the Secretary of the CFMEU SA, Aaron Cartledge (pictured above), spoke about how workers in South Australia had been dudded on safety because the health and safety representatives (HSRs) cannot call on external safety advisers to help them with an OHS matter. This may be the case but Cartledge’s comments illustrate a common perspective of trade unionists – a reluctance to consider safety management strategies other than those dependent on HSRs.