Pike victim's mum joins union safety crusade

A MOTHER who lost her son in the Pike River mine disaster has featured in a union advertisement urging BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance to ensure mine safety does not fall into the sole control of mine managers.
Pike victim's mum joins union safety crusade Pike victim's mum joins union safety crusade Pike victim's mum joins union safety crusade Pike victim's mum joins union safety crusade Pike victim's mum joins union safety crusade

Underground at the Pike River mine months before tragedy struck in November, 2010. Image courtesy of PRC.

Lauren Barrett

The ad comes as the protracted negotiations between unions and management drag into the fifteenth month and increasingly focus on the issue of control of safety on site.

Josh Ufer was one of 29 men who died after an explosion ripped through New Zealand’s Pike River mine on November 19, 2010.

Josh’s mother, Joanne Ufer, featured in the advertisement which went to air in Central Queensland earlier this week.

In the ad titled “Fair go BHP, don’t undermine our safety”, Ufer singles out BMA, which has been stuck in the long-running negotiations with Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union over the latest version of the enterprise agreement.

Ufer urges the giant miner not to comprise on safety arrangements at the mine, reminding the company safety is not a role just mine managers should be responsible of.

“Mine safety is a matter of life and death,” she says.

“It is just too important to be handed over just to management.”

During the ad, Ufer said she felt “deeply shocked” by the evidence of negligence at the mine which has emerged over recent months at the Royal Commission Inquiry into the Pike River mine disaster.

“I never want any other family to have to go through what we have,” she laments.

Ufer told the Daily Mercury the evidence revealed at the Pike River Royal Commission proved the mine disaster could have been avoided.

“If these things had been noted or not overlooked ... [Josh and his co-workers] may not have died.

“We don't want to see that happen here.”

BMA has been stuck in a deadlock with the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and other unions for more than 15 months.

The dispute has led to industrial action around its central Queensland operations.

The main sticking points for the workers are housing, safety representatives and equal pay for equal work.