Casualisation of coal mining workforce can compromise safety: survey

NEARLY 90% of coal miners say casualisation of jobs at their work site has affected safety, a survey of 1000 Queensland coal miners conducted by the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union has found.
Casualisation of coal mining workforce can compromise safety: survey Casualisation of coal mining workforce can compromise safety: survey Casualisation of coal mining workforce can compromise safety: survey Casualisation of coal mining workforce can compromise safety: survey Casualisation of coal mining workforce can compromise safety: survey

Coal mining has experienced a widespread move away from permanent, direct employment by operators to casual jobs supplied by labour hire contractors over the past 10 years and permanent employees are a minority at many Queensland coal mines.

 

About four in 10 survey respondents said they feared reprisals if they spoke up about safety, increasing to six in 10 for casual mineworkers.

 

CFMEU Queensland District President Stephen Smyth said many mineworkers had experienced or witnessed retaliatory action over raising safety concerns, including casual workers finding they were suddenly no longer required.

 

"No-one is told that the reason they've been sacked or disciplined is for raising a concern over safety - but workers can see what is happening," he said.

 

"They are labelled as whingers and moved on or otherwise victimised. We need 100% of mineworkers to feel confident they can report safety issues without fear.

 

"These results reflect what we hear every day from mineworkers on the ground and they are a poor reflection on the industry. You can't have an insecure, vulnerable workforce and a ruthless focus on production and expect there will be no consequences for safety.

 

"With the state-wide safety reset entering its second week, it's obvious that some operators are taking it very seriously and allocating adequate time and effort, while others are glossing over the issues."

 

In a sentiment supported by many, one coal miner said the best way to improve safety was: "Give permanent shirts so people are not as stressed with the uncertainty of being sacked. They will have their minds on task, therefore improving safety and people won't be showing up to work sick, tired and unfit for work just so they don't miss a day's pay".

 

Eight in 10 workers nominated production being valued above safety as a top concern, with six in 10 saying they did not believe safety was the top priority for site managers.

 

Smyth said there was no room for complacency.

 

"It's clear that workers at the coal face don't believe companies are making safety their number one priority - operators must take this opportunity to show they are committed to change," he said.