ETU calls for industrial manslaughter laws in wake of Inpex death

The Electrical Trades Union has called on the Gunner Government to urgently introduce industrial manslaughter laws in the wake of the tragic death of worker Carl Delaney at the Ichthys project in Darwin last week.

ETU Queensland and NT State Secretary Peter Ong said over the past four years the project had been plagued by a culture of fear and intimidation against workers who spoke out against safety issues– a culture which has worsened since the reintroduction of the ABCC.

He said industrial manslaughter legislation may be the only way to force companies such as Inpex, JKC and their contractors to fulfil their safety obligations to workers and prevent further tragedies occurring.

“We owe it to Carl and his family to make sure we fix the culture on this project and try and stop this culture from continuing on other construction sites,” he said.

“We call on the Northern Territory Government to strengthen their health and safety legislation, to audit NT Work Safe and introduce industrial manslaughter laws like those introduced in Queensland. The only thing that is going to stop these companies and big business from putting workers lives secondary to profits is the threat of going to jail for killing workers.”

When Unions were allowed on site the day after Carl’s death the area surrounding the fatality was closed off by Work Safe.

“What we found was instead of the whole site being shut down and JKC and Inpex ordering a complete full site audit, contractors were trying to push workers straight back out to work again with minimal concern for their safety,” Mr Ong said.

“For these contractors to turn around and push these workers back out to work without completely reviewing safety procedures is not only disgusting but has put more workers lives at risk.”

Inpex and JKC should have directed a full site audit but the ETU believes this did not occur because of ongoing contractual litigation on site. Repeated requests from ETU officials to meet with Inpex and JKC hierarchy have to date been unsuccessful.

Mr Ong said a culture of fear and intimidation had been created on site that if workers spoke up about safety issues they would either be put on a blacklist and let go at the next round of redundancies, or if they were within their six-month probation period they’d be terminated on the spot.

“The laws Malcolm Turnbull and Michaelia Cash have introduced allow contractors to say any safety concerns raised by workers is ‘illegal industrial action’,” he said.

“This has become a business model for these companies now – to just threaten workers that they are taking illegal industrial action whenever they bring up issues around safety. And the result is quite clear – workers are getting injured and in worst case scenarios are losing their lives.

“Even the comments from Inpex in the Financial Review today reflect more of a concern from the company that they deliver the gas on time rather than delivering a safer workplace culture on site.”