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Issue #1458      9 June 2010

Tragic death followed by threats and intimidation

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) is mourning the tragic loss of a young worker’s life, after he was involved in a single vehicle accident and passed away whilst driving to work at Worsley Alumina in Collie, Western Australia.

AMWU members, many of whom had driven past the accident scene, were dismayed to learn of the death of their co-worker.

Supervisors on the site said the workers could take sick leave that day if they deemed themselves incapable to work.

After this offer of authorised absence was made, workers leaving the site were threatened and told their leave would be viewed as unprotected industrial action and they would be pursued by the company. This threat was reiterated by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

AMWU WA secretary Steve McCartney said the action of the company was disgraceful.

“Grieving co-workers were relieved when they were told that they would be allowed to take sick leave, but they were horrified to discover as they left the site minutes later that they would be prosecuted for taking unprotected industrial action,” he said.

The AMWU immediately demanded that contractors and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry cease their threats and allow the workers to grieve and take authorised sick leave, as originally promised.

“BHP offered employees the chance to sit in the smoko sheds all day and match the workers donations to the deceased workers family. This was an attempt to bribe workers to sit idle all day instead of letting them take leave to go home and properly grieve,” Mr McCartney said.

Workers were forced to walk along the side of the road on route to Collie because the contractor refused to provide the workers with transport back to town.

“This is an industrial relations system gone mad. Workers who have taken legitimate sick leave should not be threatened and bullied by employers or their representatives.”

AMWU members at Worsley Alumina will donate their Project Incentive Payment from their wages to the family of their co-worker.  

Next article – Australian unions condemn aid convoy deaths

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