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Issue #1893      November 6, 2019

Automation must include less hours, no loss of pay

Coal-mining jobs will disappear faster than a blink of an eye caused by new automated technologies developed by the CSIRO, and not the scare and vilification campaigns by the Liberal and National party coalition government blaming climate change activists.

Coal mine workers have been concerned about the impact of renewable energy resulting in loss of their jobs. Renewable energy projects have had some effect on coal production however, the CSIRO 3D scanner invention will reduce the need for workers and completely eliminate worker exposure to toxic gases and dusts in replaced operations.

The CSIRO’s flameproof 3D scanning device can transmit a full panoramic view of an underground coal mine in real time, resulting in miners leaving the dangerous and toxic atmosphere at the coalface longwall operations. Operations will be remotely controlled at the surface control centre. The system is currently being trialled by Glencore at Oaky Creek in central Queensland.

Coal mining is a dirty industry and has contributed to traumatic injuries and long term health issues ranging from trivial to the fatal. Toxic dust reduced life expectancy and quality of life of coal miners including pneumoconiosis (black-lung) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) such as bronchitis and coal dust emphysema and lung cancer.

Explosive fumes contain hazardous gases including, methane which occurs naturally in coal mines. Other toxic contaminants include carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, including nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, sulphur dioxide, ammonia, radioactive gas can be released from coal and decay of radon produces fine solid particles called radon daughters (a known carcinogen).

Naturally occurring asbestos is found in underground excavation activities. Diesel exhaust emissions are particularly hazardous underground or at the surface operations, the International Agency for Research of Cancer (IARC) classified diesel exhaust as a group 1 carcinogen (causes cancer in humans) on June 12, 2012.

Automation will see most operations in coal and other mines being performed by machines completely, we have seen over recent year’s driverless trucks and trains introduced into mining with subsequent loss of jobs.

All industries will be faced with new technology and the resultant replacement of workers. The capitalist system of free enterprises results in unhealthy competition of gaining cost advantage using less labour power to produce more (dog eat dog outcome).

The trade union movement must not wait on the election of a federal Labor government. Unions must now pursue a much shorter hours per week for all sectors with no loss of pay to maintain people in employment. Failure such as has happened with the inability to breakdown the enforced federal collision’s wages cap has resulted in more small businesses going to the wall, unacceptable unemployment and underemployment, reduced purchasing power, hunger and mortgage stress.

Next article – Climate Change: more severe bushfires droughts and floods

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