Good Morning All,
My name is Chris Brodsky and I am the Vice President of the CFMEU Mining and Energy Division Central Queensland. I write to you today and hope that you please print my story, these are facts, and the real face of the Coal Mining Industry and what actually is happening at the "Coal Face" pursue'. I cannot express the importance and need for this to article in its entirety to go out everywhere, all walks of our communities need to know some facts. I do appreciate your consideration and if possible could you let me know if you are going to run it please.
Coal Mine Workers in the Bowen Basin live in a world of fear, Why you say ???? well here are the facts. Coal miners of all categories Enterprise Agreement Employees, Union Members, Contractors and Staff Employees all live and work in this "Beast" they call Coal Mining. This week again we were reminded of just how dangerous this Industry really is, with another death at an Anglo American Mine, just to be clear that is 3 deaths in less than 10 months. That's 3 daddy's that don't go home to the kids, that's 3 wives/Partners that never see them or hold them again, that's irreparable scares and losses on those families and most of all that's 3 men never to see their kids grow up, see and feel special events and times, and never hold their love one's again.
And how has that affected the Mining Companies?? Well apart from the mandatory statements on how bad they feel, and will do everything for that person and their loved ones, and for all Coal Miners to think about their Safety, there mates, etc. etc. I can say with absolute certainty that its business as usual. The production rates of Bowen Basin mines is at record levels, exports at record levels, but hang on, one thing that isn't at record levels is Safety. I worked in the industry as a Miner for 17+ years as a Underground miner, and now I look after coal miners in the workplace, I see firsthand how they are treated. I see the big companies approach on safety and it's not what you all think.
Coal miners are subjected to "zero tolerance" and that means no second chances, no attempts to assist and teach miners the small mistakes they all can make on the job. Just for a minute, we are all human, we all make mistakes, but from being human and making mistakes we learn, correct and then apply and even the possibility to teach a fellow employee of the mistake and learnings. Well this does not take place in our industry of today. I spend far too much time having to look after good honest working people working in this industry, and whether you believe it or not I look after all the categories mentioned earlier in this article ( members, contractors and yes even staff ) you see from the smallest mistakes these big companies issue a thing called a "SHOW CAUSE" and basically that is a letter to your boss begging him not to sack you, for something he has the responsibility to ensure is at every workplace. The days of middle management and higher actually being practical at Coal Mines are gone. Employees are persuaded, and not so politely to not report injuries, not report incidents and in some cases actually directed to change statements or records so that the big mining companies don't come under scrutiny from Government bodies i.e. Mines Department, Industry Health and Safety Representative, Worker Comp, etc.
For instance, if a Contractor speaks up on safety, reports an incident he finds himself out of work…and the reason the companies tell him and all he mates…oh, he wasn't needed anymore or some other ridiculous reason. That Contractor and all Coal Mine Workers have the God given right under the Legislation that covers all facets of the industry including the bosses…that's right including you lot!!!!
Why should Coal Mine Workers live in fear in this industry, it's because the big mining companies rely on it. Coal mine workers of all walks worry about bills/ debts, worry about mortgages, worry about the next weeks, months of work, and most of all worry about doing the smallest thing wrong in the workplace and why, because they live and work in "FEAR OF REPRISAL". Fear of not being given the guidance and encouragement to fix the problems in the workplace. So that's how big mining companies work and think, they will never admit that, but I can guarantee you that if the papers or Government did a survey of these deep and dark secrets everyone would be shocked at the results.
Coal Mine Workers of all walks need to stand together and stop this fear and intimidation in "their workplace". You all need to be reminded that the employees are the most valuable resource a company, any company can have. Big business needs to realize this, if they require better work practices, then big business must learn the valuable and basic human rights in the workplace of patience, teaching and most of all some bloody respect. When this is shown and delivered it can only have a positive effect in the workplace and once again you will see an Industry of good people, hardworking people that are happy, proud and the willingness to help out there employer.
Governments need to realize also, that they have an equal responsibility to employees. They worry about the "royalty's and revenue" far more than the human resource that produces it. Look to be blunt, the coal quality of Australian coal mines is valued across the world, the quality and the speed it can be delivered on is what all the customers rely on. So Governments should never be worried about the dollars coming in from particular coal companies. You ask why…. Because if those current companies up and take their businesses elsewhere there are many more companies to replace them. But one thing remains the same, the employees of all walks of life to make all of that happen.
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