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Commerce Minister Michael Mischin Says Union Call “Self-Promoting”

Posted by Robert O'Neill on Jun 11, 2015 9:07:00 AM
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beltana mineCommerce Minister Michael Mischin labelled the union call for a royal commission into Western Australia’s work and mine site fatalities as “self-promoting,” “desperate,” and “opportunistic.”

Unions WA, the highest authoritative body for trade unions, made the call after a worker died while at work at the Pilbara mine earlier in May.

The union claimed that the circumstances surrounding the death at the Nifty copper mine of Aditya Birla Minerals in the Pilbara required the implementation of an independent mine safety inquiry.

The man’s death in said mine site was the third fatality in WA for this year.

While every workplace fatality is nonetheless a tragedy, common sense dictates that some workplaces are just inherently dangerous—and mine sites are no exception to this.

Mr. Mischin dismissed the call, otherwise referring to it as nothing less than “a desperate act from the union movement to remain relevant by stealing a headline.”

In his written reply to inquiries from the ABC, Mr. Mischin explained there was nothing a royal commission could find out that was not already available from investigations, that have been routinely undertaken by WorkSafe WA, Safe Work Australia, the Resources Safety Division of the Department of Mines and Petroleum, the Western Australian Commission for Occupational Safety and Health, or coronial inquests and requests.

“They require not only sound legislation but properly crafted workplace safety regimens and diligent vigilance on the part not only of all the levels of the management system but of the workers themselves.”

Mr. Mischin said the union’s use of fatality statistics was not properly guided and that sensible, balanced, and contextualized use of statistics needed longer timeframes.

He further added that in Western Australia, the average work-related incidence rate for every million workers for the period of 2009-2010 to 2013-2014 is 13.1 as opposed to the previously 14.1 from the period 2008-2009 to 2012-2013—a 7.1% reduction. He explained that an honest, sensible, consideration of where safety can be improved needed a case-to-case analysis.

The WA Government’s distinct approach to Occupational Health and Safety reform was likewise criticised by Unions WA.

Union secretary Meredith Hammat yesterday said that it was an “attempt just to pick the lowest standards for workers from the national laws, rather than bringing in place what are the better standards.”

Mr. Mischin further rejected the comment, describing it as plain absurd and that Western Australia has some of the country’s strongest and most successful laws. He elaborated that the government is considering making the submissions so as to decide on the improvements the can be implemented on the existing laws that remain among the most prominent in the country—and which the Barnett government is very anxious not to compromise.

He closed his claims by saying that Victoria remains the best performing state for him, considering that it has remained the only state not to have adopted the blanket of the bureaucratic work, which the Unions WA seems to be calling for.

Topics: Authority and Commitment