Workers’ lives at stake, Mr Abbott

You’ve probably heard about the looming China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) – not good news for construction workers.

You probably haven’t yet been told about the most alarming part of this dud agreement: its undermining and erosion of workplace OHS standards and conditions that unions have fought hard to win over many decades.

ChAFTA – good for whom?

If ChAFTA goes through as it stands now, it will set up a potentially massive increase in workplace deaths and debilitating injuries.

Tony Abbott and Co continue to fiercely beat their chests over how good their beloved ChAFTA is. But good for whom? Definitely not for workers – that’s for sure.

Chinese construction 7 times as deadly

  •     WorkSafe Australia statistics reported 184 Australian workplace fatalities for the 2014 calendar year.
  •     In China, work-related accidents killed over 75,000 people in 2012! That’s over 200 workers killed each day.

OK, China has 60 times the population of Australia. But even when you allow for that, its work-related death rate is still seven times as bad as Australia’s.

That’s just the average – many cases are even more horrendous.

In Australia, the construction industry mortality rate in 2014 was 2.24 per 100,000 workers.

The average annual mortality rate for construction workers in one eastern area of China was a whopping 51.5 per 100,000 workers – nearly 20 time worse!

Speed first, daylight second, safety nowhere

In one 2012 accident, 19 workers were killed on a Chinese construction site when a lift filled with workers plummeted 30 floors onto a scaffold below.  
Chinese mine operations are some of the deadliest in the world – one explosion in August 2013 killed 26 workers. In fact, fatalities are so common in the Chinese mining industry that they rarely make the newspapers anymore.

Six bridges have collapsed on China’s ever-expanding road and rail network since July 2011 – killing and seriously injuring dozens of people.

The question needs to be asked: does China sacrifice safety for the speed of construction?

CFMEU enforces Australian public’s safety expectations

At the CFMEU, we pride ourselves in representing all workers – no matter where those workers are from or what nationality they are. We will always fight to maintain and improve workers’ health and safety. And we know that this is what the public and all workers want.

Why then is Tony Abbott prepared to put workers lives at risk, potentially devastating thousands of families, in his lust to strike Free Trade Agreement with countries that have appalling records on workplace health and safety?  

Don’t import Chinese work practices

ChAFTA will allow Chinese companies to bring in their own management and workforce (and by default, their own OHS standards and work practices) to do jobs – high risk, hazardous jobs – in Australia. The result? Well, you be the judge.

Wake up to yourself, Mr Abbott – just on health and safety issues alone, this agreement is a disgrace, and must not be allowed to go through in its current format.

Dare to struggle, dare to win.