Mining union calls on new QRC CEO for more black lung support

The CFMEU mining and energy division has called on new Queensland Resources Council CEO Ian Macfarlane to provide further financial support to victims of black lung.

This comes after the QRC called for a Taskforce to review the workers’ compensation scheme and its ability to deal with some of the black lung cases.

“The QRC’s position… is that workers who contract CWP at work should receive fair compensation in a timely fashion, and that coal employers should be able to provide the needed funding through the existing scheme,” former QRC chief executive Michael Roche told the coal workers pneumoconiosis select committee last week.

CFMEU mining and energy district president Stephen Smyth welcomed the QRC’s position.

Smyth said, “Now that the QRC recognises the inadequacies of the existing system to support Black Lung victims, he [Macfarlane] needs to demonstrate leadership in addressing the dire situation that many of them face.”

“Black Lung sufferers are victims of a deadly disease inflicted on them by employers who failed to ensure a safe workplace for them and by successive state governments that failed them,” he said.

“Many of them are now being further punished financially because the existing Workers Compensation and Common Law systems don’t adequately cover them.”

Smyth also pushed for the development of a Black Lung Victims Fund through a 10 cent a tonne industry funded compensation levy on all coal produced in Queensland.

However, earlier this year, Roche had dismissed the idea.

“We do not support a new levy because Queensland has a very good workers’ compensation scheme and coal companies pay millions of dollars of premiums into that scheme,” he told Australian Mining.

Smyth said, “Mr Macfarlane must take this opportunity to set up a fund to support victims of Black Lung disease who desperately need it now.”

Michael Roche attended the QRC’s annual lunch on his final day as CEO yesterday.

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