A row over safety in the Western Australian minerals industry has erupted after the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) and the Greens called for a federal inquiry into the State’s mining industry.
The AMWU and the Greens say the State Government has failed to improve mine safety and a Senate inquiry is needed.
“There have been seven deaths in mines in Western Australia in the past year and somebody needs to answer about why there has been this horrendous spike in workplace deaths in the mining industry,” Greens Senator Scott Ludlam told the media on Friday.
“We have a mine safety regulator here in Western Australia; where are they? What on earth is going on?”
The AMWU said after the incident that BHP Billiton should have had processes in place to prevent a miner being trapped underground by a rock fall.
The Federal Member for Kalgoorlie, Barry Haase, says the comments display the ‘archaic, ignorant and irrelevant workings of unions in the modern mining industry’.
“The miner walked to a purpose built refuge station where he remained in contact with the rescue team and his wife, with access to food, water, lights, air, and toilet facilities,” Haase said.
“He remained in this secure environment while the rescue team undertook a careful and well planned operation to remove fallen rock and reinstate safe access.
“Foolish comments about mine workers being ‘lucky to be alive’ only highlight the scaremongering methods union groups use to drive membership.”