Push for industrial manslaughter penalties

Matt Coughlan
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Bosses should face 20 years in jail and $20 million in fines if they are found to be responsible for workplace deaths, unions say.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions Congress voted on a motion calling on federal and state governments to introduce industrial manslaughter laws to hold company directors accountable for people who die on the job.

“Whether it be a Labor government or a Liberal government, let’s fight the bastards ’til we get it,” the maritime union’s Christy Cain told delegates on Wednesday.

Mr Cain recounted seeing a man who was married with three children pinned between two shipping containers on a ship at shore.

He remembered other workers who died at work and visiting their loved ones.

“I’ve seen a man in Queensland, and this is what gets you, where we took $72,000 across from Western Australia to deliver to that widow. Three kids all under the age of six,” Mr Cain said.

Then he told the story of a crushed wharfie comforted by his brother as he lay dying at work.

And a young woman in WA who fell 30 floors down a lift shaft when she stood on a bucket.

“That rotten stinking boss got fined $80,000,” Mr Cain said.

The maritime union’s WA secretary said he never wanted to have to lay another wreath at parliament for a someone killed at work.

“Whether (bosses) go to jail or they don’t, we want legislation that protects workers.”

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