QAL workers strike over raw sewage
By LEE McIVORlmcivor@gladstoneobserver.com.au
RAW sewage seeping into their lunchroom was the last straw for 100 QAL workers who walked off the job on Wednesday, according to their union.
Tony Wroe, senior delegate for the Australian Metal Workers Union (AMWU), said workers had had enough of the unsanitary conditions they had worked in for the past decade.
'Every month or two toilets are blocked and we have had to walk through raw sewage to get to the wash basins,' Mr Wroe said.
He said toilets were blocked in section one causing a backflow into the amenities block.
'Out on the field the conditions are disgusting,' he said. "At one stage QAL put in dongas but they were worse.
'No one could walk into them for the sewage that covered the floor and the toilet bowls.
'Even the cleaners wouldn't go into them.'
Mr Wroe said five years ago a toilet was taken away to put in a conveyor system and that toilet had Co-delegate Bob Davies said in section 3a (the calcination precipitation toilets) there was no ventilation, air conditioning or ducting.
'We threatened QAL with industrial action but the company just see this as frivolous action,' he said.
Another worker said he didn't know of any other condition to work under as it had been this way since he began working at QAL 11 years ago.
QAL requested an urgent Section 127 order from the Australian Industrial Relations Commission yesterday which would force the striking workers back to work today.
The commission refused the order, but did recommended the workers return to work for the night shift last night. The commission also directed a health and safety audit of the workplace be carried out.
Workplace Health and Safety inspec- tor Greg Moran is due to carry out the inspection this morning with union delegates and QAL management.
QAL managing director Johann van Zyl said they were extremely disappointed with the action taken by the AMWU members.
'This action was a breach of the agreement between the company and the union and we trust that in the future, employees will use the many channels available to discuss concerns with the company,' he said.