Union gives workplace safety poor report card

By REN LANZONrlanzon@gladstoneobserver.com.au

A UNION "report card'' on safety gives Queensland companies five or six out of 10, union members attending a two-day training course were told this week.

Queensland branch president of the Australian Workers Union Garry Ryan told the course participants the union considered the safety of workers as being as important, or even more so, than working wages and conditions.

'Our focus has been on the large number of fatalities and injuries across Queensland,' he said.

Figures for 2003-2004 show there were 107 people killed in Queensland workplaces across Queensland during that time and about 85,000 injured.

'We are keen to highlight that those rates are unacceptable.

He said the AWU also wanted to ensure employers fulfilled their obligation to their workers by making sure they had safe workplaces for the employees.

'In terms of industrial relations, we essentially want to raise our members' awareness as to what the federal government intends to do with its proposed regulations.'

He said the key areas of concern were workplace agreements and the abolition of unfair dismissal laws for people working in workplaces with less than 100 employees.

Mr Ryan he was aware that Gladstone now had a Small Business Office.

He said the group 'is clearly an interested party' because it worked on behalf of employers.

He said workplace agreements 'stripped away the industrial rights of the workers'.



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