Call To Scrap Safe Work Australia Regulations In Wake Of Worker’s Death Is Disgraceful

The Maritime Union of Australia has slammed calls from the Australian Logistics Council to scrap the Safe Work Australia Stevedoring Code of Practice, just days after another waterside worker was killed on the waterfront.

Married father of three Anthony Attard was killed working for Toll Holdings on board the 'Tasmanian Achiever' in Port Melbourne on May 20. Toll Holdings is on the board of ALC.

Mr Attard's death follows a spate of deaths and serious injuries on the Australian waterfront in recent years. However ALC General Manger Michael Kilgariff wants to scrap the code, stating it was not developed with stevedore safety in mind:

“We would prefer the stevedoring code of practice not go ahead at all.” - ALC General Manager Michael Kilgariff, Lloyd’s List DCN – May 28, 2014

MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said the ALC's call to remove safety protections on the waterfront proved just how little regard the organisation and stevedores had for worker safety.

"This month we have seen yet another worker killed on our waterfront in yet another preventable accident," Mr Crumlin said.

"The ALC has looked at the situation on our docks - in which people are regularly losing their lives and sustaining serious injuries - and decided what they want is a watering down of safety. Frankly, this is disgraceful, and the union and will continue to fight and escalate our campaign against this profit-first, worker-last attitude.

“Maritime workers can’t believe that just one week after Anthony’s death – the stevedores, including Toll, are out and about trying to bomb worker safety. The fact that Toll Holdings, the company Anthony was working for, is on the board of the ALC makes this call all the more disgusting.

"Nothing in this industry is more important than worker's safety. If a worker doesn't come home to his or her family at the end of their shift then something’s not right in the industry."

Safe Work Australia is currently developing a model Code of Practice for stevedoring. Development is being undertaken through a tripartite working group which includes regulators, stevedoring companies, and the MUA.

MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said: "The MUA has been engaging diligently and constructively with companies and regulators through the auspices of Safe Work Australia to ensure we have the code in place to protect workers' safety on the docks. We are now calling for regulation because we believe safety must be mandatory, and it must be law.”

"For the ALC and their stevedoring company members to unilaterally call for this vital process to be blown up completely demonstrates an utter lack of ethics. Those on the ALC board should have a good hard look at themselves and think seriously about where their priorities lie.

"We refuse to believe the lies we are told about worker safety coming first. This heartless, profit-first view of the world must be challenged and it must be changed. The MUA will fight with all its might to ensure worker safety comes first."