Thousands of workers at every major port in the nation will hold a minute’s silence on Tuesday to commemorate the recent tragic workplace death of Newcastle waterside worker Greg Fitzgibbon, as the MUA continues to fight for better safety.
Mr. Fitzgibbon was a 56-year-old wharfie with Newcastle Stevedores, who was killed on September 23 whilst working on board the Weaver Arrow. A 20 tonne pallet of aluminium ingots on board unexpectedly shifted and crushed him. He is survived by his wife and two daughters and his funeral will be held late this morning in Newcastle.
The acknowledgement of Mr. Fitzgibbons passing comes as major employers in the industry, including Patricks, Qube and DP World, continue to resist implementation of a National Stevedoring Code of Practice, designed to improve safety and lower the very high workplace death and injury rate on the nations wharves.
Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) National Secretary and International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) President Paddy Crumlin is attending the funeral today for the union.
“Stevedoring safety regulations are behind the world's best practice and this tragedy is a terrible indictment on the nation's employers," Mr Crumlin said.
"Eventually our industries employers will realise that there is a direct causal link between strong productivity and good workplace safety. But how many more of our members need to die before that realisation is gained?”
MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith said that the union was furious about the major employers attitude towards the code.
“There have been too many deaths on the Australian waterfront in recent times. Its time employers stopped undermining safety and looked after workers as much as they look after the bottom line.”
“Our members have had enough of employer obstructionism over development of this national code. Their latest efforts to stymie its implementation took place the day after Greg Fitzgibbon was killed.”
“We are demanding employers in the industry reconsider their position. They are obstructing a process with new objections after two years work has gone into it’s development.
“We need the employers in our industry to be champions of a uniform national safety code, not obstructionists.”
"We will not rest until better safety is delivered on the waterfront.”
<*Photo courtesy of Mr Fitzgibbon's family.