The Maritime Union of Australia is calling on safety regulators around the country to follow suit with Queensland and adopt strict industrial manslaughter laws.
The new laws, which were tabled in parliament this week, will impose multi-million-dollar fines and explore jail sentences of up to 20 years for individuals found guilty of reckless conduct.
MUA Assistant National Secretary Warren Smith believes bosses found to be culpable for fatalities on their watch should face the most severe of punishments.
“The maritime industry is incredibly dangerous,” Smith said.
“We need strong safety laws that protect workers’ lives first and foremost but that should include implementation of a suite of measures that ensure culpable bosses can't walk away from killing workers.”
MUA National Safety Officer Mick Cross said harsher penalties could act as a deterrent from skipping on safety.
“Once these Queensland laws pass the Parliament we can hopefully get them rolled out across the country and we’ll start to see all businesses forced to doing the right thing to avoid tragedies happening,” Cross said.
“It’s unfortunate that custodial sentences and big dollar fines are the only ways to stop willful negligence becoming standard business practice, but something serious needs to be done to stop our workers dying in preventable accidents.
“Safety lip service from companies is unacceptable and we need to see changes around Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) accountability as a matter of urgency across all industries.
"The Trade Union movement’s relentlessness should be congratulated for taking this important step towards creating safer workplaces for all."
MUA Queensland Branch Secretary Bob Carnegie said many people had worked incredibly hard to get this legislation into the Parliament.
“The MUA Queensland Branch but in particular Ros McLennan and the Queensland Council of Unions CU worked day and night to achieve this outcome,” Carnegie said.
“The branch also wishes to congratulate Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace, who spoke at the 2016 MUA Quadrennial Conference, for driving this legislation through cabinet.
“Grace comes from a wonderful background in the trade union movement and she has stayed to true to her core beliefs'
“It is one of those times where it's good to be a workers representative and industrial action is not the only option we are left with.”
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