Warren Smith's Letter To The Editor, The Australian

[The following appeared in The Australian]

Dear Mr Mathieson, Some (not all) employers of wharfies are arguing that the proposed new national stevedoring safety code is too prescriptive (‘Business slams port safety push by union’, The Australian, 31 October 2012).

One of them even came out yesterday to suggest that having safety lookouts could lead to more deaths on the workplace because there are more people there whose safety is jeopardised – an absurd statement. Another said that managers should be left alone to manage safety without the input of workers – which is an out-of-touch and archaic approach to safety that this country and safety regulators rejected decades ago. 

The draft code developed by Safe Work Australia has been the result of a collaborative effort combining the input of governments, regulators, industry and the union. It is not prescriptive but highlights a range of measures that a reasonable person ought to adopt.

Wharfies have lost colleagues because of negligent safety systems at work.  One died just last month and a day later the major stevedoring companies – DP World, Patrick’s and Qube – joined together with the foreign shipping body, Shipping Australia, to significantly water down the draft code.

There is no excuse in the 21st century for workers to die on the job because employers refuse to adopt the highest safety standards.

Yours sincerely

Warren Smith

Assistant National Secretary

Maritime Union of Australia