Bosses responsible for killing mineworkers should go to jail

Published: 5 Jun 2017

Dirty deals letting mining bosses off the hook for workers deaths

The Queensland District has hit out angrily at State politicians over dirty deals being done with mining bosses that allow them off the hook when they have contributed to the death of a worker.

The latest shameful deal was struck on 11 May by the Queensland Government and mining giant Anglo and allowed three mining bosses to walk free after their involvement in the fatality of coal mineworker Ian Downes in December 2014.

Ian received fatal injuries when the mine wall failed and fell on him at Anglo American’s Grasstree underground mine in Central Queensland. Charges were brought against three mine bosses and Anglo Coal (Capcoal Management Pty Ltd).

Queensland District President Steve Smyth said that the Government should never have accepted a deal that allowed the three mine bosses to walk free.

“If you kill a worker, you should go to jail – it’s that simple,” said Mr Smyth. “These guys will now be free to continue managing mines without having to face justice and be held accountable for their poor management that led to the death
of Ian Downes.

“The Queensland Government and its Departments need to stop protecting big business and hold these companies and their bosses to account,” he said.

Anglo had three fatalities at their mining operations in the period of May 2014 to February 2015 and not one person has been held accountable to date, despite the fact Anglo had pleaded guilty to one charge, which led to the death of Mr Downes.

Steve Smyth said while the family and workmates mourn the loss of a loved one, friend and colleague, the Queensland Government has rubbed salt into the wound by accepting this “dirty deal” and allowing these bosses to walk free.

“Yet again justice for a life has been denied. The Queensland Government and its Departments should be standing up to industrial homicide, not excusing it. The Queensland Government and its Departments need to be held accountable for their role in protecting bosses that have killed a worker”,
he said.

Stephen Smyth said that the Union is more concerned than ever about the lack of accountability for the lives of mineworkers. “These dirty deals are being struck at a time when we are discovering more and more victims of Black Lung and other dust related diseases in our mines.

“We have a right to expect the Government of the day and its Departments put the lives of workers and the welfare of our families ahead of the greedy corporate interests of mining bosses.
“The dirty deal over the death of Ian Downes  follows closely on the recent  disgraceful paltry fine handed down to Anglo American after the company pleaded guilty to the death of another Grasstree miner, Paul McGuire.

“Anglo was given a get out of jail free card last year and literally got away with murder in the case of Paul McGuire’s death because of the absolute inadequacies in the present system. That Anglo could plead guilty for disregarding safety obligations that resulted in the death of Paul McGuire and be given a paltry fine of only $137,000 was an offense to every worker in this country.

“The failure to again punish Anglo for its role in the death of another of its miners sends a clear signal that mining companies hold no respect for the lives of their employees and that the Government allows them to get away with it is a disgrace.

“While the Union expresses our deepest condolences to Ian’s family, friends and work mates, we will continue to fight this injustice. We will continue to campaign for laws that respect the lives and rights of workers and we say very simply that we won’t rest until mining bosses are held to proper account for lives lost in our industry. When you kill a worker, you should go to jail”, said Stephen Smyth.