Letter to the editor re safety at Grosvenor Mine

Published: 18 May 2020

It’s disappointing to see the Courier Mail use the recent disaster at Grosvenor mine as just another opportunity for union-bashing (Union of expediency and power is bad form, 18 May 2020).

There has been no inconsistency in the CFMEU Mining and Energy Division’s public or private approach to safety or work practices at Anglo American’s Grosvenor mine.

Peter Gleeson has been given just one of many items of correspondence between the union and the company over recent years.

I did attend the safety reset events at Grosvenor mine last year, I was impressed with what I experienced on that day with them and I let the company know that. Credit where it’s due.

The safety reset was one event at one point in time, which would never have been held without the union’s strong advocacy after the horror string of deaths that have rocked our industry. As we said at the time, the safety reset was an important time to pause and reflect, but it was never going to be a silver bullet for mine safety.

In other correspondence with Anglo American, I have on numerous occasions raised the union’s serious concerns over the use of a casualised labour hire workforce at Grosvenor mine and safety standards at Anglo’s operations.

The Courier Mail may complain about unions ‘leveraging political capital’ in the wake of a health and safety crises - but the truth is that every safety regulation to protect workers must be fought for. Tragically, most are written in the blood of dead or seriously injured workers and we must make sure their blood was not spilled in vain.

This is nowhere truer than the mining industry. It is unions that have fought for industrial manslaughter laws, for tighter dust controls to fight the re-emergence of black lung disease, for strong safety laws. Mining bosses have fought back every step of the way. 

I’m proud that my union is out on the ground every day standing up for the interests and lives of mineworkers. Our strong advocacy for safety and reform in our industry is for the workers and their families; if it offends the Courier Mail and annoys the bosses then we must be doing something right.   

Stephen Smyth,

President, CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland District