Of police and other deaths
Posted by John, December 8th, 2012 - under ABCC, Aboriginal deaths in custody, Australian Building and Construction Commission, Building industry, Building unions, Building workers, CFMEU, Deaths at work, Deaths in custody.
On Friday Detective Inspector Bryson Anderson attended a dispute between neighbours. He was stabbed and died. Two people have been charged with his murder.
By all accounts Anderson was a decent man who helped a number of people. The police, media and politicians have made much about his serving the community and the danger that police officers face.
According to the NSW Police Honour Roll site 14 officers have died on duty since 2002. Some of them have been on the way to or from work. If we add Anderson it makes 15 in ten years, 4 of whom died as result of being attacked.
Anderson’s death received lots of media coverage of grieving, of police commissioners, politicians and others mourning our loss.
Aboriginal deaths in custody between 2002 and 2008 totalled 99. As far as I know not one police or prison officer has been convicted over the death of any of those prisoners.
On building sites, according to Dave Noonan, the head of the CFMEU, the building union, about 50 workers die a year as a result of workplace injury or illness. As far as I know not one building boss has been charged, let alone convicted of a criminal offence in relation to deaths on building and construction sites.
According to Leighton Holdings, that figure of 50 deaths a year on sites could trend up to 100 a year. Leighton Holdings also pointed out that the rate of deaths on building sites in Australia was twice that of the UK because in the UK they have strict safety standards.
In the same radio interview, Dave Noonan from the CFMEU said that if unions could enforce safety standards on site, the number of deaths on building and construction sites would fall. It makes sense. Those who have a vital interest in safety are workers and their unions. The bosses have an interest in profit, not safety.
In Australia, the criminalisation of strikes over safety and the establishment of the Australian Building and Construction Commission to police the industry and handcuff the union and workers from taking industrial action, saw deaths on site increase. The CFMEU again:
Deaths in the construction industry increased, from 3.14 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2004 to 3.86 in 2005 [when the ABCC came into operation], 5.6 in 2006, 4.48 in 2007 and 4.27 in 2008.
Labor has changed the name of the ABCC but it still polices building sites. The solution? Dave Noonan again in 2010:
Ultimately it’s bad laws that cost lives. Bad laws that are used to intimidate workers. Bad laws that stop experienced union organisers visiting sites to review safety. Bad laws which mean a worker like Ark Tribe is facing six months in prison after safety concerns got so bad on his worksite, workers decided they had to take some action.
Too many workers have a story to tell about workplace accidents. Every worker has the right to come home safely. We know when there is a strong union presence on construction sites, with active union members, safety is better.
What happens when workers at places like the Myer Emporium Grocon site try through action to win safety rights by having union representation on site? Hundreds of police, courts, lawyers, injunctions, contempt of court orders, possible million dollar fines and imprisonment.
No mourning the building worker dead, no outpourings of grief, no media championing those killed in the name of profit. Just vilification and the full force of the state thrown at workers and unions daring to fight for better safety on site.
Perhaps the difference in treatment in death is that police protect the profit system, whereas workers don’t. We workers make the profit for the bosses. We are expendable and our deaths at work are nothing to them compared to the death of a police officer.
By their eulogies shall ye know the bosses and their system.