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Crush the ABCC not workers’ bodies!

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Nick G.

Just over a year since Jorge Castillo-Riffo was crushed to death in a scissors lift accident on the Royal Adelaide Hospital building site, another worker has lost his life.

Like Jorge, he was crushed in a scissors lift, caught between the lift platform and the top of a door frame.

Workers on the site are being pushed to meet a November 2016 completion deadline after builders indicated that they could not meet the formal April 2016 deadline.

Media reports prior to the latest death referred to a “race against time”.

Also engaged in a race against time is the federal government which has failed once before to introduce legislation for a revived and strengthened Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), the so-called “tough watchdog on the beat”.

In a previous incarnation, the ABCC infamously persecuted rank and file CFMEU member Ark Tribe over his involvement in a safety dispute at a Flinders University site.

Ark stood tall and faced a mandatory six-month prison term as workers nation-wide rallied in support, and the ABCC lost its case.

Wanting stricter penalties and sharper teeth for the “watchdog”, prime minister Turnbull is desperate to revive the ABCC.  There are indications that a second rejection of legislation will trigger an early federal election.

No such concern for time has been extended to the partner of Jorge Castillo-Riffo.  Pam Gurner-Hall has called for an inquest into his death, saying she wanted the circumstances surrounding his death and safety standards in the construction industry, including the casualisation of the workforce and use of scissor lifts, thoroughly investigated.

On Saturday, she said she was “gutted” another death has occurred at the RAH site.

“I’ve been calling for 14 months for a coroner’s inquest into Jorge’s death just so something like this could be prevented,” a clearly distraught Ms Gurner-Hall said.

“Both these men should still be alive. They must change the rules for operating scissor lifts and enforce them because operators don’t do it themselves.

A dozen construction industry deaths in the first seven weeks of the year should be the focus of the federal government’s attention.

But this executive committee of the ruling class is committed to the intensification of labour and the accumulation of profits across all industries and workplaces, and has no regard for workers and their safety.

A tough industry needs a strong union.

We should crush the ABCC, not workers’ bodies.

And we will do it by building unity and struggle in our workplaces and communities,  as part of our own independent agenda, rather than by reliance on the talking shop of parliament and its parties of capitalism.


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