Statement from Australian Council of Trade Unions Secretary Sally McManus

Statement from Australian Council of Trade Unions Secretary Sally McManus

Workplace safety is always at the forefront of Union’s work, as it should be for all employers - such as construction company Grocon.

Grocon does not have the best record for workplace safety, with the most high profile recent example being the March 2013 collapse of a wall on a Swanston Street construction site in Melbourne which led to the death of three innocent passers-by.

This incident followed the death of a construction worker on a nearby Grocon site the previous month.

Following the Swanston Street incident, Grocon pleaded guilty in the Magistrates Court to a single breach of the workplace safety law, was convicted, and ordered to pay a fine of $250,000 - less than a quarter of the maximum available penalty.

This compares with the almost $4 million in fines levied on the CFMEU over a similar timeframe for protesting Grocon’s record and taking action to stand up for worker safety on construction sites.

While it was not accurate to say “Grocon was fined $300,000 for killing five workers,” it is accurate to point out that the huge discrepancy in fines paid by the company and the CFMEU is a glaring example of the inherent unfairness in our industrial relations laws.

ENDS