Queensland unions: honouring the departed to protect the future

On International Workers’ Memorial Day today, Queensland Unions General Secretary Jacqueline King is calling on the Miles Labor Government to urgently introduce laws to protect and provide justice for any person killed by a corporation’s negligent conduct.

Queensland Unions are calling for an upgrade to the state’s industrial manslaughter laws, to enforce harsher penalties on corporations and senior executives, including jail time, if their negligent conduct results in an individual’s serious injury or death.

“Sadly, International Worker’s Memorial Day today is a sobering reminder of the urgent need for stronger industrial manslaughter laws throughout Queensland, which would help protect every single person in our community,” Ms King said.

“Incredibly, Queensland is the only state in Australia with industrial manslaughter laws where a bystander, visitor or student is not protected at a workplace in the horrific event that they are
killed because of a business’s deliberate negligence,” she said.

A notable example of this significant reform having application is the tragic death of four visitors to the Queensland theme park Dreamworld, where Dreamworld was not able to be held accountable for industrial manslaughter for killing the theme park visitors, but simply for a breach of a WHS duty.

“Strengthening our state’s industrial relations laws to include industrial manslaughter would mean an extra layer of justice and protection for all Queenslanders, covering a range of scenarios from deliberate avoidable misconduct that puts a worker at risk of harm, to the loss of an innocent bystander or student at a worksite,” Ms King explained.

“It is a disgraceful that over the last 12 months, at least 37 Queenslanders are names on a list of people who have been killed in workplaces across the state, simply by turning up to their job, or attending a worksite as a bystander.

“Queensland Union members will not stop campaigning for greater safety and protections until workplace deaths no longer occur.”

Queensland Unions notes the passing of upgraded industrial manslaughter laws should also extend to cover the use of recently banned engineered stone, meaning any business owner who knowingly imports, supplies or manufactures this dangerous benchtop product, or a similar deadly product, could be liable for industrial manslaughter, including imprisonment, if their actions contribute to a person’s death.

Ms King said today’s memorial is a sombre occasion to share in the ongoing grief endured by families, colleagues and friends of people who have died at work, and commits as a community to doing more to ensure Queenslanders are protected in every way possible at any type of workplace.

“Gathering today, we remember the very real consequences experienced by so many people when an organisation doesn’t protect their workers’ safety, or that of the community at large.

“The names of the Queenslanders we remember today are the names of someone’s loved one – a husband, daughter, father and mate, and are a tragic reminder that every person who leaves their home has the right to return back to it safely, she said.

“The stories of workplace deaths call us to remember how important it is Government and employers support and protect worker and community safety.”

The Brisbane International Workers Memorial Day ceremony will be held from 11am Monday 29 April 2024 at Emma Millar place, Brisbane CBD.

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