Published: 17 Nov 2016
Today the CFMEU Mining and Energy Division called on Ian Macfarlane, the incoming Chief Executive of the Queensland Resources Council (QRC), to mark his first day on the job by committing to adequately support Black Lung disease victims in Queensland.
CFMEU M&E QLD District President, Stephen Smyth said last week’s call by the QRC for a review of the compensation scheme was a significant change in the Council’s position that acknowledged victims are not being properly supported, but that there is a long way to go.
“Now that the QRC recognizes the inadequacies of the existing system to support Black Lung victims he needs to demonstrate leadership in addressing the dire situation that many of them face,” said Mr Smyth.
“Black Lung sufferers are victims of a deadly disease inflicted on them by employers who failed to ensure a safe workplace for them and by successive state governments that failed them. Many of them are now being further punished financially because the existing Workers Compensation and Common Law systems don’t adequately cover them.
“Mr Macfarlane must take this opportunity to set up a fund to support victims of Black Lung disease who desperately need now. It can be easily funded by an annual 10 cent levy on all coal produced in QLD.
“A very modest 10 cents per year on every tonne of coal is hardly a blip on the radar of mining companies’ earnings. Mining companies need to accept their responsibility and at least deliver on this very modest call.
“A Black Lung Victims Fund is the minimum they can do to help rectify the pain and suffering they have caused. This can’t be fobbed off by some of the world’s biggest and most powerful mining companies as the responsibility of the taxpayers of QLD. These companies cannot be let off the hook for a deadly disease caused by their own negligence.
“The QRC must also lead the way in advocating for more astringent regulations around the management of dust levels in coal mines, but also reducing legal dust levels to prevent future cases.
“So far we have at least 30 diagnosed cases of Black Lung in QLD and we expect this number to drastically increase in years to come. The mining sector needs to work with workers and the community to support those workers and their families.
“Mr Macfarlane has the opportunity now to show the leadership and consideration so badly lacking in the QRC to date,” said Mr Smyth