Industrial deaths and lying propaganda, a tale of two worlds

As news filtered through within minutes of the latest death on the waterfront that Thursday morning, every wharfie froze. Who? Where? And more pertinently, why ... yet again?

As details became clearer, the horror gave way to anger. And tears, even amongst the most hard bitten. The mood was palpable on every wharf, amongst every wharfie — a mate and comrade in the MUA was another victim of the arrogance, indifference, slack safety standards, productivity pushes and a multitude of inexcusable managerial decisions backed by laws and power hungry politicians from both sides of the “fence”.

So we showed our respect for Steve and his family throughout Australia at the time of his funeral. Stood solid that day. And maintained our rage. An injury to one is indeed an injury to all. It was etched onto each and every face through the services.

We face harassment now by managers, senior executives and owners who are contemptible in their callous disregard for the death of one of our own and in their arrogance in not facing up to the responsibilities of a safe workplace.

Wharfies have had to endure seven deaths in the past four years and countless injuries. But we barely rate a mention in their newspapers.

Eleven deaths occurred on a fatal plane crash in Africa in mid-June. For weeks it was front page news and every media angle was sought to mourn six of them (and being Australian to boot, which made the news even more important according to the media).

These “captains of industry” from Sundance Resources were even described as miners, although not one has ever physically dug a hole. They were touted as “men of loyalty, honour, duty and courage” by the West Australian. A thousand of their type took the day off to attend a state memorial.

Three thousand workers paid tribute to countless deaths in the maritime and construction industry on July 20 and no one bothered to report that. Not one inch in the media.

Ian Jamieson