Published: 19 Jan 2024
Hundreds of civil construction workers have walked off the Cross River Rail project in protest against the contractor’s blatant disregard for the health and safety of its workforce.
Over the past four weeks there has been one heat-related fatality on the project and several other workers have been hospitalised after suffering heat stress.
CPB has refused to implement effective safety procedures, despite worker Health and Safety Representatives requesting a comprehensive heat management plan since September 2023.
On Thursday 18 January, workers took matters into their own hands, shutting down significant parts of the project.
While CPB threatened workers with the sack, the government safety regulator Workplace Health and Safety Queensland were onsite to investigate.
Quotes attributable to CFMEU State Secretary Michael Ravbar:
“It’s a new year and Queensland has a new Premier and a new transport minister, but the Cross River Rail project is still a safety hazard for construction workers.
“While most Queenslanders enjoyed the summer break, Cross River Rail workers have laboured through oppressive heat and humidity.
"One labourer – a young father – tragically passed away in late December after showing signs of severe heat stress while working on a Cross River Rail site in Salisbury.
“As usual, CPB has responded to the safety incidents by using threats and intimidation tactics in an attempt to keep the workers quiet.
"CPB has clearly learned nothing from the numerous safety incidents over the past few years. They continue to treat workers like numbers on a spreadsheet – with deadly consequences.
“2023 was the hottest year on record, yet the contractor on Queensland’s biggest civil construction project still doesn’t have a proper heat management plan for its workers.
"The worst part is that CPB were warned of the dangers of heat stress by Health and Safety Representatives, who are elected by workers.
“Workers have now sent the company – and the government – a clear message: enough is enough. It is time for Steven Miles and Bart Mellish to do what their predecessors wouldn’t. They must step in and sort out this mess."