CFMEU press release: safety rep sacked

Mal Peters, the last remaining Occupational Health and Safety Rep employed on the Perth to Mandurah rail construction job (city end) has been sacked by project builder Leighton after speaking out publicly about the impact of the potential $28,600 fines on him and his family. Mr. Peters was told yesterday by Leighton that it was terminating his contract effective immediately for "operational reasons".
Leighton’s part of the rail job is not due to finish until at least April 2007, and there are still up to 200 workers employed on its part of the project. Of the six worker-elected occupational health and safety representatives that worked on the project a year ago, Mr Peters was the sole survivor.
Mr. Peters returned last week from two weeks annual leave, which he and his wife used to fly to the eastern states to report to the ACTU, the national CFMEU and to talk to workers in three states about the impact of the Government’s prosecution on 107 rail job workers and their families.
State Secretary of the CFMEU, Kevin Reynolds said that Mal had lost his job simply for speaking out publicly about the Government's building industry and work laws, used to serve 107 rail project workers with summonses for federal prosecution, with potential fines of up to $28,600. "This is a case of an employer using the Government's new IR laws to intimidate and threaten any worker who wants to speak out about the Government's laws," Mr. Reynolds said.
"First, Mal's family was served a summons late at night threatening him and his family with a $28,600 fine. They were already worried about losing their home.
Now he has been sacked. "The fact that he is the OHS officer on the site just makes this worse. This is industrial relations the Howard Government way. Big businesses like Leighton can use these laws to sack people at will for standing up for their civil rights, and the rights of their fellow workmates," Mr. Reynolds said.
The CFMEU is meeting today with Mr. Peters to prepare to take his case to court.
"We will be standing by Mal and his family. We believe this is clearly a case of Mal being
sacked for carrying out his legislated duties as a WA OHS representative and for just speaking out about the Federal Governments' work laws." Mr. Reynolds said.
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