Published: 1 Mar 2017
The CFMEU Mining and Energy Division said today that the latest case of Black Lung disease in an underground mine in Central Queensland highlights the need for urgent industry action to support victims and families affected. The worker, who wishes to remain unidentified, represents the 19th confirmed case of the disease.
Stephen Smyth, CFMEU M&E Queensland District President said that while the union welcome’s the QLD Government’s Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis Inquiry, the mining industry must take responsibility for the disease and support its victims.
“We’ve now reached the 19th confirmed case of Black Lung in Australia in less than 18 months – and this number will likely rise. The mining industry cannot continue to turn a blind eye to its responsibility,” said Mr Smyth.
“The system of identifying and remedying the causes of the disease have clearly failed, and it is workers and their families who are paying the price.
“The mining industry sits at the centre of the problem and it is the mining industry that needs to play a key role in supporting victims and their families.
“While the QLD Government has shown initiative in its recent Inquiry into the disease, taxpayers should not be asked to foot the bill for the solution – mining giants need to take action.
“The union has and will continue to call for mining companies to fund a Victims’ Fund, paid for by an industry-funded levy of 10 cents on every tonne of coal produced in the state.
“This is a small price for mining giants to pay when many workers have already paid with their health and their lives.
“Not only does Black Lung have a severe effect on workers’ health, it impacts their families and communities. While many workers are not sick enough to stay home and get support, are too sick to keep their current jobs in the mining sector – losing their livelihoods, with no course of action to support their families.
“You can’t put a price on what has been taken from these workers - they deserve better than that,” said Mr Smyth.
Next month, Black Lung disease expert, Dr Bob Cohen from the United States will visit Queensland and victims of the disease. He is the expert who identified various Black Lung cases in Australia despite several Queensland medical professionals having initially cleared workers of the disease.