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Court decision a win for workplace safety

The Australian Greens have welcomed yesterday's decision of the Tasmanian Supreme Court to allow the Australian Workers Union to enter a Rio Tinto worksite in Launceston.

Greens mining spokesperson, Senator for WA Scott Ludlam, said Rio Tinto Alcan's attempts to stop a health inspection meeting in the Bell Bay plant lunchroom (crib room) were "questionable".

"The company said they wanted to stop the union using the crib room because other meeting rooms were available - why would you appeal to the Supreme Court just to make the union use a different room?" Senator Ludlam said. "The reality is; the AWU provided a notification of intended entry to plant management to ‘discuss health and safety issues with workers during a meal or other break'. By blocking their access to the lunchroom, management would have knowingly made it difficult for the union to speak to workers."

"According to union delegates, workers at the Bell Bay plant have expressed concerns about long-term health issues," said Senator Ludlam. "The Solicitor-General said the union had the right to enter the site and use the crib room, and Rio Tinto took it to the Supreme Court - which seems like a pretty significant effort just to make sure no one's lunch is interrupted by a discussion of workplace health and safety."

Rio Tinto Alcan management have expressed an intention to continue their proceedings within the judicial system.

"How much time and money, including the time and resources of the courts, will this company waste in their attempt to hinder the union's investigation of health and safety concerns?" said Senator Ludlam.


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