Our Story

RIP Bobby

CFMEU Officials have been onsite supporting Members struggling through the tragic death of Bobby Hetherington on 15 February 2016.

We have worked with Worksafe and the Builder to learn from what happened and prevent a tragic repeat.

Meanwhile the FWBC have shown their disgusting attitude towards workers in our industry once again. The day after Bobby was killed, inspectors entered the site - only interested in whether Union officials had breached right of entry laws.

This is the disgraceful mentality of inspectors who would become the ABCC ‘cops on the beat’ if Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals get their way.

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Vickery Family

"My husband died on a construction site. It’s what happened next that saved us."
(image: Jeffrey Chan, Fairfax)

Fiona Vickery (Wayne Vickery, husband, 45)

‘My husband Wayne was killed on 12 December 2011 when a grader backed over him at his workplace. At the time, our daughter was 15 years old and our son was 13 years old. It devastated us.

The CFMEU ACT Branch reached out to us from day one. They were there when the police visited our home in Yass on that awful day, and they are still with us today.

Help when we needed it most

Tony Ovington

"It was a pile of rubbish"

Tony Ovington

Tony was a crane driver with over ten years’ experience at a woodchip mill. The company crane he usually drove was in good condition, but they had brought in an extra crane to help out that was ‘a pile of rubbish.’ He was given little instruction in how to drive this crane, but could tell immediately it wasn’t in good condition. Tony says he should have refused to drive it, but it was three days before Christmas and the company wanted to get things finished. He had just moved some material to an area of the site, when his supervisor told him it needed to be moved elsewhere. As he picked it up again, he felt the crane begin to topple. Not wanting to be in the cabin when it fell over, he jumped clear and landed with all his weight on one leg. As he hit the ground the leg was so badly broken that after months of treatment and subsequent bone infections from the external fixations the leg was amputated above the knee.

Dan Phelan

"I wish this on no man."

Dan Phelan

Christmas to New Year 2011

The Christmas shutdown period is usually reserved for the respite of workers after a hard year. A time for them to be with their families during the festive period.

While enjoying this downtime in 2011, I missed a phone call from my Dad, an electrician working nightshift on a rail upgrade project in Perth.

I bear the scars of a person who had his life changed so dramatically from this point that I find myself in a state of constant loss. If it not for my own family, I would not know how to improve.

On December 29 2011, my father was killed in a workplace tragedy.

 

I wish I’d spoken up before it got this bad.”

Steven Mandalias

Steven has worked in the construction industry for over 10 years.  About 2 years ago he began experiencing pain in his hips and groin. It was diagnosed initially as muscular – from overuse of those muscles. But after a month off over Christmas, the pain got worse. He tried to work through it, but couldn’t even sit down without pain. The doctors then diagnosed arthritis as a result of repetition in the workplace.

His condition is so bad that he will have to have a bi-lateral hip replacement at the age of 41.  As a father of five young kids with a sixth on the way, he feels vulnerable and insecure about his future. He knows he can’t return to his old job and is training to do something less physical in the construction industry.

“I was worried I’d lose my job. Look where it got me.”

Ian Young

Ian had been sent up onto the roof several times in the past to fix leaks. He’d told his boss that the roof needed attention but nothing was done. After a bad rain storm, they came to work on Monday to find leakage into the workplace. The women who worked in the lab were going to be sent home because they couldn’t work until it was fixed. So Ian went up and fixed it. He knew he would have been sent up anyway and he felt insecure because they were training up a younger guy into his job. The roof collapsed. Ian’s spinal cord was crushed in the fall, leaving him without the use of his legs.

Ann Everett (son, Mark McCallum, 34)

“My son put his safety in their hands. And now he’s gone.”

Ann Everett (Mark McCallum, son, 34)

Mark was an experienced and competent crane driver working on the construction of a pier in Dalrymple Bay. Things had gone wrong all morning: four or five attempts to get the concrete slabs in place had failed. There was a lot of pressure on the workers to get the job done by the end of the shift. It was all about time. In the end Mark was crushed as he tried to clear debris from the tracks for the jinker. The company was found to be negligent.

“Josh thought the company would keep him safe. Now he’s never coming home.”

Joanne Ufer (Joshua Ufer, Son, 25)

Joshua had worked in mining in Australia, and he knew the risks involved. He’d travelled to New Zealand to work in the Pike River mine to have the experience of working and living in a different country. A youthful adventure. Investigations have since shown that there were a lot of safety issues the miners were not aware of. The aftermath of the explosion is not over. My son has never been returned home to us and no one has been held to account for his death.

 “I was too afraid to say no. Now I’m blind in one eye.”

Kane Ammerlaan

Kane was a 16 year old building apprentice when his boss asked him to do some cash work on a weekend. He was carrying overloaded buckets of concrete up to a roof with no safety harness and no railings. If he carried the buckets half full, his boss would throw concrete at him and send him back down to fill up the bucket.

One day he was overloaded with buckets and fell. Concrete went into his eyes. His boss laughed and told him to get back to work. When it was obvious he was hurt, his boss - who didn’t have work cover despite telling Kane that he did - phoned his girlfriend, rather than the ambulance to come and help.  She came too late. The concrete had already set in his eye and he lost 100% vision. From sport to work, Kane can’t do the things he loves doing any more.

The CFMEU is Australia's main trade union in construction, forestry and furnishing products, mining and energy production.

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