The deaths of four northern district coal miners in less than a year has once again brought the safety of the industry into focus.
As members of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union gathered in Cessnock yesterday for the union’s annual memorial day, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten vowed to fight for mining safety until there were no more deaths.
“Mining, and indeed coal mining, has been difficult and dangerous work for centuries and it kills regularly in explosions, gassings, collapses and water rush-ins,” Mr Shorten said.
“Today, in remembering those lost to danger, we reaffirm our commitment to safety.
“We promise to remember them and to do better by them.
“We vow to continue the fight for the most basic, the most essential workplace right of all, the right to come home alive.
“Until that is assured, until there are no more new names on the Jim Comerford Memorial Wall, the work of the Labor movement is not done. “
More than 1800 mine workers have been killed in the Hunter Valley since mining began.
They include the casualties of the Gretley Colliery mining disaster Edward Batterham, 24, Damon Murray, 19, John Hunter, 36, and Mark Kasier, 30 and Maitland man Daniel Hill, 34.
“Today we mourn and honour more than 1800 people who went out their front gates to work one day and did not come home,” Mr Shorten said.
“Today we vow to go beyond remembrance, we vow to do better and we vow to do more. We vow that the deaths we mourn today are not in vain and we dedicate ourselves to making workplaces safe and healthy.
“We will work everyday to stop more names being added to this wall.”
CFMEU northern district president Peter Jordan echoed the Labor leader’s sentiments.
“This memorial day service is a solemn reminder of the high-risk nature of coal mining,” Mr Jordan said. “The passage of time never truly diminishes the grief of those affected by the loss of a loved one.
“An inquiry or an inquest may mark the end of proceedings for some, but for the next of kin it will never be over.”
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