By Simon Stokes
Today, Worksafe WA announced thay will be prosecuting Salini Pty Ltd for their safety failures on the Forrestfield-Airport Link. But as always, it won’t fix anything for Josh Butterworth or any of the other workers who were injured on that project.
The safety failures that resulted in this prosecution are a great example of how not to run a major public infrastructure project.
Salini quoted on that job at half a billion dollars less than the former State Government’s own costing. And they we’re given the job at that price.
CFMEU WA State Secretary, Mick Buchan, was scathing of the job being given to a contractor that was so clearly underquoting.
“There was absolutely no way they could actually complete the job properly or safely at that price and everyone in our industry knew it,” Mick Buchan said.
“So what we saw was an endless string of delays, breakdowns, sinkholes, flooding, dodgy work, and serious injuries as Salini tried to gouge a profit where there wasn’t any.”
“It’s pure dumb luck that nobody was killed on that job.”
Thankfully, here in WA we turned that around. And full credit goes to the workers on that site who looked out for each other, stood up, and demanded a Union workplace agreement that included proper wages, decent working conditions and most importantly better safety with worker-elected Health and Safety Representatives.
The workers on the Airport Link project fought for that, and they won it. And there hasn’t been a significant injury of a serious industrial failure on that job since.
Mick Buchan said there was a serious lesson to be learnt and Governments should be listening.
“Governments need to start selecting developers on more than just who can pretend they’ll do it for the lowest, dodgiest price. They need to wake up and choose companies that will build us the best possible infrastructure, and build it fairly and safely.”
“Otherwise they’re just robbing workers of a safe workplace and decent wages, and they’re robbing the public of the quality infrastructure that we’re paying for.”
“When Governments and developers and builder cut corners and try to do thing on the cheap, workers always pay the price.”
“And for the rest of his life, Josh Butterworth will have the physical and emotional scars of a horrific injury that should never have happened, and only occured because people put their profits above his right to a safe workplace.”