Scott Morrison’s plan to allow children to drive forklifts is a reckless and dangerous idea that will put workers at risk of injury and death and must be rejected by the states.
“Morrison wants to see children operating one of the most hazardous pieces of industrial plant on worksites – it is completely unacceptable”, said Nigel Davies, CFMEU Construction Division National Assistant Secretary.
“Forklifts are just one piece of plant that require a high-risk work licence and for operators to be over the age of 18. This is to ensure safety for all workers.“
The Morrison Government is the latest in a long line of Liberal Governments in Australia who have tried to water down training requirements and have privatised vocational education systems to make them profit driven.
The result is less and less locally trained workers and a greater and greater reliance on imported migrant labour.
With border restrictions in place, that lack of locally trained workers has caused problems in the supply chain as wokers are home sick or needing to isolate. Morrison’s solution? Get untrained teenagers to opperate heavy plant.
Nigel Davies believes it is outragous for a Prime Minister to be encouraging states to relax basic safety regulations.
“The regulations around safe operation of forklifts and other high-risk plant are enshrined in state and territory workplace health and safety laws that unions have fought for over decades.”
“We will not allow the watering down of any aspect of health and safety laws to provide cover for Scott Morrison’s stuff ups.”
“The statistics on workplace incidents involving forklifts are damning. In September 2021 SafeWork NSW revealed it had recorded 598 incidents involving forklifts and five fatalities over the previous two years.”
“It’s especially insulting to see Morrison pushing this terrible idea just days after a Melbourne worker was killed while driving a forklift.”
“Scott Morrison wants to put children on the industrial frontline to provide cover for his own failures. It’s a shocking demonstration of his capacity to put his own political needs ahead of other people’s safety and wellbeing.”
CFMEU WA State Sectretary, Mick Buchan, was also scathing of the proposal.
“Scott Morrison and his Government are a big part of why we don’t have enough well trained local workers to begin with. And this is his solution? Get untrained kids to do the work?”
“What a dickhead.”