17-Mar-2017 4:57 PM

Young workers are being treated like slaves and being exposed to deadly asbestos fibres while gaining practical experience for their All Trades Queensland/Beenleigh PCYC Certificate 1 in Construction, which was part of the Queensland Government’s “Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative”.

On Monday the CFMEU was contacted by a concerned worker (who has since been sacked for raising the safety concerns) after a pile of suspected asbestos fibro was discovered at the Beenleigh Historical Village where these young workers were directed to work.

CFMEU officials collected samples from the pile, and other debris from the site, and sent them for independent testing at a NATA accredited laboratory. These samples returned a positive result for Brown and White asbestos.

“The CFMEU has serious concerns for the safety of these young workers after officials today witnessed people clearing away and trying to cover up the asbestos debris,” said CFMEU Divisional Branch Assistant Secretary Jade Ingham.

“The Certificate 1 course in Construction should give young people an introduction into the construction industry in a safe and secure environment.

“Instead, management from Beenleigh PCYC knowingly exposed these young workers to the deadly materials and bullied them into clearing the asbestos debris up.

“The bosses will have blood on their hands and should be ashamed of themselves.

“Thankfully these young workers had the confidence to speak up and to contact the union when they were concerned about their safety despite threats of being sacked for doing so.

“It is a workers’ right to work in a safe and secure work place free from illness or injury and they should not fear retribution when they raise concerns for their safety.”

The CFMEU is calling on the State Government to step in and ensure training initiatives such as “Skilling Queenslanders for Work” are properly monitored in order to make sure unscrupulous employers are not taking advantage or putting the lives of young inexperienced workers at risk.

We are also calling on Workplace Health and Safety Queensland to do their job and immediately investigate and intervene in serious safety matters, which threatens the life of workers. In this instance, a workplace complaint was lodged on Monday with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and it took them until Thursday before they attended the site to investigate the issue, which of course was too late, as all asbestos debris had already been cleared away.

For all media enquiries please contact Jessica Conradi on (07) 3231 4600 or 0411 865 425

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