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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Death of a Scaffolder



by John Tognolini,



When 41-year-old scaffolder and father of three Paul Hughes fell eight stories to his death in Sydney’s CBD on January 6, it put the spotlight not only on one of the building industry’s most dangerous occupations but also John Howard’s new industrial relations laws.

Paul’s father Frank, a retired scaffolder with 32 years’ experience, said he had seen “too many people killed”. Unless the new IR laws are stopped, he added, “there will be a lot more workers killed. I urge every worker to join the union and protect yourselves because it is the only protection you will have.”

“The death of Paul Hughes is a disastrous start to 2006", said Andrew Ferguson, NSW secretary of the construction division of the CFMEU. “We have one worker killed every week on a building site in Australia and we have a federal government trying to restrict the right of entry of union officials and safety experts. If these types of policies continue, then, unfortunately, there will be more workers killed.”

Five hundred construction workers formed a guard of honour for Paul’s coffin on January 10, when it was taken past the site to his funeral, and Maori priest Malcolm Karipi conducted a short, traditional service for Paul’s workmates.

From Green Left Weekly, January 25, 2006.

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