Australian trade unions unite against "killer stone"
In a powerful display of solidarity, over 10,000 union members, representing a coalition of trade unions, marched through Sydney's Central Business District this week, urging their government to enact an immediate nationwide ban on engineered stone, citing grave health concerns.
Members from the Construction Forestry Manufacturing Mining Energy Union (CFMEU), Electrical Trade Unions Australia (ETU), Plumbing and Pipe Trades Employees Union (PPTEU), and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) banded together to address the pressing issue of engineered stone's role in causing debilitating lung diseases, including tuberculosis (TB), chest infections, emphysema, kidney damage, lung cancer, silicosis, and mesothelioma.
"One death is too many! Yet with more than 600,000 workers exposed to crystalline silica from engineered stone, more than 100,000 workers diagnosed with silicosis, and 11,000 afflicted with cancer, our members are sitting on a ticking time bomb!" exclaimed Zach Smith, National Secretary of the Construction and General Division (CGD) of the CFMEU. He spoke passionately during the Construction and General Division (CGD) meeting held in Sydney from 23 to 27 October. Union leaders and members emphasised that the only rational approach to prevent further tragedy among construction workers exposed to silica in engineered stone is a comprehensive nationwide ban.
Rita Mallia, President of CGD's New South Wales Branch, added, "The evidence is undeniable; we have a public health crisis on our hands. The only rational way to avoid further deaths and suffering of construction workers exposed to silica from engineered stones is to ban it."