The Transport Workers’ Union demand all JJ Richards yards in Queensland be urgently audited and council contracts immediately reviewed after JJ Richards in Toowoomba tested positive to the illegal handling of asbestos.
After the investigation by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland confirmed the positive sample, Transport Workers’ Union State Secretary Peter Biagini questions how many other JJ Richards yards illegally handle the fatal substance.
“Asbestos is no joke and JJ Richards must be urgently investigated,” Mr Biagini said.
“How many other JJ Richards yards in Queensland illegally handle asbestos?”
“This company, with the backing of our tax payer money through their Local and State Government contracts, is playing with peoples lives – they have been found to illegally handle asbestos, exposing workers to the deadly substance.”
“It is such a known and dangerous substance that not only affects the person handling it, but what about when that person goes home and washes their clothes in the family washing machine, exposing the entire family?”
“Or the fact that Gowrie Creek runs through the JJ Richards yard in Toowoomba and makes its way into the Condamine River, where Dalby draws its drinking water from.”
“Sadly, even today, unborn babies will die from asbestos related illnesses,” Mr Biagini said.
“The Commonwealth Government knows how dangerous asbestos is, and have announced a new asbestos safety and eradication agency to start from July this year.”
“But unfortunately, until that starts, this issues lies within the State Government’s jurisdiction.”
Adding insult to injury for workers at JJ Richards is Queensland Attorney General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie, who said his job cuts at the sole Workplace Health and Safety laboratory in Queensland would have no affect on their ability to process and turnaround results for such dangerous substances.
“Mr Bleijie said despite the jobs cuts, his lab still only took two hours to get results for asbestos,” Mr Biagini said.
“And yet it took two weeks for results to come back, and they came back with a positive result. That’s two weeks too long for these workers how were potentially exposed to the life threatening substance.”
“We have written to the government and the councils who have contacts with JJ Richards to alert them of what is happening, and will be calling a meeting with our members who may have been affected,” Mr Biagini said.
“In today’s day and age there are no excuses to illegally handling asbestos.”
“JJ Richards cannot continue these illegal and life-threatening practices and we will continue our campaign with this company and with this State Government until they start working for the people of this State, not their mates,” Mr Biagini said.
A professional asbestos clean-up crew were onsite in early April cleaning up the site.
TWU will be onsite at JJ Richards Toowoomba on Thursday 11 April at 2pm to talk to members, and will host a community meeting with legal professionals on Tuesday 23 April at Trades Hall, 19a Russell St, Toowoomba.
Mick O’Brien – 0411 875 910