► JJ Richards, 145 North Street, Harlaxton (Toowoomba)
► 2pm today, Thursday 11 April 2013
► Interviews available with TWU Waste Industry Coordinator Craig Williams.
After the positive asbestos sample was found at JJ Richards Toowoomba, the Transport Workers’ Union will gather outside their gates at 2pm today to talk to drivers as they return from their shifts.
“Asbestos is a very serious matter and we want to be there for our members,” TWU State Secretary Peter Biagini said.
“And while JJ Richards has poorly palmed the blame off onto its customers, they are forgetting what is really important, which sadly, is that they have exposed their employees.”
“There are no excuses when it comes to asbestos and we fear this company is doing the same thing at other yards across Queensland.”
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland were called onsite following concerns the company were illegally handling the life-threatening substance.
That test returned positive two-weeks later.
“We are going to JJ Richards Toowoomba to talk to members about the positive sample found and what that means to them and their families,” Mr Biagini said.
“We will also be holding a community meeting on Tuesday 23 April with legal and asbestos experts Maurice Blackburn, so we can talk to employees, their families and the community at large.”
Following the positive results the TWU wrote to JJ Richards’ Branch Manager Tom Richards, the Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie and to those councils who have contracts with JJ Richards across Queensland to raise awareness and asked to discuss the health and safety issues, before calling for an immediate audit and investigation of the company.
“Last week Minister Shorten nailed just how bad this substance is,” Mr Biagini said.
“Each year 650 Australians are diagnosed with mesothelioma, the worst of the asbestos related diseases.”
“Sadly, as Minister Shorten said, those that have been exposed to asbestos, in whatever form, there is nothing that can be done to turn back time and protect them from asbestos exposure.”
“I have personally written to Tom Richards, the Minister and the Mayors asking them to sit down with the TWU and discuss the issues relating to the health, safety and conditions of JJ Richards employees and the future of the company.”
Mick O’Brien – 0411 875 910