Forest & Wood Communities Australia has lodged an Incident Notification with WorkSafe Tasmania following the protest action at the Artec Mill on Friday. It is the second time this month FWCA has formally requested prosecutions of the Bob Brown Foundation by the work safety regulator WorkSafe Tasmania. Source: Timberbiz
The previous request referred to workplace invasions in Tasmanian timber harvesting coupes in 2020.
The latest FWCA report refers to a protest at the Artec Mill at Bell Bay last week by the Bob Brown Foundation.
The foundation, which is regarded as a business under the Work, Health and Safety Act, has a duty of care for the people it puts in harm’s way during protests.
Two people had their arms locked inside concrete-filled drums and were positioned at the entrance to the mill to block log trucks from entering.
Two protestors were arrested.
FWCA director Kelly Wilton was at the site and reported the breaches of the Act to the regulator.
“Again, we see a business putting people under its instruction into dangerous situations purely to attract media attention,” Ms Wilton said.
“These actions constitute breaches of the work safety regulations and we will continue to report them and demand action from WorkSafe Tasmania, which has so far failed to take any meaningful action.
“This action was a campaign organised and promoted by the BBF which continues to thumb its nose at the regulator, and why wouldn’t they when WorkSafe seems to be happy to let them do as they please.”
The protesters released a video of the action in which they claimed they had been assaulted by mill workers and that tyres on their vehicles had been slashed.
Tasmania Police informed FWCA that no formal complaints of property damage or assault had been made.
Ms Wilton said despite the lack of evidence, Tasmanian media outlets freely reported that these things had occurred.
“The BBF trains people on how to protest and maximise media coverage by videoing everything in the hope of getting a ‘gotcha’ moment which they know the media loves,” Ms Wilton said.
“Yet they have no video of the serious allegations they have made against timber workers, nor were there formal complaints made to the many police who attended. We know because we spent the five minutes it took to phone the police to find out.”
Ms Wilton said Tasmania Police asked that FWCA pass on their thanks to the truck drivers and mill workers for the calm and professional manner in which they conducted themselves in what otherwise could have been a volatile situation.
“The praise of Tasmania Police is in stark opposition to the unfounded BBF claims of violence and damage to property,” Ms Wilton said.
“So, it is extremely disappointing that the ABC, The Examiner and The Advocate all reported the claims of these incidents without even the most fundamental journalistic practice of checking the facts.
“It shows how easily the media can be manipulated into further denigrating our sustainable timber industry and the people who work in it.”
Meanwhile, FWCA will continue to represent and assist timber workers who are subjected to workplace invasions by bringing dangerous activity to the attention of the regulator.
“All of us who work in this industry understand the importance of adhering to the regulations and we are under no illusion of the consequences of failing to do so,” Ms Wilton said.
“It’s about time the regulator demanded the same respect from corporate activists who make a living out of breaking the law.”