A PROTEST has been held at the headquarters of the company managing the Forrestfield-Airport Link with union concerns surrounding the safety and quality of the $1.8bn project.
The CFMEU led the protest outside the Redcliffe offices of Salini Impregilo with state secretary Mick Buchan sending the message to the company to “tidy up your act” following a series of onsite incidents including the formation of a sinkhole near the airport and claims of worker safety being compromised.
“Safety is appalling… workers are being exploited and we’ve had enough,” he said.
“There are environmental issues around contaminated soils and safe disposal, storage water that may end up being contaminated and dust suppression. We have a lot of questions and we’re not getting answers.”
SI-NRW project director Richard Graham said the Forrestfield-Airport Link was being constructed to international standards and was subject to quality assurance and independent verification at every step.
“WorkSafe has completed more than 35 inspections since construction started and last inspected the sites on November 9,” he said.
“There were no notices raised.
“We operate eight open sites and provide union access to relevant areas three to four times every week.
“Unions have made almost 300 visits to our sites since construction commenced.
“We deal openly with union representatives and have no issue with any safety authority reviewing our practices.
“This is a project of international significance. We are employing the highest standards and achieving incredible engineering feats, including having now completed 6.4km of tunnelling.
“We are proud of our workforce and we see them operating in high-functioning teams and making significant progress every day.
“Our goal is to reach the end of each day with no incidents. Safety is our first priority.”
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the Government was doing everything it could to make sure the project was safe for workers.
“We have had WorkSafe visit the site on dozens of occasions and we have increased the government resources in monitoring the project including increasing the amount of surveillance to make sure there is now 24-7 coverage,” she said.
“Of course there is some genuine concerns that have been expressed and we are taking those on board.
“We are doing what we can to improve safety and make safety the number one priority.”
Ms Saffioti would not be drawn on whether there was evidence of shortcuts taken in the project.
“The tunnel boring machines have continued to operate and the sinkhole is being investigated,” she said.
“I have asked the Public Transport Authority that by Christmas we need certainty about the way forward.
“I have also asked for a review of the timeframe because I don’t want any excuses of having the project rushed.”