Wednesday, November 16, 2016

CFMEU – 20th anniversary of Gretley Mine Disaster

November 14 marks the 20th anniversary of the 1996 Gretley disaster, when 4 mineworkers tragically lost their lives.

For this significant anniversary, this year's NSW Northern Memorial Day paid a special tribute to the four. Northern District President Peter Jordan reflected on the tragic loss of the Gretley miners Edward Batterham, Mark Kaiser, John Hunter and Damon Murray who were killed on 14 November 1996, when they unknowingly dug into an older flooded mine, causing an inrush of water that swept them to their deaths.

He told the hundreds who gathered at the Service that the four miners should never have been killed. They were given inaccurate maps and were working in an area where they should never have been placed.

Our Union drove the push to get to the bottom of what happened at Gretley and within three weeks of the Disaster an Inquiry was established that found the deaths were preventable.

“Some 43 Recommendations came from that Gretley Inquiry that led to many important reforms”, said Peter Jordan.

“While we mourned the loss of the Gretley miners we did everything to make sure the lessons were learned and that measures are put in place to ensure it can never happen again”.

He reminded the gathering that the annual Memorial Service “is also an opportunity to be mindful of the countless others who have suffered life-changing injuries as a result of the real and ever-present dangers of working in the coal mining industry. And it’s a time that we can reflect back over this past year and know that, with much relief, we have not lost a mineworker in a disaster in our region and thankfully did not need to add any new names to this Memorial Wall."

In closing, Peter Jordan said it was important that “we never forget the mineworkers whose names appear on the Memorial Wall, or those who have suffered serious bodily injuries or illness. Nor should we forget the pain and heartache felt by their families, friends and workmates.

“The passage of time never truly diminishes the grief of those affected by the loss of a loved one. An inquiry or an inquest may mark the end of proceedings for some, but for the next of kin, it will never be over”, he said.

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