Father of five miners wants to take action on black lung
A RETIRED miner worried that his five sons may be at risk of contracting black lung disease has travelled to Brisbane to have his voice heard outside Parliament.
Col Sealey is one of a group of about 50 current and past Mackay-based miners that will tomorrow participate in a rally to bring the issues of the Bowen Basin mines to the State Government's attention.
About 2000 people are expected to participate in tomorrow's CFMEU-organised rally for government action on the re-emergence of black lung and the casualisation of the coal mining workforce.
CFMEU Board of Management member Barry Elliott said the mining union was pushing for the State Government to form an independent committee of doctors to help identify cases of black lung disease.
Mr Elliott, who works at North Goonyella mine and has been underground for 22 years, said he believed the State Government could be doing more as part of its five-part response to the lung disease.
"At the moment (chest x-ray checks) happen every five years, but years ago it was every two years, and we feel that it should go back to every two years so there's early detection," he said.
Retired North Goonyella worker Mr Sealey worked underground for 42 years.
He said action on black lung disease was important to him, as he had five sons still working underground in the mining industry.
Mr Sealey said he was worried that, with an increase in coal production, his sons were being exposed to more dust.
"Back in the early days you only cut about a 1000 tonnes in eight hours, today you can cut 1000 tonnes in 30 minutes," he said.
"There's a lot more airborne dust these days than there was in the early days."
Mr Sealey said the CFMEU had sent his most recent chest x-ray to an American black lung specialist for review and he had received the good news that he didn't have signs of the disease.
CFMEU representative and Carborough Downs miner Nathan Leotta said he had concerns for his health although he'd only been in the industry for eight years.
"I'm extremely concerned. We've got some (diagnosed) workmates that (have only) been underground (at only) one or two places," he said.
"It's not just something you get when you've been in the industry 30 years… There's a lot of our members and our mates getting diagnosed."
Mr Leotta said the Brisbane rally was the union's first major demonstration since cases of black lung emerged for the first time in decades in Queensland in December last year.
"There will be more if the government doesn't realise our passion. We are about our people, it could be any one of us next," he said.
"We want to show the government that we need them to sit down and open up the books and start talking to us so that we can start recognising what's going on out there."
Miners from Rockhampton, Emerald and Moranbah will also travel to Brisbane for tomorrow's rally.