Construction workers say goodbye to their mate

Construction workers formed a guard of honour at a funeral yesterday to farewell their comrade Paul Hughes. Paul, 41 from Blacktown, tragically died last Thursday when he fell more than 30 metres from the top floor of an Energy Australia substation at the corner of Sussex and Erskine streets in Sydney.

With his hand on his son’s coffin, Paul’s father said: “This day is a day I thought would never come – it is just heartbreaking”.

The coffin was topped with a hard hat emblazoned with the words “union and proud” and a photograph of the construction worker.

Carrying a cross made from construction pipes, the scaffolder’s brother, Chris Hughes, led the procession past the building site. The Blacktown man’s three children then met their father’s casket at a private funeral.

Hundreds of Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) members joined the Hughes family to say good bye to good trade unionist. They lined Sussex Street as the hearse carrying the worker’s body was driven past the scene of the tragedy.

Many workers have commented that the Howard government has let industrial reforms take precedence over the fundamental issue of workplace safety.

Pauls father commented yesterday that “Enough people have died. If more people die, it is going to sit on the Government’s shoulders,”

The Socialist Party sends its condolences to the Hughes family and all of the friends and work mates of Paul. We stand with the union movement in condemning the Howard Government’s industrial reforms. These reforms will make it much harder for union officials to enter workplaces to do safety audits and will therefore have a detrimental effect on workplace safety.

Howard’s reforms must be resisted to ensure that health and safety in our workplaces is not wound back any further.

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