Former mining union boss said colleagues betrayed members

A FORMER mining union boss is accusing his former colleagues of "betraying" members to protect themselves, as he fights for compensation after suffering a work-related breakdown

Stuart Vaccaneo was the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy's Union's senior vice president in 2009 as ripples from global financial crisis began to erode Central Queensland's mining industry.

At the time, he criticised BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance's decision to slash 1000 jobs from its suite of mines in the Bowen Basin west of Mackay and Rockhampton.

In December 2009, Mr Vaccaneo ran for union president against Stephen Smyth and lost in a member ballot.

He later left the union citing a serious breakdown caused by workplace stress.

Mr Vaccaneo's claims were upheld by state workers compensation regulator Q-Comp last year after earlier being rejected.

These latest hearings are a result of the CFMEU appealing the Q-Comp decision.

On Wednesday, Mr Vaccaneo answered questions in front of the Queensland Industry Relations Commission, alleging his former colleagues had failed its members.

Mr Vaccaneo told the Commission that in early 2010, workers at the BMA Goonyella Riverside had taken "unprotected industrial action" against the mining giant, after receiving advice from the union.

However, Mr Vaccaneo claimed the now-district vice president Stephen Smyth and others had given permission for the action without the union's backing.

Mr Vaccaneo said that workers were then at risk of disciplinary action.

He told the Commission the CFMEU's Queensland mining and energy division should have admitted the mistake but the union instead launched a legal challenge.

"It goes against not only trade unionism, it also defies one of the first rules as a coal miner - you do not expose other people to danger," he said.

The hearings continue.


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