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Union threatens court action against US engineering firm
06/08/2012 - A union is threatening Federal Court action against US engineering firm Bechtel after workers were exposed to asbestos on a Queensland work site.
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Several tradespeople working at the site of the Curtis Island liquefied natural gas hub, near Gladstone, were exposed to the carcinogenic substance this week.
Bechtel says the site was immediately quarantined, and had meetings with the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) on Thursday about the best way to proceed.
But the ETU released a statement on Friday saying Bechtel were trying to withhold workers' pay resulting from time lost because of the asbestos discovery.
"Our members were facing an imminent risk to their health and safety through being exposed to white asbestos ... (and) they refused to work in the affected areas until they were given the all clear," ETU assistant secretary Peter Ong said.
"The company have come back and said, `yes, we now have testing that shows that you have been exposed, but we are not going to pay for your time lost, because you were taking unprotected industrial action'."
Ong said the union was considering Federal Court action to resolve the dispute after a Fair Work Australia hearing did not break the deadlock.
Comment is being sought from Bechtel.
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