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Joanne fights for safety in mining

Joanne Ufer with a plaque commemorating her son Josh who died in New Zealand’s Pike River mine disaster.
Joanne Ufer with a plaque commemorating her son Josh who died in New Zealand’s Pike River mine disaster. Chris Ison

JOANNE Ufer knows the heartache of losing a loved one in a mine disaster.

Her son Josh was among 29 miners killed in New Zealand's Pike River coal mine explosion in November 2010.

Josh, 25, died soon after finding out he was going to be a father.

His daughter was born six months after he died.

Now Josh's mother, a Zilzie resident, is the face of a union campaign about safety in Queensland's coal mines.

Joanne features in a CFMEU television advertisement - she says it's a way to do something for her son and the others who didn't survive Pike River.

"It would be sad to think that these men and other people who have died from mining incidents would have died in vain and we hope that we can learn from past mistakes," she said.

"I'm a mum on a mission.

"Mine safety is a matter of life and death. It is just too important to be handed over just to management."

The television ad shows Joanne supporting calls to ensure worker safety is considered more important than production targets at Queensland coalmines.

A subsequent inquiry heard evidence that management at the Pike River mine was under pressure to put production levels ahead of safety concerns.

Father's Day 2010 was the last time Joanne saw her son before he returned to New Zealand to work.

It was also the day Josh told his mother that he was going to be a father.

"I have been deeply shocked by the evidence of negligence by management at the (Pike River) mine and I never want any other family to have to go through what we have."

Topics:  mines, safety, tv commercial


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