The Guardian 6 April, 2005

Death threats against union

Police sealed off streets near the railway station in the Sydney inner western suburb of Campsie last week after the sixth bomb threat against the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union (TCFU) offices in the space of three weeks. All the telephone threats have been received since union reps went public about a clothing industry sweatshop at nearby Bexley.

A fire engine and six police cars raced to the union headquarters at around 4pm last Friday after two female office workers had received death threats in the space of 40 minutes.

The first caller repeated "gonna kill you, gonna kill you", the second added a specific threat to blow up the building.

Frustrated TCFUA secretary, Barry Tubner, confirmed police officers had attended the union's building six times in response to phone threats since the Sydney Morning Herald broke news of an unregistered Bexley factory making garments for fashion labels Jaggad, Pani, Cooper Street and Project One. Mr Tubner said office staff were "seriously concerned" about the intimidation.

"It is having an affect on the health and wellbeing of people who work here", he said, "but I'm just angry. Health and safety regulations mean we have to take these threats seriously, and we do. So far, risk management planning and security upgrades have cost our members tens of thousands of dollars."

The last time the union exposed a Sydney sweatshop one of its vehicles was seriously damaged but Mr Tubner warned against jumping to conclusions.

"You can't help wondering if it's payback, but we have no evidence for that", he said. "Whatever the motive, it's criminal behaviour and that's why we've left it in the hands of the police."

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