Labour backs Pike River recommendations

Press Release – New Zealand Labour Party

Labour is calling on the Government to adopt all of the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Pike River and to extend health and safety improvements to all workplaces to keep New Zealanders safe on the job.David

SHEARER

Labour Leader
05 November 2012 MEDIA STATEMENT

Labour backs Pike River recommendations

Labour is calling on the Government to adopt all of the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Pike River and to extend health and safety improvements to all workplaces to keep New Zealanders safe on the job.

“My thoughts today are with the families of the 29 men who died at the mine two years ago. Their loss is an absolute tragedy. This will be a very difficult time for their families.

“The Commission’s report released today is thorough, hard-hitting and gets to the bottom of how and why these men lost their lives. The findings are quite rightly damning of Pike River’s attitude of putting coal production ahead of worker safety and exposing them to ‘unacceptable risks’. It is shocking that multiple warnings about excess methane and other health and safety concerns were ignored.

“The criticism of the Department of Labour’s performance left Minister Kate Wilkinson with no choice but to resign. She was right to do so.

“Urgent action must now be taken by the new Minister to restore confidence in mine safety but also in the Department of Labour so that all Kiwis can be sure they are safe at work.

“We have long advocated for changes to improve workers’ safety, including the reinstatement of check inspectors in mines, and we will support the adoption of the Commission’s key recommendations,” said David Shearer.

Darien Fenton said the weakening of workers’ rights in employment law makes it harder for them to speak out when there are safety concerns.

“Testimony to the Royal Commission showed the contempt that the Pike River management had for the role of the union in health and safety and its resistance to their involvement.

“It also showed the lack of respect the Labour Department inspectors had for workers on the job who knew and experienced the risks of their workplace every day.

“This Government has systematically dismantled employee participation in health and safety, including cuts to worker health and safety training. That’s an abdication of responsibility for protecting our workforce.

“The families will want something good to come from this terrible tragedy and that must include a change in the Government’s attitude towards workers, unions and its own role in keeping people safe on the job,” said Darien Fenton.

ENDS

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