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Pike River directors’ comments disgraceful

November 21, 2012
Media Release

Pike River directors’ comments disgraceful

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union says attempts by the former directors of Pike River Coal to shift responsibility for the tragedy onto their underlings is disgraceful and show the need for stronger mine safety laws.

In a statement issued by their laywers, former directors John Dow, Ray Meyer and Stuart Nattrass deny the Royal Commission’s findings that the company put production ahead of safety and attempt to blame the former health and safety officer for their failings.

EPMU assistant national secretary Ged O’Connell says the former directors’ refusal to accept they are accountable shows the need for stronger mine safety laws.

“For these three men to refuse to accept any responsibility for the 29 men who died under their watch and to then try to sheet home blame to the people below them is simply disgraceful.

“There is no doubt Pike River Coal Ltd put production ahead of safety, and the Royal Commission report gives numerous concrete examples of this happening. The former director’s claims are simply not supported by the evidence.

“The lack of accountability from those at the top is unfortunate and in our view shows the need for a corporate manslaughter charge to focus their minds on the consequences of their actions as directors.

“The Pike River Inquiry heard repeatedly how the company these men ran refused to listen to workers, excluded the union at every opportunity and created a culture where workers learned not to speak out for fear of being disciplined.”

Mr O’Connell says the former directors’ attempts to shift the blame to those below them shows why companies can’t be left to manage health and safety on their own.

“These out of touch comments are a perfect example of why we need stronger mining regulations, an independent and well-resourced mines inspectorate and worker-elected check inspectors. Companies like Pike River Coal Ltd simply can’t be trusted to put safety first.”

The EPMU’s submission to the Pike River Royal Commission is available here:
http://www.epmu.org.nz/assets/Health-and-Safety/EPMU-submission.pdf

ENDS

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