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Workers allegedly exploited at Christchurch water bottler

Workers allegedly exploited at Christchurch water bottling plant Cloud Ocean Water
Logan Church , Reporter

Christchurch City Council is investigating a controversial water bottling plant in Belfast over alleged worker safety issues.

Cloud Ocean Water, partially owned by the Ling Hai Group, has permission to draw millions of litres of water from bores north of Christchurch.

The anti-bottling group Aotearoa Water Action has filed legal proceeding against the Canterbury Regional Council over the consents, although a court date has not yet been set.

Christchurch City Council said a complaint against Cloud Ocean Water over worker safety had also been received today.

"We can confirm that we received a complaint earlier today and are currently investigating," Head of regulatory compliance Tracey Weston said.

"However, as this is a live enforcement matter we cannot comment further at this time."

It is understood the complaint includes details about workers sleeping on the floor and claims of unsafe boiler equipment.

Aotearoa Water Action lawyer Peter Richardson said he was not surprised about the alleged worker conditions.

"Our understanding from what we have been told is that this is a potentially very dangerous situation," he said.

"The regulators need to move very quickly on this to protect the workers on site."

This was not the first time Cloud Ocean Water had come under fire for worker safety issues.

WorkSafe New Zealand had been engaging with the company since last year on worker safety issues, which also included allegations of workers having to sleep on the floor.

Mr Richardson said he was disappointed working conditions had not seemed to have improved.

"We are very disappointed that it appears to be continuing and disappointed that the regulators have not been able to bring the practices on the site into line."

A WorkSafe spokesperson said it had been aware of health and safety concerns at the Cloud Ocean Water site since September 2017.

"WorkSafe understands that an external health and safety consultant has been engaged by the company to bring the site up to an acceptable standard for operation," the spokesperson said.

WorkSafe said it had not been officially notified about any new concerns since December 2017.

Cloud Ocean Water has been approached for comment.

An online job advertisement for the company said it was "undergoing a period of rapid growth".

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