ACT To Campaign Against Bill
ACT To Campaign Against The Health And Safety In Employment Bill
Sunday 18 Nov 2001
ACT leader Richard Prebble has pledged to lead a campaign against Margaret Wilson's Health and Safety in Employment Amendment Bill.
"The new bill imposes a maximum $500,000 fine and two years' jail on employers who cause their workers stress," Mr Prebble said at ACT's Northern Regional Conference in Takapuna today.
"Unions will be able to bring prosecutions, opening up firms to industrial blackmail. Workers will be able to become worksafe representatives, able to issue legally-binding hazard notices - in other words, industrial vigilantes.
"As the court will be able to award the fines to injured workers, it will encourage prosecutions and enable double-dipping - first from ACC and then from the proceeds of fines.
"Already, ACT has cases of employers being fined by OSH for accidents over which the firm had no control - cases where workers broke company regulations yet the firm was still held responsible.
"A $500,000 fine would wipe out most New Zealand employers. A sentence of two years' jail equates being a boss with being a criminal.
"If employers have to take out insurance against an OSH Act prosecution, it just increases the risk of being in business.
"This new law will do nothing for safety or to encourage full employment.
"ACT organised hundreds of submissions against the Employment Relations Bill and the re-nationalisation of ACC, and forced significant changes.
"ACT will use its network of small businesses to generate hundreds of submissions, to force a major rethink of the bill," Mr Prebble said.