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Workers’ rights are part of health and safety

Workers’ rights are part of health and safety

Families of workers who have died in accidents on the job will find this year’s Workers’ Memorial Day even harder to bear thanks to National’s determination to undermine employment law, says Labour Health and Safety spokesperson, Darien Fenton.

Tomorrow is Workers’ Memorial Day, a day to remember those who have died or been injured at work and together pledge to better ensure workers can come home safely at the end of their working day.

"As a result of the shocking deaths at Pike River Mine the government is making some changes to the way it regulates health and safety, but it also plans to push workers harder by reducing their pay and rights, even removing basic rights like taking a break.

“This will seriously weaken any positive action being taken and put more lives on the line.

"There's no better example of the risks of this approach than the forestry industry, where four workers have been killed already this year.

"Forestry contractors have no employment rights and with tight margins fatigue is a growing concern. In this sector in particular, health and safety risks have been shifted down the contracting chain and have become a burden to bear by workers themselves.

“Too many forestry contractors are paying for poor standards with their lives.

"The government’s planned changes to employment laws will mean precarious and contracting work like that in the forestry industry will grow and New Zealanders will be even less able to protect their basic right not to be killed or injured at work.

“While the government is clearly disturbed by New Zealand’s horrible death and injury toll, it ignores the fundamental problem -- where work rights are few and far between, safety risks are higher.

“Labour will continue the fight for safe and fair workplaces. We owe it to those New Zealanders who have lost their lives on the job to lift standards for everyone else,” Darien Fenton said.


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