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Ham-fisted politics behind Collins posturing

Andrew LITTLE

Labour Issues Spokesperson

15 January 2014                MEDIA STATEMENT

Ham-fisted politics behind Collins posturing

Judith Collins’ decision to scrap ACC-funded health and safety training looks more like political posturing at the very time training of workplace health and safety representatives is needed most to cover their proposed new powers, Labour says.

Judith Collins announced yesterday a decision of ACC apparently made last year to cancel a programme of health and safety training provided by Business New Zealand and the Council of Trade Unions for workplace health and safety representatives. The government last year consulted on new health and safety legislation giving extended powers to workplace health and safety reps including the right to direct a fellow worker to cease work, the right to issue a provisional improvement notice, a statutory right to attend meetings between their employer and an inspector and a statutory right of access to any area of the workplace.

“The new health and safety Bill is due to be introduced into Parliament very soon and is expected to contain significant new powers for workplace health and safety reps and which reflect the seriousness with which everyone now seems to be taking the issue,” Labour spokesperson on labour issues Andrew Little says.

“For the new legislation to work and if we are to have any hope of reducing injury rates in the problem industries health and safety reps are going to need training even more, and so the decision by Judith Collins to cancel training beggars belief.

“ It is surprising that the consensus over health and safety regulation that has been steadily building since the Pike River disaster looks like it could be undone by Judith Collins’ ham-fisted efforts to score political points.

“The last thing we need is the great clunking fist of Judith Collins destroying what should be important protections for working people and their families.

“If the government wants to restore some confidence amongst workers that it is serious about workplace health and safety it will need to quickly tell people how health and safety reps will be trained in their new powers.”

ENDS

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