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Did Brownlee leave workers in dark over asbestos?



Transport Spokesperson

Did Brownlee leave workers in dark over asbestos?

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee needs to tell KiwiRail workers and the public when he became aware degraded asbestos on some Chinese-purchased DL locomotives had become dangerous, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Darien Fenton.

“KiwiRail apparently knew the results of testing three days before either workers exposed to the potentially lethal material or the public were told. One assumes the Minister also knew at that stage.

“I understand that there was initially some reluctance from KiwiRail to ground the trains while they underwent further testing.

“It was also proposed workers be advised that it was safe to operate them.

“It took the insistence of the workers’ union for the worker’s health and safety to be put ahead of pressures to deliver on freight schedules. Given asbestos can be lethal they were right to do so.

“Now there’s been a further scare with work to recover a train that rolled in South Auckland halted following the discovery of a significant amount of asbestos-laden material in soil beneath it.

“It is Kiwi workers who will have to remove asbestos on the Chinese-purchased locomotives. While the company may compensate KiwiRail, that in no way compensates for the risks to the lives of KiwiRail workers and their families.

“Gerry Brownlee needs to assure Kiwis that health and safety comes ahead of profits and cost cutting, and assure those rail workers he is on their side,” Darien Fenton said.


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