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Govt Must Act Against Transnational Recidivist

Govt Must Act Against This Transnational Recidivist

12 May 2000

Chief Reporter


The Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) welcomes the Government’s decision to hold a Ministerial Inquiry into the safety practices of American-owned Tranz Rail. Speaking personally, as a former railway worker and union official, I know how deadly rail yards can be, particularly for shunters. But things have got decidedly worse in the seven years since National sold our publicly owned rail system to Wisconsin Central. 5 workers killed in the past 7 months is truly appalling.

The annual Roger Award For The Worst Transnational Corporation In New Zealand has been held since 1997. Tranz Rail won it in 1997, and was a runner up in 1998 and 1999. In every case, its dreadful safety record was the reason. The judges for the 1997 award said: “The critical factor in choosing Tranz Rail was the calculated, callous attitude it has shown to the people it has injured and the families who have lost their loved ones through its negligence and workplace practices…The judges believe Tranz Rail has abdicated its moral responsibility by putting profits before people”. The 1998 judges gave it a Continuity Award for “the company’s persistent failure to address its appalling safety record”. And the 1999 judges gave it another Continuity Award “because its persistent failure to maintain the safety of its rolling stock has continued to put its customers and workers at risk of crippling injury and death…Tranz Rail’s record is a national scandal…”

Pretty consistent condemnation for three consecutive years from judges that have included, among others, Dunedin’s Mayor, Sukhi Turner. And always because of its (un)safety record. How many more rail workers have to die, as a result of staff cuts, the reduction in maintenance and safety procedures and the drive for profits to be exported to the US? The Ministerial Inquiry needs to do more than look into the safety record of this transnational recidivist offender (which is compiling an unenviable record in the courts). The 1997 Roger Award judges said: “We trust that control of New Zealand’s rail system will revert to responsible, accountable, local hands”.

The time has come for the Government to nullify that 1993 sale of our rail system. Tranz Rail’s rollcall of dead and injured workers alone is reason to take it back. We need a publicly owned rail system committed to service and safety. We don’t need an American-owned corporate criminal with blood on its hands.

Murray Horton Secretary/Organiser

CAFCA Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa PO Box 2258, Christchurch email: cafca@chch.planet.org.nz

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