November 15, 2007
Cynical attack on mine safety shows National's true colours - EPMU
The National Party's attack on an initiative to help improve mine safety in China shows the party's lack of commitment to decent labour standards, says the union that represents New Zealand's miners.
The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union is responding to National's criticism of a Department of Labour-funded initiative to help improve Chinese mine safety which involved the EPMU, the Council of Trade Unions and Solid Energy.
EPMU national secretary Andrew Little says his union has taken a strong role in assisting Chinese miners to improve their health and safety, and this is something New Zealanders should be proud of.
"Chinese miners work under appalling conditions that led to the death of nearly 5000 miners in the last year alone. As a country with a strong health and safety record in this area it is only decent for us to use our expertise to help Chinese miners develop a strong workplace health and safety culture.
"It is also spurious for National to complain that helping Chinese miners improve their safety is somehow bad for the environment. Good health and safety tends to go hand in hand with greater environmental responsibility and will not result in any increase in the amount of coal produced.
"The EPMU helps Chinese miners because we value human life. National's criticism of this is astonishingly short-sighted and petty, and makes clear where their party stands on decent labour standards - they don't care."
The EPMU represents nearly ever mine worker in New Zealand.