December 5, 2012
Forestry standards missing worker involvement
The union for forest and wood processing workers says new safety standards released today are missing a vital ingredient – worker participation.
The government today released the Approved Code of Practice for Safety and Health in Forest Operations at an industry conference in Rotorua.
FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid said the document was prepared without worker involvement.
“Our union submitted on the original discussion paper, but this was never acknowledged, nor have we been involved in the development of the standards since.”
“Workers are the ones risking their lives every day when they go to work in our forests and attempting to improve health and safety without the systematic involvement of workers is completely misguided.”
“This is a major issue for our union. We have represented workers in wood processing for decades. The forestry side of the industry has suffered since the deregulation in the 1980s which led to the deunionising of most workers doing tree felling work, and the lack of emphasis on health and safety has resulted in an unacceptable high injury and fatality rate.”
Robert Reid said that worker participation was a cornerstone of the Health and Safety in Employment Act and in a dangerous industry like forestry this emphasis should also be reflected in industry standards like those released today.
The National Distribution Union and Finsec joined forces in October 2011 to form New Zealand’s newest union – FIRST. The union represents 27,000 people working in Finance, Industrial (Textile and Wood) Retail, Stores & Transport. http://firstunion.org.nz