July 5, 2013
Pike River sentencing shows need for corporate manslaughter law
The miners’ union is calling for a corporate manslaughter law in the wake of Pike River Coal Ltd’s sentencing in Greymouth today.
EPMU assistant national secretary Ged O’Connell says a law change is needed to ensure those responsible for workplace deaths can be held to account.
"It is a matter of public record that the people running Pike River Coal put production over the safety of their workforce, leading directly to the deaths of 29 men. Given the gravity of the offence and the very real impact on families, a hefty penalty and reparations was the only appropriate sentence.
“However, there is little justice in sentencing a shell company that is now in receivership. Families of the men who died at Pike River have every right to demand those responsible for this tragedy are held to account.
“Pike River Coal’s directors should not be able to hide behind shabby legal structures and carry on as if nothing ever happened. It’s time we had corporate manslaughter laws and personal liability for directors so they can be held accountable for their actions.”
The EPMU is campaigning for stronger mine safety laws and will be submitting on the Pike River Implementation Bill.
“This case shows why we need stronger mining regulations, an independent and well-resourced health and safety inspectorate and worker-elected check inspectors. Companies like Pike River Coal Ltd simply can’t be trusted to put safety first,” says Ged O’Connell.