EPMU asks Simon Bridges to stand tall on mine inspectors
October 2, 2013
EPMU asks Simon Bridges to stand tall on mine check inspectors
The union representing miners has welcomed the progress of the Health and Safety (Pike River Implementation) Bill through Select Committee, but is concerned that the Government has scaled back the role of mine check inspectors.
The Bill originally proposed that check inspectors, or industry health and safety representatives, oversee health and safety in all mines, whether coal, gold, underground or open-cast.
This role has now been shrunk to only cover underground coal mines.
“This is generally a good piece of legislation,” says Ged O’Connell, EPMU acting national secretary. “We’ve been really pleased with the Government’s commitment to improving health and safety in mining and preventing another Pike River.
“This means we’re really disappointed to see the important role of check inspectors limited to underground coal mines.
“The Select Committee report justifies this by stating that “unnecessary compliance costs” should be avoided, and that there is no risk of methane explosion in open-cast or gold mines.
“While underground coal mining has unique safety concerns, all mining has its risks. All miners deserve to be safe at work. We cannot sit back and hope for no more deaths – we have to take this opportunity to protect the whole industry.”
Reintroducing check inspectors was a key recommendation of the Pike River Royal Commission, which found that mining companies can be conflicted between the desire to increase production and the safety needs of their workers.
“The Select Committee report is very focused on avoiding compliance costs for mine operators. We’re concerned the Government has been lobbied hard by businesses who just don’t want someone from the union on their site – even when that person is only there to make sure the miners come home safe at the end of the day.
“We call on the Minister of Labour, Simon Bridges, to follow international best practice, reverse this change to his legislation and allow check inspectors at all mines.”
The EPMU has been calling for the reintroduction of check inspectors since the 1990s.
The Select Committee’s report is available on the Parliament website: http://www.parliament.nz/resource/0001876099