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Call for Govt to regulate forestry employment conditions

CTU Media Release

27 November 2013

Call for Government to regulate forestry employment conditions

With news of the eighth forestry worker killed at work this year alone, CTU President Helen Kelly is calling on Minister of Labour, Simon Bridges, for immediate interim regulation of the forestry industry’s employment practices to put a stop to the carnage.

Helen Kelly says “a 63-year-old worker was killed in a forestry accident in a forest in Kaingaroa yesterday (Tuesday). This man is the eighth forestry worker killed at work this year, along with over 90 seriously harmed,  and I’m asking Simon Bridges, how many more have to be killed before the Government agrees we have a problem that needs urgent attention?”

“We need a swift, decisive and effective response like we saw with Pike River. The men who work in the forests, and their families, deserve for these deaths to be taken seriously by the Government. The Government needs to step up and regulate for safe working conditions.”

“The industry recently announced a review into the sector, which is a good start, but they have done this despite the Minister who has refused to lead it, and it is too slow in getting off the ground. We need action to stop these deaths now.”

“The Government is the regulator of health and safety in New Zealand.  It is insufficient to say the Industry alone can self-regulate to get this right.  The conflict of interest is startlingly apparent with the accident rates and the people of New Zealand deserve a Government that takes their workplace safety seriously.  The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1987 and the Employment Relations Act 2000 allow Government to regulate standards across an industry and it should look to establish decent conditions including payment for driving time and delays caused by weather, provision of equipment including wet weather and other safety gear, shelter, fatigue management, provision for productivity controls and training standards.  These would make an immediate difference and can then be reviewed if the Industry Review gets underway and finds additional measure are needed.”

“Each man killed deeply affects another family and community. It’s time the Government took this seriously enough to act and properly regulate to keep our forestry workers safe at work.”

“All six deaths in the last two years in the Bay of Plenty forests have been in forests owned by the industry’s biggest players,” Helen Kelly said.

ENDS

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