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Government must put health and safety first

9 May 2013
Media Release

Government must put health and safety first

The government should put its money where its mouth is by giving priority to pass important healthy and safety legislation instead of controversial employment law changes which will cut workers’ pay, and ultimately undermine health and safety.

“The government must concentrate on making workplaces safer rather than pushing through laws to remove workers’ rest breaks and undermine their wages,” says Bill Newson, national secretary of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.

Submissions on the Health and Safety Bill closed today, and it is unlikely to be passed before the general election. Meanwhile, Minister of Labour Simon Bridges continues to progress his Employment Relations Amendment Bill, which takes away the right to regular breaks, undermines collective bargaining, and makes it harder for workers to challenge unfair dismissals or redundancies.

“The government’s got its priorities back to front,” says Bill Newson. “They’ve delayed the law which will keep workers safe in order to pass the law which removes basic work rights and makes work more dangerous.”

In its submission on the Health and Safety Reform Bill, the EPMU emphasised the need for strong, genuine worker participation, and a corporate manslaughter law to hold negligent employers accountable when workers die on the job.

“The Pike River disaster showed us all that workers need to have stronger opportunities to be involved in making their workplaces safer,” says Bill Newson. “This law needs to be strengthened and passed as soon as possible so no more Kiwi workers get maimed or killed on the job.”


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