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Review Panel reflects union concerns about forestry safety

Media Release: FIRST Union

Friday 6 June, 2014

Review Panel reflects union concerns about forestry safety crisis

The union representing forestry workers feels vindicated that its concerns have been reflecting in the Public Consultation Document released today by the Independent Forestry Safety Review.

For the last two years FIRST Union and the NZ Council of Trade Unions have highlighted the safety crisis that has been unfolding in our forestry industry. In the previous five years the forestry industry has claimed almost thirty lives and caused almost 1000 serious harm injuries.

FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid hopes that the Document will provide a solid foundation for forest owners, contractors and workers to collectively address some of the industry’s problems.

“For too long injured or deceased forestry workers have glibly been described as the “architects of their own demise”. This report demonstrates a thorough reversal of opinion.”

“The document makes clear that the problems in this industry are driven by multiple factors and not just worker behaviours.”

“We are pleased to see ample discussion on the problems generated by the competitive contracting model, the production pressure that generates for contractors and the associated downward pressure on wages and conditions.”

“The combination of inadequate wages and conditions for this extremely physical work is experienced by many workers as grinding fatigue, affecting both their mental and physical wellbeing.”

“The Panel’s discussion on worker participation and representation is critical. Without a voice in the industry this crisis will persist and workers will continue to pay the price.”

Over the next month FIRST Union and the Council of Trade Unions will be organising workers’ meetings to discuss the Panel’s findings and produce group submissions on those findings.

-Ends

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