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E tū reaches out to SkyCity apprentice

E tū says it is reaching out to the young apprentice reported to be at the centre of investigations into the cause of the fire at Auckland’s International Convention Centre last week.

E tū special negotiator, construction, Joe Gallagher says nothing is proven about the cause of the fire and like everyone the union is waiting to learn the findings of inquiries into the blaze.

Meanwhile, he says E tū is there to provide support for construction workers and is offering that support to the apprentice, reportedly devastated by his role in the fire.

“Anyone can make a mistake and people in construction work in hazardous environments. The fire is a reminder of that. But it’s been good to see the main conversation about the young guy so far has been one of concern.

“There will be processes and investigations to navigate and that’s what we do. So, we’re appealing for anyone who knows a young worker who might need this help to put them in touch with us. We believe we can help.”

Joe said it is also timely for construction workers to check their workmates are ok, as the industry launches a new programme – Mates in Construction – to try to improve the sector’s mental health record and reduce its high suicide rate – at 6.9% of all suicides, the highest rate of any industry in New Zealand (rates in forestry and farming are marginally less at 6.8%).

Joe, who is on the campaign steering group, said the campaign is crucial to improving the mental health of workers in the sector.

“This industry is booming, and it should be healthy, with satisfied workers earning decent money. Instead, it’s precarious, fragmented and uncertain.

“That affects workers and if this campaign can encourage people to check on their workmates and ask, “are you ok?” then that’s a great thing. We all need to be more supportive of each other.”

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