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Minister could cause more workplace accidents

Minister's actions could cause more workplace accidents

Labour's Associate spokesperson for labour issues Darien Fenton says the Minister of Labour's recent actions could actually contribute to more workplace injuries and deaths.

"Kate Wilkinson's announcements in the past few weeks show she doesn't have a clue about what it takes to improve workplace health and safety," Ms Fenton said.

"Concern is growing that National is returning to the old-fashioned view that health and safety is best managed by the employer and excluding workers or elected health and safety representatives.

"This is confirmed by yesterday's announcement of the extension of the 90 day fire at will provisions to all workers and the restriction of access of unions to workplaces."

Darien Fenton says the ability of workers to raise health and safety concerns will be seriously undermined by workers employed under a 90 day trial period and restricting access by unions to workplaces.

"What worker anxious to keep their job will tell their employer there are safety issues in the workplace? And how will unions be able to fulfil their legal right to enforce health and safety laws if their access is left up to the employer to decide?

"National recently cut resources for workplace health and safety education by 56% and the Minister has admitted that this will impact on health and safety education in the workplace, where accidents actually happen.

"We are also seeing the systematic dismantling of ACC and a return to employers experience rating, the disestablishing of the National Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Committee, the scaling back of important health and safety provisions like compulsory meal and rest breaks and threats to annual and other leave provisions.

"There are a lot of things that contribute to improving workplace health and safety. Meeting with business leaders, as the Minister did yesterday is fine, but slashing things that make a real difference is ignoring the fact that improving workplace Health and Safety requires a multi-faceted approach, not just a talk-fest with the bosses" Ms Fenton says.


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