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Corporate manslaughter law good, but get workers home alive

24 June 2015

Corporate manslaughter law good, but get workers home alive first

Corporate manslaughter law is vital to ensure justice is done when workers are killed on the job, but it’s far more important that workers can stay safe, healthy and alive, says the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union.

“We absolutely support corporate manslaughter laws,” says Ged O’Connell, EPMU assistant national secretary. “But it seems like a diversion when the government is delaying the legislation which would stop many workplace fatalities in the first place.”

The EPMU has consistently called for corporate manslaughter laws, especially following the Pike River disaster. After Pike River Coal went bankrupt and charges were dropped against CEO Peter Whittall, ultimately no one was held to account for the deaths of 29 men. The Pike River Royal Commission found that worker participation was a significant factor in good workplace health and safety.

“Giving workers a strong voice in their own health and safety, with independent elected health and safety representatives who can step in when the risk is too great, is the way to stop workplace accidents,” says Ged O’Connell.

“The Prime Minister has argued this might be ‘too onerous’ for some businesses.

“It’s completely unacceptable to put business profits ahead of workers’ safety, and it’s completely backwards to focus on cracking down after someone has been killed at work rather than prevent their death from happening in the first place.”


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