19 Feb 2013 – 12:24
The CTU is saddened but not surprised that already this year there have been two deaths and three serious injuries in the Forest Sector.
“The report of a forestry worker killed at work yesterday is tragically the second of many for the year to come, unless the Government steps up and puts a break on the manner in which the forestry industry is operating” Helen Kelly, CTU President said.
The CTU has called for an inquiry into the most dangerous industry in NZ in which 33 workers have died and 874 have been seriously injured since 2008.
“The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is not taking this matter seriously enough. Late last year they released new standards for the industry which are completely inadequate and far inferior to Australian and other international forestry standards. The Ministry is collaborating with the industry to fund “safety” breakfasts to which unions have been excluded and even the provision of information to workers on work rights has been denied, and it continues to blame workers for these deaths in its investigations without seeking out the underlying causes” Helen Kelly said.
“The industry response is always that “one death is too many” but what about 33?”
“We are again calling on the Minister of Labour to get together a group of experts who can carefully identify the issues in the industry that is causing this carnage. We know from the Pike River inquiry that there can be serious shortfalls in health and safety practice that require a strong response. The Forestry Industry is a Pike River every 5 years. The Forest owners have shown contempt for the criticism to date and need to have stricter rules and controls on the manner in which these trees are being harvested,” Helen Kelly said.