Thursday, 4 April 2013, 12:46 pm
Press Release: First Union
A campaign calling for an inquiry into health and safety in forestry stepped up a notch today with the launch of a “What Killed Ken Callow?” billboard on Auckland’s Khyber Pass.
The billboard, launched this morning by the Council of Trade Unions and funded by donations across the country through OneBigVoice.Com, is part of a campaign calling for Minister of Labour Simon Bridges to initiate an inquiry into forest safety.
Gisborne forestry worker Ken Callow died in 2011 and his parents were in Auckland today for the launch.
Three forestry workers have died since January this year and FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid said an inquiry was needed to address the alarming rate of injuries and fatalities in forestry.
“Deaths in forestry are of the magnitude of a Pike River disaster every 6 to 7 years. Forestry is a dangerous industry, and we cannot accept that leaving the responsibility of health and safety to forest contractors alone is acceptable.”
“Forestry workers do long hours to earn a living. Fatigue is a major issue in the industry, yet the government’s new safety standards for forestry put the onus back on workers to manage fatigue, with minimal requirements for employers.”
“We want the government to commit to an inquiry, and for the forest industry to commit to fully participate. As we saw with Pike River, independent inquiries can be extremely useful tools to improve safety. The families of forestry workers who have died or been seriously injured at work deserve this,” Robert Reid said.
21 forestry workers died between 2008 and 2012, and there have been 3 further deaths this year. And 879 forestry workers have been seriously injured since 2008, as at the end of 2012. Our forestry death toll is 34 times higher than the UK.
Late last year the government released the Approved Code of Practice for Safety and Health in Forest Operations at an industry conference in Rotorua. The document, and the subsequent safety breakfasts this year, was prepared without any involvement from unions for workers in the wood sector, despite several attempts made to be involved.
The National Distribution Union and Finsec joined forces in October 2011 to form New Zealand’s newest union – FIRST. The union represents 27,000 people working in Finance, Industrial (Textile and Wood) Retail, Stores & Transport. http://firstunion.org.nz