Tuesday, 23 April 2013, 2:45 pm
Press Release: First Union
As Workers Memorial Day approaches this Sunday, a union in the wood sector is warning that little is being learned from the spate of deaths in our forests.
Yesterday a 23 year old forestry worker died near Waitara in Taranaki. He was the fourth worker to die this year.
Rawiri Daniels, Wood Secretary for FIRST Union, said the union extended its sympathy to the family of the worker.
He said FIRST Union was deeply concerned about the recent deaths in forestry, and supported the Council of Trade Unions’ call for a full inquiry into forest safety.
“We cannot accept that the high number of deaths and serious injuries in forestry are acceptable.”
“Today the government has released an update on their Pike River Implementation Plan. Forest deaths are of the magnitude of a Pike River tragedy every six years, but the government is simply not taking forest safety seriously enough.
“It is a dangerous industry, and leaving the responsibility of health and safety to forest contractors alone isn’t working.”
He said FIRST Union was willing to work with forest owners and contractors to improve safety, but despite forest stewardship certification requiring forest owners, their managers and contractors to facilitate workers having access to unions for advice and support, this has so far been met with opposition from industry.
This Sunday the Council of Trade Unions are hosting a memorial service in Auckland for the families of forest workers who have died.
Earlier this year the Council of Trade Unions launched a campaign calling for the government and forestry industry to launch an inquiry into the huge numbers of accidents occurring in forestry. Details of the campaign are here http://www.onebigvoice.com/campaign/whatkilledkencallow, including the personal stories of family members affected by forest fatalities.
Fatality statistics are here http://www.osh.govt.nz/resources/stats/fatalities-summary.shtml and serious injury statistics are here http://www.osh.govt.nz/resources/stats/serious-harm-per-industry.shtml
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