Written By: Helen Kelly - Date published: 11:10 am, January 25th, 2014 - 29 comments
Categories: articles, health and safety, Media, Unions, workers' rights, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: CTU, forestry, NZ Logger
There is a magazine in NZ for logging. The NZ Logger magazine .
It has published attack after attack on us in its monthly editions since about August of last year. You have to read them to believe them. Industry players and Editorials suggesting we are the problem in forestry safety! One even suggested UNIONS were exploiting workers in the industry through our safety campaign.
I contacted the Editor to ask for a right of reply. His initial response to a simple request was a no and included:
We have moved away from the politics and the finger-pointing and I’ve asked those who supply material to us, including FICA, to take this on board, otherwise we risk turning off the very people we want to engage with, in order to make their workplaces much safer.
I suggested I could write an article without “politics and finger-pointing” and did so!
The Editor made some minor changes, sent them to me to approve (which I did), and I expected it to run this month.
Yesterday I get an email saying:
Just a quick note to let you know that I am unable to use your article in the February issue. Space was one problem, but also with the changes to the Terms of Reference, it became quickly outdated and that’s always a problem for a monthly magazine. The other point raised by my publisher was that it seemed the article was intended to drive people to the FIRST website, not to the actual Terms of Reference page. The forest is under huge pressure right now and that in itself is creating safety issues with so much attention focused on everyone and our aim is to try and provide practical steps for them to keep themselves safe on a day-to-day basis.
I wrote back saying they should run the article and it was still up-to-date. It was made clear they would not and probably never will and included:
The fact that my publisher believed the main purpose of the article was to drive people to tour the website was his opinion, but nowhere near being the governing factor as it could have been amended. I am waiting to see what happens over the coming weeks and how to reflect that in a magazine that has information written up to 4 weeks before it hits the news stands (sometimes more for feature articles). It is quite different from a daily or hourly news outlet. Against that, I have to balance what the aims of the magazine are and take into account our long-term partnerships with key organisations in the industry.
There are a lot of good things that happen in this industry and those people, many of whom are ordinary workers, not bosses or forest owners, are very hurt by some of the things that are being said. If we are not careful we are going to throw the baby out with the bath water and destroy a great industry that provides jobs for thousands. Yes we all want to see people rewarded better for what they do and many, in fact, are benefitting from more enlightened employers who do pay above average and provide a lot of other compensations that outsiders seems to overlook (personal work vehicles, transport to and from home to their place of work, clothing, insurance, paying for driving tests, and more). Yes more can and should be done on the wages front and it will happen. But people don’t respond positively to threats and I am one of those.
You can read the article yourself and I hope you will circulate it as well. Not because it is a brilliant article (it is not!) but because workers are entitled to information and without a union, they are completely reliant on the communication made available to them. If they are to genuinely participate and have a voice in this industry and to join the campaign for safe work, then they need to be able to get past the rhetoric and scare mongering of a magazine like this and access real information about it.