While the GCSB story exploded yesterday another, just as important, story was playing out as select committee hearings began for the the Health and Safety (Pike River Implementation) Bill.
In their submission, the second largest miner operating in New Zealand, Oceana Gold, was busy explaining why the new legislation shouldn’t apply to them. Claiming instead that they had a great safety record and that a union-paid onsite check inspector (elected from members onsite, by members onsite) couldn’t be trusted to look after the safety of their peers without politicising the job.
It was “scary”, their General Manager Bernie O’Leary declared, to think that a union member could have the power to shut down operations if they felt they were unsafe. Health and safety was best left to the company.
What select committee didn’t know was that even as O’Leary was sitting there claiming the moral high ground on safety, operations at his Reefton mine had been stopped by the MBIE because they were too dangerous – more precisely there was a significant risk of trucks rolling off the edge of a fifty metre drop.
But it’s the idea of workers having control of health and safety that’s “scary”. You couldn’t make this shit up.