Fool’s gold

Written By: - Date published: 8:35 am, August 2nd, 2013 - 12 comments
Categories: business, health and safety - Tags:

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.

12 comments on “Fool’s gold”

  1. Te Reo Putake 1

    Crikey, Irish, that’s shocker. Isn’t lying to a select committee a criminal offence?

  2. vto 2

    You are correct that that is unbelievable. The man is a fool – brainwashed.

    Remember though that this is a corporation talking, not a human. Corporations exist solely to make money. They are incapable of anything else and this should be borne in mind. His submission aint worth shit.

    This link here indicates the approach to all things mining by their owners – they don’t actually care about the environment or their workers. All sorts of shit goes on that never gets near the media. There are countless small ops all over the coast – it is like the wild west. You would shudder …
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/8986382/West-Coast-councillor-fights-mining-charges

    This same West Coast Regional Councillor, Allan Birchfield, the gold miner, about two years ago also went and stood behind a farmer in the dock being prosecuted by Birchfield’s own Council ffs for altering the course of the Taramakau River without consent. Complete and utter breach of the distinction between the elected Councillors and the executive of the Council. Unbelievable. Wild west. Not seen elsewhere in NZ – it is a throwback to the fifties…..

  3. Bill 3

    But…but…workers, being too stupid to recognise a 50m vertical drop would – on the basis of a tree falling in a forest with no one around blah blah – be perfectly safe, as they would be unable to plummet over that which cannot be recognised. It is only now – the danger having been brought to their attention – that operations will have to cease. Had management been left to not point out the potential harm that might result from being able to identify a potential source of harm, then any unaware worker slipping over the edge of the drop would have been in no position to remember how to fall, and thus, perfectly safe and able to simply step out ans away from the cab of any plummeting truck merely puzzled, perhaps, as to why their truck should suddenly have felt like a truck that was falling through thin air.

  4. Darien Fenton 4

    Wish I had known at the Select Committee! But I did know their EPMU members had submitted with a completely different view about check inspectors – seems Oceania hadn’t asked their opinions.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10906753

  5. Malcolm 5

    Workers already have the power to shut down operations if they think working is unsafe.

    Section 84 of the ERA.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      When was the last time this was ever used.

      • KJT 5.1.1

        Well I can name at least twice, by senior people, since the ECA, in my day job..

        One person, who did it, has never worked in New Zealand again!

        Another was blacklisted and worked elsewhere for 15 years. After getting over the health problems through overwork, and contracting on other jobs, he finally got a job back with the one NZ company which, occasionally, accepts non “yes” men.

        A couple more by those junior enough to have nothing to lose.

        Not much difference to mining really. The “regulator” chases “cover their arse” paperwork over minor things, and refuses to do their job. Which is addressing the real health and safety issues that occur. Specifically rest hours and manning. Which was very apparent when you dig deeper into the Rena incident.

        Concerns are expressed to the regulator and through the Unions regularly, but basically, no one wants to know.
        It doesn’t help that it is a world wide problem and NZ shipowners are competing with overseas ships allowed on our coastal runs who also, get away with it, with “flag of convenience” registration.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      How many workers, that aren’t part of a union, know that?

  6. Malcolm 6

    But yeah, a totally disgusting attitude from Oceana. Methinks they deserve a little picket outside their offices.

  7. Murray Olsen 7

    The workers onsite are the best qualified to know if something is unsafe. Corporate types think risk is something to do with managing hedge funds. Why do we trust any of them, let alone turn one into our prumstah?

    • srylands 7.1

      Most “corporate types” in NZ wouldn’t know what a hedge fund is.

      I agree that H&S reps should be able to shut down operations in high risk industries like mining. You stop “trivial” shut downs by making sure the reps have good training.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Labour Ministers of the Crown announced
    Today caucus has elected the 21 Labour Ministers of the Crown who will serve in the new government’s executive, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern. “Across the board these members have the experience, expertise and drive I want in our team ...
    2 days ago
  • Agreement with New Zealand First to support a Labour-led Government
    Labour is pleased to have successfully concluded negotiations with New Zealand First as a critical step to forming a Labour-led progressive Government, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern. “I thank the New Zealand First Party and Leader Winston Peters for agreeing ...
    3 days ago
  • Bird of the Year – Loving Aotearoa
    I love that I live in a country where there is a competition for ‘Bird of the Year’. Right now, around New Zealand, there are teams and campaigns promoting the attributes of our native birds; from the famous kākāpo creeping ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    5 days ago
  • A Post Election Update
    It’s the start of another week and I wanted to give you a quick update on what’s happening in relation to our efforts to form a new Government for New Zealand. We’ve been working hard to ensure that the issues ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    6 days ago
  • Labour welcomes final election results
    Today’s final election count has strengthened the mandate for change, and for negotiations to continue in earnest, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “We congratulate Angie Warren-Clark on becoming Labour’s 14th additional MP, which expands the Labour caucus to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Lewis Moeau – he aituā, he aituā!
    Kua tau ngā pōkeao ki runga i te marae o Te Poho o Taharākau ki roto o Manutūkē, oti rā ki runga o Puketapu me Manawaru, ngā maunga tipua o te hautipua kua riro nei. E heke ana ngā roimata me ngā ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Statement on coalition negotiations
    “This morning I spoke with New Zealand First Leader, Winston Peters. We will look to hold a meeting between our respective teams later this week, while we wait for special votes to be counted. “Special votes remain an important part ...
    3 weeks ago