Iain Lees-Galloway: how many meathooks to the head will it take?

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, June 19th, 2015 - 22 comments
Categories: health and safety, workers' rights - Tags: , , ,

Some strong stuff from Labour’s spokesperson for Labour, Iain Lees-Galloway, in Question Time yesterday.

Those final supplementaries may have been disallowed, but they still demand an answer.

Transcript courtesy of Scoop:

IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY (Labour—Palmerston North) to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety : In the four and a half years since the Pike River disaster, how many New Zealanders have been killed or injured at work?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety): In the period since 19 November 2010 there have been 228 workplace fatalities and 23,416 serious injuries notified to WorkSafe New Zealand.

Iain Lees-Galloway : Would passing stronger health and safety laws help prevent injuries like the following injuries that all happened to workers who worked for the same employer: Alister Doran, whose arm was sliced open while he was working at the Malvern freezing works, David Brine who suffered respiratory problems after being poisoned at the Malvern freezing works, Jason Matahiki who was impaled in the back of the head with a 10 centimetre hook, dragged along the chain like a carcass, and had to wait—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I have got to take this opportunity of reminding the member of Standing Order 380: questions must be concise. I have allowed the member one or two examples, because I think that reinforces his simple question as to whether these accidents would have occurred if the law was stronger. But I cannot allow the member to carry on if he is going to carry on with the number of examples that he is giving. Bring the question to a conclusion.

Iain Lees-Galloway : If so, why are we still waiting for urgently needed improvements to health and safety law 4½ years after the Pike River mine disaster?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE : To the extent that a very strong legislative framework is important in improving health and safety, yes. But laws alone will not prevent the types of deaths and injuries the member describes, any more than road rules prevent death and injury on the road. What will improve our health and safety record is changes in behaviour and attitude, and that is what I am promoting.

Iain Lees-Galloway : Do these horrific workplace injuries and the many thousands like them indicate to him that the Health and Safety Reform Bill needs to be weakened, as a faction of the National caucus would like to see happen, or strengthened, which is what the Labour Party wants?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE : I do not accept the prefacing statement in that question. The bill will be returned to this House in an appropriate form to ensure significant improvements in the legislative framework for health and safety.

Barbara Stewart : What additional funding has been contributed by WorkSafe New Zealand to the new $500,000 rural mental health programme, considering that 169 farmers have committed suicide since 2008, compared with 112 agricultural occupational deaths, and if mental health is not a consideration for workplace relations and safety, why not?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE : In relation to the first part of the question, of course, the taxpayer contributes that money—whatever the vehicle is through which it goes. I applaud the Minister for Primary Industries and the Minister of Health for that announcement earlier this week. In respect of the latter, yes indeed, it is. Positive mental health is important to good physical health at work.

Iain Lees-Galloway : Has the lobbying he has received from National Party MPs at the behest of employers with terrible safety records led him to agree to weaken the— [Health and Safety reform bill?]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! That question is simply out of order.

Iain Lees-Galloway : When he says he wants a balanced framework for workplace safety, does not that really mean that National is weighing Kiwis’ lives against the interests of his corporate allies; and how many meat hooks to the head will it take— [to keep Talley’s happy?]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! That question is also out of order.

22 comments on “Iain Lees-Galloway: how many meathooks to the head will it take?”

  1. aerobubble 1

    Children disabled for life by neglect, all to fund the dairy and finance sectors, oh and now the meat industries churning workers through to ACC dependency.

    Wasn’t there a narrative about a King who given a baby, chops it in two inorder to increase growth and stay rich. Rather than listen to common sense, because the market would save the top half thanks to medical advances, even if the child was disabled for the rest of its life.

    Market solutions offset negatives to others motivated by profit incentives that can only be dealt with by open government, free press and an active population. All three now under attack, mass surveillance means every person on the planet has a data file on them in China, and the west. Press barons desperate to hold onto power and wealth shutting down means to hold govt accountable, a population too stressed by earning and surviving to look up and see what even the Pope finally gets. The merging govt with corporations in the 80s was like choosing to cut the baby in half, abdicate responsibility for setting market standards. And it was a giant lie, middle east oil, high density cheap energy spurred global growth, where was the Pope then? It sure wasn’t the financial coup that brought us growth but they sure held back spreading the advances of the west to the third world.

  2. Charles 2

    “What will improve our health and safety record is changes in behaviour and attitude, and that is what I am promoting.”

    By making workplaces more dangerous? Oh right yeah, the invisible hand of the… um… the free hand of the … unemcumbered individual to make personal behavioural changes. But not when it’s inconvenient to production. Hey, guy gets stuck on hook, don’t stop the line, he just made a bad choice of behaviour. People die, everyday, 23,000 or so serious injuries over the past four years – all bad behavioural choices. What’s worse is they then try to get compensation, to cover up their choice of laziness, so they can afford to eat, dirty lazy scumbags. [sarc]

    Been a while since a Nat MP has shown his face in my neck of the woods. Gee I hope one of them doesn’t make a bad behavioural choice and knock on my door in 2017. I’d put a “warning – steep stairway” sign up, but it’s better they make personal choices themselves, to avoid injury. Things happen. Sandstorms, pneumonia, slipping on stairs… not out of the ordinary. Also been a while since the right have told us we’re just jealous we aren’t them. I guess it’s hard for even them to believe it anymore. Who would aspire to that.

    • miravox 2.1

      Changing attitudes and behaviours? Of people like those in charge of Pike River? Woodhouse should be pushing the new regulations without delay. These people need a new legislative and workplace context to ensure their attitudes and behaviours are correspond with their responsibilites.

    • maui 2.2

      Hehe, brilliant.

  3. Tracey 3

    Does anyone know if the number of workplace deaths and serious injuries has been static or is there any correlation between the drop off of union membership and workplace serious injuries/deaths?

    • AmaKiwi 3.1

      Excellent question, Tracey.

    • McFlock 3.2

      well, fairly static at 50/year over the last five years.

      Time series data before that is a bit more difficult to google

      • Tracey 3.2.1

        Thanks McFlock. I started at google but ran out of time. Am hoping the CTU can share their tracking stats. IMO we need to look from at least the introduction of the ECA 1990

        • McFlock

          yeah it also returns a lot of extras without tight filters to govt.nz

        • Atiawa

          Manual jobs in meat works, factories, forestry and the wharf have been replaced by new technology and automation, which would make it difficult for any comparisons.
          I remember going to the pub at lunch time for a jug and a pie back in the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s when working in the freezing works and knew guys who would down half a dozen big bottles during their lunch hour. Workers would be sacked nowadays if they were to indulge similarly.
          Of course new automation wasn’t introduced to make workers lives more fulfilling or interesting. Increasing production and the speed that job’s are now required to be worked at, invariably leads to greater risk of injury, especially repetitive strain type injuries.

          • Tracey

            Good point about the automation.

            OTOH in Germany it is not uncommon for workers to have a pint at lunchtime.

  4. Smilin 4

    Its simply the implementation now of what will be completely legal and out of the govt hands when the TPPA is fully operational
    International CORPORATIONS overriding the ability of a sovereign govt to do the right thing because in the present govt it wont do what people have to do to earn a living RISK THEIR LIVES or govern to protect the lives of workers.
    Because this is, we have a WW1 thinking govt because many of the members have learnt nothing from history either their own or as a member of a nation which has sacrificed plenty
    This govt has little or no NZers with a sense of history prior to the advent of the national party and if they do they ought to be ashamed of themselves
    Corporate cop out lacKEY pack of whatever dog tucker name you want to give them

  5. Weepus beard 5

    Good on Ian L-G. It about time someone other than the speaker got angry in parliament.

  6. adam 6

    As a person who gives the labour party Mp’s as much grief as the Tory scum.

    I must say I was impressed by one labour MP who actually sound left wing – well done Iain Lees-Galloway.

    Actually caring about workers, and them going home at night after work to loved ones. No one should die for a job – or be seriously disabled, because some slack employer did not want to spend a few bucks making a job safe.

    And may I say well done for pointing the finger at Talley – that creton and his ilk, are the true romper stompers in this country.

    • miravox 6.1


    • tc 6.2

      Yup contrast that with the lack of fire and passion from other opposition spokespeople on their portfolios….novopay, ryalls chooks coming home, housing etc

      Good on ILG that’s what an opposition should be doing all the time to wake the sheeple up.

    • Tracey 6.3

      Agree.Labour is too scared to say anything pro worker lest they be accused of being pro union… so they say nothing (usually) which is a win for those who don’t honour/value/respect their employees as anything other than a unit on a spreadsheet.

  7. Stuart Munro 7

    How many meathooks to the head will it take?


    When the scum running these companies know that they run the same risk they’ll be all in favour of safety.

    • locus 7.1

      +1 Stuart

      “228 workplace fatalities and 23,416 serious injuries”…… in less than 5 years!
      ….and in a country with only a few hundred thousand employees in high hazard industries!

      only an utterly shallow unsympathetic sociopath would openly admit such shameful and shocking numbers – and then suggest that the problem is to do with behaviour of employees rather than the fact that management in profit driven businesses are completely incapable of self-regulation if this involves a cost or might impact the bottom line

      every single death and serious injury is, and was, avoidable – every fatality is, and will be, a shattered family

      utterly reprehensible inexcusable ignorance from the government minister

      and as for the speaker…… pathetic partisan pm’s pimp…. spit

  8. Skinny 8

    Pretty good questioning by Iain. He is a bit green but doing OK. The meat workers are a bit fragmented maybe they should have a central hui tap the various tribes for funding.

    Talley’s are picking off one freezing works at a time. As the saying goes united we stand divided you beg!

    Good to see Fenton getting stuck in too their cause. God knows they need all the help they can get.

  9. Brigid 9

    Woodhouse says “…any more than road rules prevent death and injury on the road.” Why do we have them then? What an idiot.

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