web analytics

Is it always better late than never?

Written By: - Date published: 6:26 pm, January 29th, 2014 - 15 comments
Categories: accountability, Economy, health and safety, Unions, workers' rights - Tags: , , ,

Minister of Labour Simon Bridges today said he welcomed the Review of Forestry Safety and that he has asked Worksafe NZ to review the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) into the forestry sector to “clarify them”.

Chris Finlayson was the Minister when the current regulations (ACOP) were signed off new in December 2012.  He said at the time:

“This Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) has been developed in partnership with industry representatives and other agencies and it focuses on improving safety practices and reducing workplace accidents in the industry. It will contribute towards the Minister of Labour’s target of reducing workplace deaths and serious injuries by at least 25 percent by 2020”.

Todd McLay officially launched them saying

“The launch of this ACOP is a big step towards reducing the work toll in the forestry sector. Too many workers are seriously injured or killed while undertaking forestry operations, particularly in the tasks of tree felling and breaking out. The new code aims to ‘lift the bar’ and introduce standards that will help the sector improve its health and safety record,”

Meanwhile the CTU and forestry families were raising concern about the quality of the ACOP in every quarter and being slapped down as more and more workers were hurt.

For the record:

12 December 2012: Workplace Health and Safety Council Meeting minutes;

In a session with David Smol (CEO of MBIE):  “Helen Kelly used the example of the forestry sector … She was also disappointed that the recent ACOP for forestry did not make mention of employee participation or provide details about working conditions and worker well-being.  David Smol said that MBIE will review the forestry ACOP, content and consultation and would speak to Helen Kelly at a later date. 

In a session with the Acting Minister of Labour (Finlayson):  “Helen Kelly again brought up the forestry ACOP with the Minister.  She expressed her concern about the injury rates in the industry.  She feels the ACOP is not specific or detailed enough.  She told the Council that the CTU is developing a campaign for forestry families.  She is worried about the fatigue of workers and well-being not being addressed”

 18 December 2012.  Letter from Chris Finlayson in response including:

The ACOP provides practical safety advice to both employers and employees to ensure they are complying with the HSE Act… Working conditions and worker health issues are addressed in section 2.9 of the forestry ACOP, which clearly places responsibilities on employers to provide training on nutrition and hydration, stress, fatigue and substance abuse.”

21 December 2012: I replied including:

Our view is that the structure of working in these industries has denied workers access to basic work rights including to safe working conditions and that this is a core contributor to the accident record…The action plan and forestry ACOPS continue this situation…. Specifically we do not agree with you that the ACOP provides practical safety advice to employers and employers to comply with the Act… Secondly it ignores the serious issues of employment rights including for example fatigue….There is no mention … of maximum rests between shifts, of maximum working hours or rotation of tasks… nothing about night work or shift work… and very little about managing adverse weather”.

20 Feb 2013 Simon Bridges writes back including:

“I am advised that the Ministry is not aware of any evidence suggesting the differences between accident rates in Australia and NZ that can be attributed to the difference in standards between the two countries and how there are articulated though codes of practice [but apart from that, no answers are provided to my criticisms of the ACOP]”

 I raise the matter  in a meeting with ACC Minister Judith Collins (I know!). 

On 29 April 2013 she writes including:

“The Government is taking action to make forestry safer.  In December 2012 MBIE launched a new ACOP.  This was developed in conjunction with ACC and the Forest Owners Association and had worker input”. 

On 2 May, I visit a forest crew with Simon Bridges – it is a good crew but does not have the required worker participation system.

On 3 May 2013 I follow up with a letter including:

“I don’t think it is possible for you to now assert the ACOP is working.  Effectively the contractor we saw is breaking the law but probably complying with the ACOP… An inquiry into this industry could be done in many ways… I hope today you will reconsider this proposal and we of course are happy to talk more about how this might be done.” 

On 9 May 2013 Simon Bridges replies including:

“The ACOP cements this commitment [to work collaboratively with industry and workers to drive a lift in safety culture]…. It is the first step of the long term commitment between industry and the Ministry to change behaviour… It will take time to embed, but I believe it is starting to make a real difference… As I have previously stated there will be no Government inquiry into the forestry sector….”

 On 3 July the TV programme Third Degree confirms the Forest Owners will hold their own independent inquiry.  I text Simon Bridges:

“Hi Simon.  Helen Kelly here.  Tonight forest owners said they want independent inquiry.  Can we talk about it and wee if we can agree something?  Better than this argy bargy and it will make a difference.  Canada did it 3 years ago and ACC rate halved”

 He replied:  “Hi Helen.  My position for the Govt hasn’t changed.  I don’t believe an inquiry will achieve what people who care the most think it will.  Simon”

 I replied:  “That’s a big call given even the industry thinks it would be useful.  I would have liked to have floated a proposal to you but up to you.”

 On 7 July I give Bill English a briefing paper on the ACOP urging him to raise the matter with Bridges and get it improved, including:

“The recently released COP [ACOP] will not make the difference… the ACOP also ignores the serious issue of employment rights including for example fatigue…The forest owners have now said they will agree an independent inquiry.  We need Government support for this”. 

 Today (after the most year of catastrophe in our forests ) Labour Minister Simon Bridges welcomed the announcement of an industry-led inquiry into forestry safety…and said the ACOP will be reviewed

 “I encourage the inquiry to report back swiftly so that Government can seriously consider all recommendations as quickly as possible,” Mr Bridges says.

 “[As a result of non compliance with the ACOP] … I have directed WorkSafe NZ to urgently review the Approved Code of Practice to clarify what is expected from forest owners, managers and operators under the law.

 

 

 


History

15 comments on “Is it always better late than never?”

  1. One Anonymous Knucklehead 1

    Looks like brave Sir Simon Bridges did his best to avoid his personal responsibility, and failed, and ran away.

  2. karol 2

    Result! Some good news after a disastrous year in forestry.

    A long slog, but finally something positive, Helen.

  3. Tracey 3

    Unfortunately the actual timeline you outline will never see the light of day… so smiley and chuckles and the gang can pretend to trying to save workers.

  4. Ad 4

    Great record there Helen.

    I can’t think of a similar moment when a Minister failed to act in an industry with that many deaths.

    Also astonishing that the Minister could not even take the lead when the industry begged for him to do so.

    Mr Bridges is one fo the worst signs of intrnal renewal within National that I have seen. Simon Bridges’ social awareness – with the greatest respect to all my relatives in Otangaroa valley – makes Dr Finlayson look like a Swanndri-sleeping dope-rolling barefoot hillbilly pip-spitter.

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    Death after death after death with no response other than paperwork shows how weak as a force, despite some valiant efforts, organised labour is in this country at the moment. The entire forestry sector should have been on a go-slow work to rule 6 months ago.

  6. Philj 6

    Xox
    Helen, do you really think the Labour party will really serve the workers interests? Some strong action is needed, not verbiage, from Labour

  7. NZ Forestry Joke. 50% operators fail OSH inspection. So 50% should lose licence. SIMPLE. Can’t believe media/unions falling for “review”.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Correct.

      Whole forestry sector should have been on strike 6 months ago, after the umpteenth death. What on earth does it take now to get an industry on a go-slow, work to rule or strike.

      Even mass deaths don’t seem to make the grade. Instead we have to wait for Tory bureaucrats to pretend to make an effort with wet bus tickets and when they do its seen as a sign of progress (!)

      • Tracey 7.1.1

        Whats needed is across industry response… construction still has a bad record too…

        Some groups with faces of those who have died and suffered serious injury in last few years.

        • Colonial Viper 7.1.1.1

          Yep. Solidarity across industries. This is exactly what the old labour movement understood to the core as the only effective strategy, and a few people today do still understand.

          • Tracey 7.1.1.1.1

            Until made illegal…

            Maybe one day it will be illegal to make a company decision based Only on the size of the profit to shareholder. One aspect but not the only criteria.

  8. Maryanne Butler-Finlay 8

    Game on Simon. United we stand!

  9. adam 9

    Good on ya for keeping up the pressure Helen. But have to agree with Kevin – a review seems like a slap with a wet bus ticket.

  10. Tracey 10

    Its worth a one page add in a paper… or a poster in workplaces.

  11. xtasy 11

    Well, I appreciate you do some good work with the CTU and your agenda, Helen, but I worry that this will be used by the industry to “white wash” their failings and walk away looking like almost “do gooders”, while the state and unions need more input and power.

    This is to me only one first step in the right direction, and it shows how powerful the business lobby has become, to exert a lot of power, while unions are left begging to the minister and others.

    Time for a change, and time for workers, also contractors, to realise, united we stand, divided we fall!

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts


History

  • Cool heads needed on online learning plans
    The National government is ploughing ahead with a plan to legislate for the introduction of online schools against official advice and despite being presented with research that shows online schooling models overseas have weaker results than their traditional counterparts, Labour’s ...
    14 hours ago
  • Worst September road toll in years
    The deadliest September on our roads since 2009 has meant tragedy for the family and friends of 25 people killed this month 17 more deaths than at the same time last year, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Sue Moroney. “We are ...
    14 hours ago
  • Crime states paint a dismal picture
    The crime statistics released today paint a picture of crime on the increase as Judith Collin’s promise of more front line cops fails to materialise, says Labour’s Police spokesman Stuart Nash “There were over 9500 more burglaries, almost 4,000 more ...
    2 days ago
  • Nick Smith must urgently intervene to avoid housing delays
    National must urgently legislate to make the unitary plan operable while allowing a high court challenge against to make its way through the legal process, Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Auckland desperately needs this plan right away to ...
    3 days ago
  • Kiwis drowning in debt in out of control housing market
    New statistics reveal Kiwis are taking on record levels of debt in order to get into the housing market, as prices continue to outstrip incomes, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Stats NZ has today revealed real estate loans ...
    3 days ago
  • Planning reform report a turning point?
     A joint report from business and environmentalists on the Resource Management laws could be a turning point for both planning and environmental protection, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker.  “The four organisations, the Environmental Defence Society, the Property Council, the ...
    3 days ago
  • Privatisation and deregulation not the solution
    Deregulation, privatisation, and shifting more of the cost onto students isn’t the way to address inequality, lack of innovation and declining participation in tertiary education, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    3 days ago
  • Homeownership out of reach for middle income Aucklanders
    New figures show that even middle income Aucklanders are finding themselves unable to afford to buy a first home as National’s housing crisis rolls on, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “New data released by interest.co.nz shows that the lower ...
    3 days ago
  • More toilet cleaners or more tradespeople?
    The Government is not doing enough to help the construction and trades sector meet its workforce demand, instead steering students towards cleaning toilets, says Labour’s Skills and Training spokesperson Jenny Salesa. ...
    3 days ago
  • More cracks appear in health funding
    News that the Waikato District Health Board could lose $2.7 million from its budget because it failed to make an elective target is downright disturbing, says Labour’s Acting Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.  “This is a DHB that has tried ...
    4 days ago
  • Student debt cracks the billion mark
    New figures showing that student loan defaulters have now clocked over $1 billion in debt highlights National's failure to combat spiralling student loan debt, Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. "Threatening to arrest returning student loan borrowers at the ...
    5 days ago
  • Foreign Students just a commodity to National
    National MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi has confirmed that his party sees international students as nothing more than a commodity, says Labour's Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. "Mr Bakshi’s appalling comparison of some students to 'faulty fridges' that should be returned to ...
    5 days ago
  • Tolley’s spin on Education spend doesn’t add up
    National’s spin about school funding won’t wash with parents who are paying more and more of the cost of their kids’ education every year, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  “All the spin in the world can’t hide the fact ...
    5 days ago
  • National not facing up to export challenge
    “The latest export data from Statistics New Zealand paints a picture of an economy which is not paying its way in the world, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Exports fell 9% - led by milk powder exports falling to ...
    5 days ago
  • Correction over Talley’s statement
    Labour’s Workplace Relations spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway has been advised by AFFCO Ltd that AFFCO is not advertising for staff in the Manawatu through MSD as stated in a press statement released earlier today.  “I have been advised by AFFCO that ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister, cut your losses – withdraw this doomed Bill
    Local Government Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga’s request for a five month extension on the report back date for the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2) is an admission that the Bill is fundamentally flawed, says Labour’s Local Government Spokesperson ...
    1 week ago
  • Coleman’s cuts create crisis
    Mental health services in New Zealand are in a state of crisis with Youthline saying that calls for extreme depression doubled last year, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.  “About 150 young Kiwis are missing out on help ...
    1 week ago
  • Government helping Talley’s to break workers
    The Ministry for Social Development appears to be assisting Talley’s-Affco replace experienced workers effectively locked out by the company, say Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni and Workplace Relations spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “MSD is advertising for meat processing workers for ...
    1 week ago
  • Electives lag due to $1.7 billion hole
    The lag in hip and knee replacements is a direct consequence of the Government’s $1.7 billion underfunding of health, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.  “A comprehensive study by the University of Otago says that the rate of ...
    1 week ago
  • Speech to Master Builders’ Constructive conference
    Today’s all about being Constructive. And that is good because I believe there is a hunger out there for positive solutions. We must be able to believe there can be a better future. ...
    1 week ago
  • Māori Party housing plan complete failure
    The Māori Party’s housing plan to put more Māori into more homes has been a complete failure with fewer than five loans granted per year, says Labour’s Maori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    1 week ago
  • Fund IRD better to go after tax avoiders
    National’s Tax Working Group used the following graph (p30) in 2010 as part of their justification to cut the top tax rate. The big peaks around the top tax threshold were evidence of a suspiciously high number of taxpayers ...
    GreensBy robert.ashe
    1 week ago
  • Pasifika youth ignored by the Government
    The Adolescent Health Research Group’s new report on the wellbeing of young Pacific people shines a spotlight on the Government’s failure  to deliver any “brighter future” for them, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio.  “Their research shows ...
    1 week ago
  • Police in the provinces are dissatisfied
    Police in the cities of Gisborne, Napier and Hastings are a lot more unhappy than their big city cousins says Labour’s Police Spokesman Stuart Nash.     “In fact the top four districts for enjoyable work within NZ Police are ...
    1 week ago
  • Govt action needed after Wheeler holds
    The Reserve Bank Governor’s warning that “excessive house price inflation” is posing a risk to financial stability puts the pressure back on the Government to take action to address the housing crisis, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Graeme Wheeler’s ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister confirms – new ministry only about abuse
    ...
    1 week ago
  • Silver Ferns Farms decision a tragedy
    The rubber stamping by the Overseas Investment Office of the Shanghai Maling buyout of Silver Fern Farms is a sorry day for the once proud New Zealand meat sector, says Labour’s spokesperson for Primary Industries, Damien O’Connor.  “Generations of Kiwis ...
    1 week ago
  • Benching Nick Smith first step to Kermadec solution
    Side-lining Nick Smith must be the first step in sorting out the Government's Kermadec debacle, says Labour's Fisheries Spokesperson Rino Tirikatene. “Last week Labour called for Nick Smith to be removed from further negotiations with Te Ohu Kaimoana over the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Parents, schools, teachers oppose bulk funding
    Overwhelming opposition to the National Government’s school bulk funding proposal is unsurprising and Hekia Parata should now unequivocally rule out proceeding with the idea, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Bulk funding could only lead to bigger class sizes or ...
    2 weeks ago
  • MBIE gives up on enforcing the law
      The Government must provide labour inspectors with the resources they need to enforce basic employment law after reports that MBIE is only prosecuting the worst cases, says Labour’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.  “Today’s news that MBIE ...
    2 weeks ago
  • West Coast population declines amid bleak economic forecast
    Despite the country experiencing record population growth, the number of people living in the West Coast fell, highlighting struggles in the region from low commodity prices and a poor economic forecast, says Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark. “The latest ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Recovery roadblocks cause for concern
    Strong pressure on mental health services, a flagging local economy and widespread issues with dodgy earthquake repairs are all causes for concern for people in Canterbury according to a new survey, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Today the CDHB’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Motel purchase must not kick people onto the street
    The Government’s purchase of a South Auckland motel to house the homeless must come with a promise that the current long term tenants will not be kicked out onto the streets, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “It is bizarre ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not everyone singing along to so-called rock star economy
    The Westpac McDermott Miller Confidence Survey shows there is serious unease about the economy’s ability to deliver benefits to many New Zealanders, despite the Government trumpeting headline figures, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “According to this survey a significantly ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Youth no better off under National’s “guarantee”
    John Key’s Youth Guarantee is such a spectacular failure that those who undertake the programme are more likely to end up on a benefit and less likely to end up in full-time employment than those who don’t, Leader of the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More low-skilled students becoming residents
    New figures showing international students now make up nearly 40 per cent of all principal applicants approved for New Zealand residency and that their skill level has fallen dramatically, are further evidence that National’s immigration system is broken, says Labour’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 35% of offshore speculators paying no tax
    Offshore investors are aggressively exploiting tax breaks to pay no tax on their rental properties according to IRD data released by Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “35% of offshore investors are paying no tax on their properties, and are pocketing ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Friday fish dump stinks
    This government has dumped bad news on a Friday to try to avoid political scrutiny in Parliament, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • OECD report card: National must try harder
    The OECD report on education shows there’s much more to be done for young Kiwis, Labour’s education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kermadec stoush shows Maori Party double-standards
    The Māori Party’s reaction to the trampled Treaty rights and the Government’s lack of consultation on the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary reeks of the same arrogant mismanagement of the unpopular Maori land reforms, Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Flawed fish dumping calls
    The finding that MPI failed to properly enforce the law even when it had evidence of fish dumping seriously damages the trust and credibility of the Ministry, the industry and this Government, Labour's Fisheries Spokesperson Rino Tirikatene says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Sidestepping Smith should be side-lined
    Nick Smith's arrogance and disrespect towards Māori is putting the future of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary at risk and he needs to excuse himself from further negotiations with Te Ohu Kaimoana, Labour's Fisheries spokesperson Rino Tirikatene says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government must respond to cash for jobs scam
    Urgent Government action is required to halt  the emerging cash-for-jobs immigration scandal that is taking hold in New Zealand says Labour’s Immigration Spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.  “Stories of rogue immigration agents scamming thousands of dollars from migrant workers are just further ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government dragging its feet on surgical mesh
    Jonathan Coleman is dragging his feet over any action to protect New Zealanders from more disasters with surgical mesh, says Health Spokesperson Annette King.  “The Government’s pathetic response is to claim all will be fixed by a new regime to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s baby number app goes gangbusters
    An interactive tool that celebrates Labour’s achievements in health over the decades has become an online hit, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Since the tool was launched last night, 18 thousand people have used it to find their baby ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Real disposable income falls in last three months
    Kiwis are working harder than ever but real disposable income per person fell in the last quarter thanks to record population increases, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson said. ‘In Budget 2016 the National Government said that what mattered most for ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Baby number app celebrates Labour achievements
    Labour has launched an interactive tool that allows New Zealanders to take a look back at our achievements in health over the decades, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Today is the 78th anniversary of the Social Security Act 1938, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Legal experts unpick Māori land reforms
    One of New Zealand’s top law firms has joined the chorus of legal experts heavily critical of the controversial Te Ture Whenua Maori Bill, adding more weight to the evidence that the reforms fall well beneath the robust legal standards ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Industries most reliant on immigration worst offenders
    The industries most reliant on immigration are the worst offenders when it comes to meeting their most basic employment obligations, says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.  “The industries that are most reliant on immigration are Hospitality, Administration, Agriculture, Forestry and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Time to remove law that discriminates against sole parents
    It’s time to repeal a harmful law that sanctions those who do not name the other parent of their child, Labour’s Social Development Spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Every week, 17,000 children are missing out because their sole parent is being ...
    2 weeks ago


History


History


History