web analytics

Is it always better late than never?

Written By: - Date published: 6:26 pm, January 29th, 2014 - 18 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.

 

 

 

18 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

  • Fast-tracked Northland water project will accelerate economic recovery
    The Government has welcomed the decision to approve a new water storage reservoir in Northland, the first of a number of infrastructure projects earmarked for a speedy consenting process that aims to accelerate New Zealand’s economic recovery from Covid-19.  The Matawii Water Storage Reservoir will provide drinking water for Kaikohe, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Tokelau Language Week reminds us to stay united and strong
    Staying strong in the face of challenges and being true to our heritage and languages are key to preserving our cultural identity and wellbeing, is the focus of the 2020 Tokelau Language Week. Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, says this year’s theme, ‘Apoapo tau foe, i nā tāfea ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago