Kate’s CEO talkfest

Written By: - Date published: 11:00 am, August 12th, 2009 - 22 comments
Categories: national/act government, workers' rights - Tags: , , ,

The Minister of Labour, Kate Wilkinson, is holding a meeting today with 25 top CEOs on the number of New Zealanders who are killed every year at work.

The fact it’s being billed as an example of ‘partnership’ shows a lot about this Government’s worldview, because she’s specifically excluded any representation from the workers who’re actually being killed on the job.

As the Maritime Union’s Trevor Hanson points out:

‘There’s one prob­lem here this pro­posed group is miss­ing the peo­ple who get hurt and killed on the job, who are work­ers, gen­er­ally not chief exec­u­tives or Gov­ern­ment agents.’

Mr Han­son says pri­vate busi­ness have a con­flict of inter­est because ‘down at the coal face’ health and safety mea­sures were often seen as a drain on profits.

‘The Min­is­ter is cor­rect when she says busi­ness exec­u­tives are in a prime posi­tion to influ­ence atti­tudes and prac­tices. The only prob­lem is in our expe­ri­ence this influ­ence has often been neg­a­tive as some com­pa­nies we have seen place prof­its over health and safety, espe­cially through con­tract­ing out and sim­i­lar practices.’

National’s top-down approach here shouldn’t come as a surprise. National is, after all, a party opposed to its core to the idea of workplace democracy. That’s why the party was founded in the first place.

In National’s view, the role of the company is to act as a private tyranny. Workers are there to work for the boss and do what they’re told. They’re not supposed to get a seat at the table.

22 comments on “Kate’s CEO talkfest”

  1. ieuan 1

    ‘Mr Hanson says private business have a conflict of interest because “down at the coal face’ health and safety measures were often seen as a drain on profits.’

    I totally disagree with that statement. I’ve worked for a number of large New Zealand companies and they all have a very strong emphasis on health and safety.

    At a work place, accidents generally happen because people do stupid things not because companies are cutting corners to try and save money.

    From my experience things have improved greatly in New Zealand, in terms of work place safety, in the last 10 years.

    • Tigger 1.1

      Possibly because workers had a say during that time…

      • JustRight 1.1.1

        Nope, it is because good health & safety practice happens to be good business. Having employees/contractors maimed or killed, being prosecuted for poor practice and all of the resulting distraction is never good for a business. Accidents are a tragedy for everybody concerned.

        So Business focus on getting it right because it is the right thing to do for all stakeholders.

        • Murray

          I would agree, most employees have to be led to good Health and Safety practices, until they have an accident. Then they blame the employer for not doing enough to protect them.

    • Byron 1.2

      Lets weigh these up.

      a psudonomous blog commenters experiences as an individual vs the view of Hanson who represents a democratic workers organisation. Who is more credible?

  2. Tigger 2

    FAIL. But go National, nice to see you acting according to all my stereotypes of you.

  3. JustRight 4

    Mr Han­son says pri­vate busi­ness have a con­flict of inter­est because “down at the coal face’ health and safety mea­sures were often seen as a drain on profits.

    As another individual who does work across a whole range of Companies (500 sites in fact), this is not my experience. The lengths some Companies go to ensure no injuries occur, is to me, heartening. I think there is a very serious level of effort put into ensuring everyone is safe.

    I think Mr Hanson’s comments are Employer (only private employers you should note) BAD, Employees under the thumb, abused, exploited and GOOD.

    You don’t hear about CEO’s complaining of Employee Representative meetings on H&S with lines like “Employees and their representatives have a conflict of interest because down at the coal face they use health & safety as an excuse for lack of productivity” Do you?

    • Murray 4.1

      Exellent post, It is apparent that Mr Hansen loses credibility with his comments

    • Ron 4.2

      “You don’t hear about CEO’s complaining of Employee Representative meetings on H&S with lines like “Employees and their representatives have a conflict of interest because down at the coal face they use health & safety as an excuse for lack of productivity’ ”
      Actually, Just Right, I have. I’ve been in the room several time as private buiness owners and CEO’s sip their Xmas whiskey and bitch about the ways workers and union try to rip them off – H&S rule, HR rules, employment contracts and workers demands for decent equipment. I’ve also sat through endless small business meetings with a similiar feel. I quote: “Bloody minimum wage. They have no idea how hard it is for us to run this business. They turn up at 8.00 and get to leave at 4.30. I work 60 hours a week. We can’t even afford Tahiti this year. We’re going to bloody Fiji”

  4. Rob 5

    I honestly think it is the correct approach to start from, and then widen the base…

    I work for a Aus diversified multi national with interests in mining, building materials and other areas, traditionally having many fatalities every year. Our NZ based company was aquired by them a few years ago. Before the aquisition we had a very lax safety environment which was managed by the staff on the shop floor. Realistically safety (as there was no health) came down to a monthly H&S chin wag by a select few who really only turned up to the meeting because there was lunch provided.

    Since the aquisition safety and also health has been driven top down. Accordance to safety procedures is incredibly strict, it is also the first part of reporting at every meeting and forms the first section of the annual result plan. Our LTI’s, MTI’s and fatalities have declined and they will not stop until it is zero. It costs money and time, but the business is commited to it. Better machines have been purchased, better staffing rates at key processes have been implemented.

    So in short I think it is very responsible to ge the lead from the top as without that commitement very little can change in a commercial business.

    PS. I have had to put this together pretty quickly as I am between meetings. Apologies upfront for any spelling or grammar mistakes that you guys like to pick up on.

    • JustRight 5.1

      Rob, I agree. Start at the top, get buy in and then engage all other stakeholders. The fact remains with any workplace change, the Union can get all hot & bothered but if the CEO doesn’t buy it then it will not happen.

  5. Malcolm 6

    Hazards Magazine on the latest attack on H&S regulations by representatives of big business in Britain:


    Just because you may know of some businesses who do take H&S seriously does not mean that capital does not have a general interest in cutting costs at workers’ expense!!

  6. This is not about top-down H&S. This is an event which meets Ms Wilkinson’s personal preference to work with employers and ignore unions. She is happy to talk to business but can’t see the point of unions. She should not hold this portfolio.

  7. Swampy 8

    Trevor Hansen is a communist. How much votes did the Communist party get at the last election?

  8. Extremely bored 9

    Grammar Swamp creature, “how many”, not “how much”. Maybe a communist state education would have provided you with better grammar. By the way, tagging somebody a communist might provide you the jollies, but can you define one?

    • Draco T Bastard 9.1

      Marx never managed it effectively so I doubt if the RWNJs could. Especially considering the fact that they’ve been indoctrinated into the belief that communism is evil and that’s about the extent of their understanding.

      I do not know what I am but I do know that I am not a Marxist

      Karl Marx, 1851

  9. Well Swampy you get first prize, you are the first person to label me a communist that i am aware of.

    I believe in the right of a worker to join a union, i believe in the right of a worker

    to participate in a democratic vote on wages terms and conditions for there employment.

    I believe in assisting any worker where i can union or non union.

    I have been a unionist since the age of 15, 38 years of my life have been in the Maritime Industry 33years of these as a union official, i retire in Nov on my 65 th birthday.

    If in your eyes that makes me a communist that is your choice.

    i believe in your right of freedom of speech, as i reserve my right of reply

    Comrade Hanson

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