Pike River had lax safety systems. Profits came first. The workforce was highly casualised to weaken the bargaining power of the union. The boss, Peter Whittall, will end up getting the blame. Labour says it will restore miners’ power over their safety by bringing back check inspectors.It’s now up to the Nats to explain why they won’t.
In the speech to the CTU on Friday that got so many plaudits, and so little coverage, Goff said:
* We will also act quickly to make meaningful changes to beef up mining safety.
We know enough now not to have to wait till 2013 for the Royal Commission into the Pike River mining disaster to do what needs to be done.
The need to strengthen the capacity for independent government inspectors to monitor safety in our mines was obvious, but by itself it’s not enough.
Labour will also reinstate check inspectors.
Check inspectors are senior miners responsible for the safety of workers, with the decision-making ability – along with others – to order the immediate withdrawal of miners in dangerous conditions. National scrapped them in 1992. It’s now time to bring them back. Labour will.
Labour is also committed to strengthening the mining industry’s regulations.
The model we will follow is Queensland’s.
Their regulations are comprehensive and include the requirement for an underground mine to have a principal hazard management plan.
They also cover provisions for emergencies, rescue and communication, electrical equipment and installations, explosives, power tools, gas monitoring, mine design, mining operations and ventilation.
Labour will work in consultation with the miners’ union, the miners and the industry to take from Queensland what we need to ensure a safer environment here.
Great stuff. It’s basically everything the miners want on safety. Their union has lauded the policy.
Other parties now have to explain if they will give miners the safety standards they want and, if not, why not.