This piece by Matt McCarten has come up on Open Mike. Here are extracts:
Eventually someone will be held culpable
Someone has to say it. The collective media swooning for Pike River boss Peter Whittall is just wrong.
Of course Whittall is devastated about the miners’ deaths. But he is also the guy in charge of protecting his workers and his company may have failed in that duty.
Instead we have sainthood surreally foisted on Whittall by the media and politicians alike, anointing him as the public face of national mourning for his dead employees and subcontractors.
Yet under his watch, 29 men were killed and still lie entombed. Family members and friends of the dead have been robbed of a loved one. Many other workers, as a result of the explosion, will lose their livelihoods.
Unbelievably, the chief executive of this company becomes a media darling. …
I can’t help thinking the genuine outpouring of grief by New Zealanders is inadvertently being manipulated. The mining company is being outrageously painted as an innocent victim alongside the 29 men. It also gives John Key and his government a public platform.
Too cynical? How else do you explain various cabinet ministers elbowing their way into television shots when there isn’t even a need for them to be at the mine? And what about the memorial? It seemed the whole Cabinet was on stage with other “dignitaries”.
The mining company executives were given pride of place next to the Prime Minister. The victims’ families and the miners’ union representatives were told to sit in the audience. When Whittall spoke he made no company apology to the families. I wonder if that was on advice from their lawyers? …
But we know whose interests this Government supports. Last week while the country’s attention was on the tragedy, they shoved anti-worker legislation through Parliament under urgency. Ironically one of the new laws passed is to make it harder for unions to enter a workplace to observe safety measures.
Despite not getting to sit at the top table on Thursday the unionists did something better. After the speechifying was over, the singing of the union movement’s anthem, Solidarity Forever, spontaneously erupted from the crowd. That was the only unscripted event of the day. Miners would have liked that. But they’d also like someone to take responsibility for killing them too.