It’s not often that you’ll catch Tova O’Brien holding the government to account, but when she does she doesn’t mince words:
National’s health and safety backdown disgrace
…Mark Samoa was one of 100 New Zealanders killed at work every year. That is our national average. It is an abysmal record and one you would expect every workplace, every employer in New Zealand to want to turn around.
Nope. Instead farmers, forestry, fishing – some of the most dangerous industries – are fighting to water down reforms which were born of the Pike River disaster.
The Government’s health and safety reforms have been five years in the making. Five years and it finally got through the select committee stage, and was on its way to becoming law at the end of last week. Top ministers wanted it, they knew it was needed – it could only get this far with John Key’s sign-off. The hard work had been done, business and unions had both had their say.
But just days before it was due to be finalised a mutiny within the National Party stymied the process and the Bill has been sent back to the drawing board to get watered down some more.
The Bill would require employers to appoint a health and safety representative if requested by their staff. That person would get a couple of hours training a year, they would assess any risks or hazards and have the right to direct workers to stop unsafe work – potentially preventing injury or death.
This is what farming, forestry and fishing is scared of – that the unions are coming by stealth.
First of all, electing health and safety representatives already exists in law – this just clarifies it. Secondly, try that argument with families who have lost loved ones at work.
It is far more concerning – disgraceful even – that it is worker safety that they [National] are squabbling over.
O’Brien identifies the delay as the work of the Collins faction, and that this is a power play by them. Go read the whole article at 3 News.