The Silence is Killing Them

Written By: - Date published: 9:02 am, March 4th, 2013 - 67 comments
Categories: business, employment, Unions, workers' rights - Tags:

The NZ Forestry Sector is completely unmonitored – It is one of our most dangerous industries and no one seems to know what is going on.  From my perspective it appears within officialdom and the Forest Owners themselves, no one really cares.

There are myths abound about what makes our forest industry so dangerous (including compared to other countries).  The first thing the Forest Owners Association (FOA) will tell you is “Not us.  We represent the big players in Forestry and they are not the dangerous ones – it is those small woodblock cutters that have the accidents”.

Who would know – I can’t get this information out of MBIE – they don’t know.  I have put in an OIA for all the investigation reports into forestry deaths for the last five years – apparently  they are not in one place.  I asked for them in January but the MBIE yesterday  said:

“Both these processes (I also asked for the serious harm reports) have required a search through a large quantity of information and therefore the Ministry is extending the time limit on the request”

So it appears the recently developed new standards for Forestry were not based on  their own information about what was causing the accidents.  That they are having trouble finding them is deeply disturbing!

I do have the reports of the three fatal accidents from the Wharerata forest that have occurred in the last two years.  Two of the deaths occurred in the forests owned by  Hikurangi Forest Farms –  and the third by Juken NZ.  Both large Forest Owning companies.

The contractors association will tell you the same thing – “ Not us.  It’s the contractors outside our organisation having the accidents”.  When pushed – they don’t keep the figures on this – it appears to be a hunch!  I haven’t got the names of the companies that are members of the Contractors Association but maybe they could tell me if Blackstump Logging, Harvestpro or Mana logging are members.  Harvestpro at least is one of the biggest contracting companies in the country.

In addition to all the deaths and accidents on the Forest floor there are of course many others involving logging trucks both on logging roads and public roads.  These appear to not only be excluded altogether  from a consideration of the industry safety record but also not investigated as workplace accidents.  I put in an OIA to the Transport Agency and Police for the number of logging truck accidents since 2008 and the number of deaths from them.  I asked for copies of accident investigation reports, Information of prosecutions and copies of any policy development.  MBIE don’t appear to even look at this area of workplace safety.

It turns out neither the Agency or the police data systems collect information identifying specifically logging trucks accidents.

There is an industry run Log Transport Safety Council to which the Transport Agency also belongs, but  from the website, it doesn’t publicise accident reports (doesn’t mention them!), has very little safety advice and as far as I can see doesn’t even promote their own safety standards on the site.

Back to the google method  I guess  (this is a five minute google – feel free to add)!

“Woman dead after logging truck crash” – NZ Herald Nov 12, 2012
“Mother, son die in crash with log truck” – NZ Herald Nov 26, 2011
“One dead after logging truck crash” – One News January 13, 2012
“Man killed in logging truck crash” – One News November 30, 2012
“Fears grow after latest truck crash” – Northern Advocate 21st Feb 2013
“Man killed after logging truck crash” – NZ Herald Dec 1, 2011
“Ruatahuna man dies in logging truck crash.” – BOP live 25 July 2012

The last link above reports the death of Victor Ripia.  He was killed on a forestry road.  I have the police investigation.  It is very technical.  The accident occurred at 8.19 am but was not discovered until a passing driver noticed it at 10.55am.  It is inconclusive as to cause and his death has been referred to the coroner.

I understand MBIE has not even looked at the health and safety obligations that may or may not have been complied with in relation to his death.  I asked them for their report – they referred me to the police, who suggested it was an MBIE inspector that was doing that bit, but when I asked again at MBIE they said they had sent their report to the Coroner and I would have to ask them for it (in the confusion lies the problem).  Now  on Friday they have changed the nature of my request to assert I am after the police report (suggesting they didn’t do one, despite the police thinking they did and MBIE fudging the issue).   It is all very unclear.  Poor Victor. There will be no proper  investigation into his workplace death.

The police report has one  paragraph on the workplace health and safety issues – it notes Victor had health and safety training and then citing only one part of the legal obligations under the HSE Act it concludes  “I believe that Trojan Logging Contractors have taken the appropriate action as a responsible employer under the legislation”.

It appears the provisions in the act that require the Principal (in this case there could be a few – the forest owner, the firm contracting Trojan, the Mill and the felling contractor) have not even been considered in terms of their obligations.

No one in that forest had a system to check drivers arrived safely on their journey – two trucks left loaded after Victor and arrived before him on a one way road – no one went to look for him –he lay for hours.  The RT in his cab did not work.  According to the Police “the vehicle combination was subject to a set of standards prepared for the Log Transport Safety Council that represents best practice for the transport of logs in NZ.  These standards are recognised by the LTSC, Forest Owners Association, Land Transport NZ, OSH and ACC.”

The new MBIE forest safety standards defer to these LTSC standards for  trucks – set by the industry for the industry – not even approved,  they are not on the link provided by MBIE to access them.

The industry is currently holding a series of Safety Breakfasts around the country to explain the new inferior MBIE Forestry Standards to workers. These standards were developed with the Industry and MBIE and have whole sections not included that other better preforming jusidictions have (e.g. fatigue management).  No unions or workers were at the table.

The breakfasts, in our third biggest export sector, are being funded by MBIE.  We asked to attend.  We think these workers need to know about their work rights.  The standards don’t include mention of their legal right to trained health and safety reps and participation in health and safety – we wanted to tell them about that – tell them to seek independent support when they felt at risk etc.  Explain that we think their terms and conditions of employment are a factor in the accident rate.

Our request to attend was rejected unanimously by the Forest Owners Association Executive (chaired by Sheldon Drummond of Juken NZ).  Instead we proposed a leaflet from the FIRST union with this information.  We asked the MBIE to ask its inspectors to distribute it (they were going to the breakfasts).  They said this represented a conflict of interest!  The FOA refused the leaflet.  MBIE said it would instead make its generic work rights  info available to these workers.  In February I asked for a copy of the material given to these workers.

On Friday they informed me “Given that the programme for the 2013 Safe Start Breakfasts was already established and there was a desire to retain a strong focus on the safety gains associated with the introduction of the new  Approved Code of Practice it was agreed that an alternative  opportunity for the supported distribution of the worker’s rights material would be identified”

It wasn’t given out!  We were not part of the “agreement” to not hand it out.  I will now OIA the correspondence where this was discussed.  The industry has the MBIE by the short and curlys!

This work makes you feel like you are screaming in the wind.

Please support the Ken Callow campaign

67 comments on “The Silence is Killing Them ”

  1. karol 1

    What a shocking lack of H&S monitoring and responsibility. Thanks for exposing this, helen.

    I was wondering , Qui bono?

    The companies, i guess. i wondered who such people are, and searched around the contractor named in the post as the biggest one, Harvest Pro, NZ:

    They are now part of Kiwi Forestry International Limited, and didn’t get much beyond that. However, the name seems to be part of international branding, with a significant link to Japanese interests.

  2. Galeandra 2

    Thanks Helen, clearly there are very serious matters which need to be given more attention.
    As you report it, you seem to have underrtaken a lonely and frustrating task.
    How much support have Labour caucus members provided to date? Darien Fenton and Shane Jones are shadow Forestry & Labour (H & S) respectively, and Sue Moroney is now ACC. Whose ears should we be bending to actually progress this issue in the media and in the house?

    • Darien Fenton 2.1

      Happy for you to bend my ear. If you look back you will see I’ve been on about the trucking industry health and safety issues for years; and you will also find I’ve asked questions about forestry health and safety in parliament and done media on it. It’s an uphill battle to get interest or traction and am right with Helen on this issue.

      • Bill 2.1.1

        Are there any pertinant changes to the ERA on the table or being worked on? Is there any appetite for bringing back the right to strike and secondary picketting? (see my brief comment below [no.9] for some of the reasoning behind these questions)

        • ghostwhowalksnz 2.1.1.1

          Are the logging trucks on private roads not subject to any government safety checks at all.

          the blather about Log Transport Safety Council seems to indicate there is no checking after its put into service.

        • xtasy 2.1.1.2

          Bill: +1

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.2

        It’s an uphill battle to get interest or traction and am right with Helen on this issue.

        That’s the hard part of being in Opposition. But once in Government, Labour can restructure the forestry value chain, demand compliance to higher standards, and push all the bad operators out of business, making space for the good operators who are out there.

        IF the NZ Government was still a major owner and operator of forests, it would be much easier to do all of the above, of course.

  3. Adrian 3

    Good work Helen. Last grape harvest in Marlborough I was talking to a driver who had come down from around Rotorua for the harvest season and he said he was moving down here as he said that he pretty much lost a wing mirror a fortnight to other trucks and it was only a matter of time before he was taken out. The roads are too narrow and particularly the younger drivers are real cowboys and don’t seem to care. Is this productivity pressure, bad training or slack policing?

    • David H 3.1

      And it’s not a new problem either. I can remember driving upto the top of the north island to go fishing in the 80’s and having my rear view mirror filled with the grill of a fully laden logging truck and I was doing (and I checked) 85 MPH it was an old car with the old speedo. It makes you feel very vulnerable seeing that. But not as vulnerable as seeing said truck passing you on a narrow road, on the downhill section into a blind corner. I braked because if anyone came round the blind corner he would just pull back in over us. In those days I smoked and had to stop to have a ciggie and let the hands stop shaking.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      Is this productivity pressure, bad training or slack policing?

      All three.

  4. vto 4

    The similarities with the circumstances around 29 men being killed at Pike River is very disturbing.

    It seem Helen that you are suggesting that health & safety and any inspectorate is dealt with by the industry owners rather than independently.

    This structure is exactly what killed these 29 men at Pike River. While you won’t get 29 men killed all in one go like Pike River it seems that cumulatively the result is exactly the same.

    What on earth is the matter with these people? They are resonsible for men dying yet seem to simply roll over and go straight back to sleep? Shame on them.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      It seem Helen that you are suggesting that health & safety and any inspectorate is dealt with by the industry owners rather than independently.

      I got the impression that she wants better standards, better monitoring of those standards and that the appropriate authorities (police and MBIE) actually do their job.

      • vto 4.1.1

        Yes, sorry my phrasing was terrible. Didn’t mean that that was what Helen was advocating, rather actually meant that Helen was describing the structure was thus. woops

  5. vto says:

    What on earth is the matter with these people? They are resonsible for men dying yet seem to simply roll over and go straight back to sleep? Shame on them.

    these people are taking a lead from our Government: Money matters, people don’t.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      The right sentiment, but these people stopped feeling shame a long time ago.

      • Bill 5.1.1

        Why would anyone feel shame for their (alleged) part in the death of another when the world is one of simple personal responsibility and individual choice?

  6. DH 6

    That’s a good informative article, thanks Helen.

    You must have the patience of Job. I’d go nuts dealing with people like that. Evokes an image of schooldays where the bunch of bullies are tossing a kids bag to each other while he tries to grab at it.

  7. Derek Kelsey 7

    Forestry is big business.
    Big Business controls National.
    National controls Health & Safety.
    End of Story

    • Rosie 7.1

      + 1

    • Arfamo 7.2

      Labour in Govt encouraged the Department of Labour to slash the health and safety inspectorate to save money and instead forget history & develop “modern” codes of practice and the philosophy that the industry owners and managers would have every incentive to police themselves. The Labour Government is every bit as much responsible for deaths and accidents in industries – including Pike River – as National, perhaps even more so because the Nats can argue the system was Labour’s. The irony of MOBIE prosecuting Pike River managers for failing to keep their workers safe is sickening. They should be being prosecuted themselves for the same crime. What is Labour’s position on H&S now?

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    That sounds like the people in suits, both in government (including the police) and in the industry, don’t want to know anything about the safety of the workers. They just want to tick the box that says Health and Safety with no consideration of it actually achieving anything except their bonus cheque. The end result of such incompetence, and it can be called nothing else, will be even more death but these jackasses won’t care and will point to the Health and Safety tick box saying that they’ve done everything that they could.

    • Arfamo 8.1

      That is correct. That is what actually used to happen. It probably still does.

  9. Bill 9

    If subcontractors could form some legal body with heft then direct pressure could be brought to bear on forestry owners and others. But it can’t be a registered and recognised union given current employment law. So…is there a possible ‘fix’ to the legislation that would enable people who are employers or self employed to form unions and bargain under certain conditions?

    And if a legislative fix isn’t possible – given that some within various industries associated with forestry are still employees, then the right to strike and secondary picketing really ought be re-established. Shame the union movement is a bit shy when it comes to discussing the right to strike though…

    Any other suggestions out there that are something different to this (I believe, inevitably forlorn) appeal for forestry owners to put workers and their safety before their principle consideration – profit? (The moral perturbance of the middle classes won’t really afford much meaningful or effective leverage against the industry)

    edit: Another thought comes to mind. What would the effect be if those using sub-contractors were removed from some of the protective provisions of ACC and were thus open to the possibility of being sued for damages? Perhaps that would ‘encourage ‘ them to buck up their ideas. (People focussed on profit don’t want it diminished via onerous payouts afterall.)

    • RedLogix 9.1

      I have two close acquaintances who are both senior H&S officers with large organisations. Both have unequivocally told me that ‘contracting out is rarely cheaper, it’s done to shift the risk’.

      • Bill 9.1.1

        And if ‘shifting the risk’ ran the risk of them having a sizable financial chunk taken out of their arse due to being no longer protected by ACC?

    • Draco T Bastard 9.2

      If subcontractors could form some legal body with heft then direct pressure could be brought to bear on forestry owners and others.

      Well, employers form unions all the time. We have the Chamber of Commerce, the Employers Association, the Manufacturing Association and a few others. It seems that only dependent contractors can’t form such associations. That should give you a clue as to what the purpose of the present law is all about.

      • Bill 9.2.1

        Well, employers form unions all the time.

        I was referring specifically to incorporated bodies that can then register as unions and enter into collective bargaining etc. At the moment (and for obvious reasons) employers cannot establish registered unions. The problem is that sub-contractors are left in the lurch as a result.

        • Draco T Bastard 9.2.1.1

          I was referring specifically to incorporated bodies that can then register as unions and enter into collective bargaining etc.

          No, they enter into collective lobbying instead.

          At the moment (and for obvious reasons) employers cannot establish registered unions.

          No, they can’t – and yet they have. They’re just not called unions but they still perform a lot of the same functions.

          The problem is that sub-contractors are left in the lurch as a result.

          And the reason for that is so that independent people don’t form a strong association that could make the businesses pay more.

    • xtasy 9.3

      “Shame the union movement is a bit shy when it comes to discussing the right to strike though…”

      Bill, is this not the consequence of the law? Even the Employment Relations Act is not giving unions as workers’ representatives much leeway to take strike action. Helen Clark and Labour should have looked at this when they took over government in 1999, but I presume it was not “fashionable” in those days to give powers to workers.

  10. Craig Glen viper 10

    This is really shocking and as VTO has said Pike River all over again.

  11. Rosie 11

    Theres a lot of disturbing and alarming points raised in Helen Kelly’s article. I was particularly struck by the response of MBIE to Helen Kelly’s request for the report into Victor Ripia’s death and the fact that its unlikely that they investigated his death in terms of the health and safety obligations of the employer.

    Is it just my imagination or perception that MBIE’s role in writing, implementing and promoting sound H&S legislation has weakened over the years since Nat came to power? I recall accessing their services (as the former Dept. of Labour) on several occasions for differing reasons prior to ’08 and found them helpful and well organised. I even used their publications on stress in the workplace as reference material for an essay that I wrote at the time.

    If MBIE are neglecting their duties they really need to be held to account. We have a poor attitude towards health and safety in this country and it’s MBIE’s job to turn that around. At the moment it sounds like they are playing a leading role in fostering that attitude.

    • arants 11.1

      I wish it were only the Nats but no, there’s been a steady decline in H&S standards in this industry and most others over the last 20 years, through both National & Labour governments.

    • Arleen 11.2

      I am the Owner of Trojan Logging.

      Many issues have been brought to bear here. The main one is
      Forestry Health and Safety. It is an Industry which has its political uses by big business against small business, used to force prices down by the Forest Companies. It called COMPETITION! For years I have attempted to find an ear to bend. I guess the title of Corporate Bullying is not enticing enough for a journalist!

      Forestry Health and Safety does exist and is closely monitored. It is a Compliance written into Contracts with full commitment by Contractor and Employees. Responsibility is that of each and every Individual.
      For my particular business we were answerable to our (3) Shareholding Company firstly, then the Distribution Company, and then the Forest Owner. If it had reached the Forest Owner you would be assured of the writing on the wall, meaning your days as a Contractor were numbered with a Strike 3 Policy.

      Log Transport Safety Council does have a place but caters mainly to the political issues, mechanical and engineering recommendations and that of directing business towards the main players in Forestry. You will have to dig a little harder here Helen as to who those players are.

      Monitoring? YES
      Who? The (3) mentioned
      When? Random
      Where? At skid sites, mills, weigh bridges, road stops.

      DOL? Once again my experience has been that of ‘unseen and not heard’ until a headline hitting fatal accident. Why? Because of intimidation and retaliation from those within the Industry.

      I would talk with Darien on the ‘trucking stuff’ as I do believe I can help.
      There have been comments made about Trojan Logging here, but I have to rise above it as my H&S commitment to my business, and my employee were 150 percent. “Were” because it was impossible to stay in business due to the demands of the Shareholding Company, and the late payout of the Insurance which nearly saw me bankrupted. There are a lot of unknown factors by the people making comment here, and for Victor’s sake it will stay that way.

      • Colonial Viper 11.2.1

        Thanks for taking the time to comment and inform us of some background.

  12. Helen Kelly 12

    @Galeandra thanks – yes we have lots of allies helping with the campaign including the communities where Forestry dominated the economy. Actually Darien started the trucking stuff. For some time she has been raising concerns about the pay and conditions of drivers (includng owner drivers) and the safey risks they take to make a living. She has got lots of useful info for me from the Parliamentry library (including the last Award in Forestry and Driving – another blog!) and is on the phone most days offering to help, ask questions etc.

    In constrast – we wrote to Chris Finlayson when he was Minister of Labour for a short time re the Forestry Safety Standards. We provided in depth detail of how they differed from the Australian standards in so many important aspects and pointed how inferior they were. In response Minister Bridges has answered saying:

    “I am advised that the Ministry is not aware of any evidence suggesting the differences between accident reates in Australia and NZ can be attirbuted to the differences in standards between the two countries and how these are articualted through codes of practice”

    Maybe this will apply to Pike River as well?

    • Rogue Trooper 12.1

      now let me tell you about the mechanics of logging transport…and it’s only gonna deteriorate, along with the roads.

    • Yes 12.2

      Helen Kelly health and safety is important How many union members have been killed

  13. Colonial Viper 13

    Interestingly, these logging industry groups claimed a few years back to have dramatically reduced logging truck accidents. If the police don’t keep records of the incidents, how is it that these groups do?

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU0808/S00115.htm

  14. Poission 14

    The fundamental problem here is the removal of responsibility of accountability of safety in workplace to the subcontractors,ie contracting out responsibility.

    The overall culpability still remains with the location owner such as the case with the farm owners and the bee keepers death with the bridge constructed by the army.

    Contracting out allows the site owners to mitigate their ACC costs and limit their responsibility.A serious fraud investigation is also an option.

    • Derek Colebrook 14.1

      Folks, one would need a very competent H & S person to deal with the complexities and geographic diversity of the whole forest industry!
      It would be a monumental task !

      • vto 14.1.1

        The industry seems to be able to look after every other component of the complex and geographically divergent forestry industry perfectly well, so that is an absolute bullshit argument. For example, preparing and planting the forests in the first place, arranging for contracts for payment, purchase of machinery and plant for such a complex and geographically divergent sector, on it goes…..

        If it is good enough to cover every other component of forestry then so too should it be possible to organise the industry so that the workers are not killed by the negligence of their bosses. Like Pike River.

        I give you a big fail on that point mr derek.

        • Draco T Bastard 14.1.1.1

          +1

          If it was such a monumental task then perhaps we shouldn’t be doing forestry at all.

  15. xtasy 15

    Helen, this scandalous neglect of work and safety issues in the forestry industry does not surprise me at all. Nor does the Pike River Mine disaster and the 29 victims to that surprise me. NZ has gone too easy on work and safety for many a years. It is to blame partly on the privatisation, outsourcing and “liberalisation” agenda followed since the late 1980s.

    Much work and safety policies I experienced are just a “window dressing exercise” for many employers, as they simply do hold informative introductions and deliver many pages of handouts on this, but they hardly ever follow up or enforce the policies.

    And then there are many cutting corners.

    NZ is to me known for such disasters and issues, and also the leaky homes scandal, which again is a consequence of standards being “relaxed” or abolished.

    Even in other leading economies and countries standards are continually weakened and neglected, but whenever I worked in Europe, I felt more safe working there than I ever would in NZ.

  16. feijoa 16

    It wouldn’t surprise me if this was alot bigger than just forestry
    Fishing , farming, construction…

  17. George D 17


    This work makes you feel like you are screaming in the wind.

    Every time a Labour Government is elected, laws which prevent such things from happening are put in place, right?

  18. fantail 18

    I am speaking from experience.
    All the men in my family and some close relations have worked in the bush. Two things stick in my mind…one is that although not logging truck drivers (they were bushmen) they all now suffer from back problems and joint problems as it is such an extremely physical and heavy job. They are ageing before their time.They do not remember any health and safety training other than those couple of younger ones who did a short lesson on it at tech.
    Secondly – I am tired of the media and some others (have heard MPs say it) saying something similar to “They are just forestry workers” or ” forestry workers are unskilled workers ” They make out the workers are all druggies and drunks. No one stops to think all bushmen have to undergo drug testing before they are employed.This really angers me as the so called “just forestry workers” are highly skilled and very hard working in often extreme conditions – blistering heat in the summer and snow and freezing temperatures in the winter let alone working in the rain and also apart from the really older bushman many have attended tech to gain their certificates.My husband who has now reached retirement worked for many years in the bush leaving home around 4.30 in the morning to head to their work site,and is still a hard working man with many skills he gained whilst working in the bush. However he suffers from many aches and pains all as a result of the back breaking work of being a chain saw operator and working on many other areas of the skids. It is a thankless task. One young bushman in his gang was killed by a falling tree.
    Attitudes definitely need to change with regard to Health and Safety in the forest and with Logging Truck drivers

  19. fantail 19

    Was talking with my husband last night and he as mentioned before was a long time bushman (he corrected me that they are called Loggers not bushman ) he was saying there was strict Health and Safety rules in place when he worked in the bush in the late 60s to the 80s and the problems were in the silverculture gangs (known as bushmen) and that there may be some misunderstanding re H&S in forestry as it was well known that the silverculturists were the ones with the lack of H&S. He admits there was some deaths in the bush but this was mainly due to people being compacent but they did know the H&S rules.Might be worth talking to some of the older loggers.

  20. Arleen 20

    Clarity needs to be given here and it is to that of Health and Safety.
    Have you ever heard the phrase ‘you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink?’
    No matter how much training, H&S meetings attended, Safety Talks etc, the individual has the final decision on whether or not to proceed with his/her course of action.
    It is the responsibility of every individual to apply common sense of H&S during the course of their working day.

    It is human nature to take short-cuts.
    Make of that what you will Helen with both Ken Callow and Victor Ripia.
    Where in their is the question ‘ what were their last thoughts?’

    Is this a BLAME GAME?

    Blame Competition!
    Blame Big Business!
    Blame Targets!
    Blame Corporate Bullying! Intimidation! Rate cutting!

    I do recognize there are a lot of unanswered questions for the families of these men and I hope they are able to achieve closure in time.

    Besides bringing attention to Forestry Health and Safety, I have got to ask what it is you are hoping to achieve here Helen? I certainly DO NOT envisage a clear picture that you have painted here because I am reminded that you are president of the CTU. I am asking ‘What do you Gain?’ Are you hoping to change the face of H&S? Because if you are well than try COMMON SENSE instead as stated earlier.

    A Quote for you:
    A truth that is told with bad intent,
    beats all the lies one can invent……..

    • Colonial Viper 20.1

      Is this a BLAME GAME?

      People died.

      You need to take this seriously.

      • Arleen 20.1.1

        Damn right!
        2 people died in 2 separate incidents!

        You only have what you read here on Twitter.

        Helen presented a Report to Government that all but named and blamed ME – the employer – in one of the incidents. My opinion is Helen is a fantastic Spin Doctor!

        All I can say is attend the Coroners Hearing for both victims and make your own conclusions.
        Bet your bottom dollar you will definitely see and hear what is NOT BEING SAID here!

        I have never been more serious in my life. How much more serious do you want me to be?
        I can’t do anything to bring these men back.
        It has been near 8 months since my employee died. My life is in tatters. The first 4 months after the accident was taken up by investigation, with the last 4 months of criticism from public and those who think they see an opportunity to put their names in headlines using the incident – simply because I am the Employer / Owner of Trojan Logging, and I’m beginning to think that this will never end.
        What do you want?
        My life too?

        This is a living death!

        This is what Health and Safety should be for…..Not just for those who have died but also for those who are still trying to live.

        • One Tāne Huna 20.1.1.1

          I think Helen Kelly addresses this in her (more current) post about the special effects industry.

          She discusses the way in which the employment model is broken.

          Well done speaking out.

          • One Tāne Huna 20.1.1.1.1

            PS:

            Looking at Forestry for example – telling these workers to join a Union and we will collectively bargain with their employer (all small contractors competing for work) is a nonsense and doesn’t ring true with these workers anyway. The problem here is the shape of the industry

            Helen Kelly.

  21. Arleen 21

    The shape of Forestry Industry is alive and well depending on who you talk to.
    You can also find a great percentage of Forest Workers and Contractors who would say otherwise.

    This is also dependent on how one can weather the fluctuations of Market Price as opposed Benchmark Rates.

    The backbone of Forestry is not the Admin leech companies taking percentages from our earnings – it is the hard work of those at the coal face doing the actual physical labor

    Do the sums and you will see we are actually forced into paying to be employed, when the Admin companies taking percentage were set up by us to serve us. The bigger Shareholder players have turned this around 180 degrees and it is now we the Owner Drivers and the Bush Contractors who are the servants.

    Clever Business Plan? Corporate Bullying?

    But none of this will change H&S because this is the big players weapon of choice!

    Helen dont use these incidents to trawl for new membership because it’s not going to work.
    Use a different approach starting with Codes of Practice, H&S Standardization in forestry and also at mill sites by ALL of the many Forest Owners. View all changes before they come into effect so that an INDIVIDUAL does not drive the issue on a personal level, and consult with those who are doing the actual work – not just H&S persons who throw their weight around or any of the Admin companies. We are only told of these things after the fact.

    Dont use the big stick approach.

    As I have been trying to point out – quoting your words *it is the shape of the industry’
    All you have to do is look in the right places.

    • Colonial Viper 21.1

      Your “be nice let the industry sort itself out” self regulation approach provides no leverage over the big companies.

      Helen dont use these incidents to trawl for new membership because it’s not going to work.

      Any particular reason you don’t want workers to be union organised with a single co-ordinated voice on industry matters?

      • Arleen 21.1.1

        I agree with One Tane Huna’s statement of the employment model being broken.
        However, I am giving the explanation of why!

        I am not into ‘be nice and let the industry sort itself out’.
        I have become a target for speaking out during my time in forestry transport since 1989

        Have you seen the report Helen presented to Government?
        I bet you would change your mind too like I have because the way in which the scenario of the fatal accident was used – misrepresentations and downright lies….

        I’m all for Health and Safety.

        I couldn’t give 2 hoots about whether or not workers wished to join a union if they feel they are not being treated fairly. That is their prerogative and entitlement.

        It is the SPIN that I object to!!!!!
        I asked Helen what it was she was trying to achieve and the answer was ‘I don’t know what you are referring to’.

        Everyone sees and hears what they want.

        • Colonial Viper 21.1.1.1

          So you’re all for tighter enforcement and stiffer penalties for company owners?

    • lprent 21.2

      Helen dont use these incidents to trawl for new membership because it’s not going to work.

      The Council of Trade Unions membership are unions, not union members. So are you thinking that there would be new unions?

      I’m confused 😈

  22. Arleen 22

    To Iprent:
    You are confused – pardon me.
    I am not saying at all that there would be new unions.
    Why confuse people more!

    To Colonial Viper:
    I am trying to share with you here the lay of the land from where I stand.
    There are legal rights and then there is ‘doing whats right’.
    If you knew or know the difference and understand from a 360 degree perspective, you would not be saying what you have said in your last tweet.

    Rules are broken by a very minor percentage of companies and workers, but laws are made to encompass the 98.0002 percent who are law abiding and sometimes the innocent suffer because someone else has put a SPIN on the information given.

    Using knowledge incorrectly, is abhorrent, and deceitful. Political? Definitely!
    In a word I am for penalizing companies who break the law.
    Be careful in defining who you deem to have broken that law.
    Helen judged me in her report – she should have sought, and researched her source of information better.

    Where is LOGIC nowadays? I think it died too.

  23. Arleen 23

    Colonial Viper I’m not here to answer to you if thats what you think.
    I have had to defend myself, and my knowledge of the accident, to people who are not in full receipt of all information.

    Dept of Labor / Business has not laid any charges from the accident in the required time period – not that I was aware of this fact. I was informed of this piece of information by Health and Safety.

    Helen brought this subject into play by presenting her defamatory report to government.
    I want the truth to be told but I will not be used for her purposes.

    The end of the day DO come along to the Coroners Hearing seeing you are so interested in whatever it is you are interested in. Stiffer Penalties, new laws maybe, new members maybe. I am trying to determine what it is that you want!

    My analysis of you? Reporter? Journalist? Questioning – yes.
    Judgmental – yes.

    Want discussion? Contact me. Email.

    • Colonial Viper 23.1

      I don’t want discussion with you on this specific case. I want proposals for change targetting a halving of the numbers of deaths in the industry and accountability brought home to CEOs and boards. Your approach is useless.

  24. Arleen 24

    And therein lies the problem…
    Your attitude is the same as those who set the standards and put forward the proposals.

    Consultation is never with those at the coal face.
    Call a meeting and get the information you require from that meeting.

    I offered to do so with Helen and then withdrew when her report was emailed to me.

  25. Arleen 25

    McFlock: I was too horrified at the time, but Helen was informed almost immediately by a H&S representative who had the full facts of his own investigation, and a copy of the Police Report..
    Helen requested a copy of that information but was refused as it was already too late and she had already made her submission to government.

    I am still considering how to handle it from here.

    When I became aware of this Twitter debate I contacted Helen who stated at the time ‘This is not about trying to punish you., this is about H&S and we would like you to help us investigate the Forest Owners part in all of this and how we can help change that. (until I read the report). I still want to help because I have the Cause and Effect for which I can certainly give most of if not all the answers.

    Colonial Viper I am correct. As first suspected a journalist / reporter with a penchant for phishing / fishing, political rhetoric, and a over-rated sense of self importance.
    It ain’t that easy to pick one’s brains via a pc.

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