Why did this take a private prosecution?

Written By: - Date published: 9:54 am, August 4th, 2015 - 15 comments
Categories: accountability, health and safety, Unions - Tags: , ,

From RNZ last night:

Private prosecution win over forestry worker’s death

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) has won a private prosecution against a Tokoroa forestry company over the death of a worker, after the government safety regulator declined to prosecute.

In 2013, loader driver Charles Finlay was crushed to death by a log while working in the dark. WorkSafe investigated but said it could not find enough evidence of wrongdoing to prosecute the 45-year-old’s employer, M & A Cross Ltd.

But now M & A Cross Ltd has pleaded guilty in the Rotorua District Court to breaches under the Health and Safety Act. CTU lawyer Nigel Hampton QC said he was skeptical about WorkSafe’s ability after representing the families of miners killed in the Pike River disaster in 2010. … He said the CTU did not do anything differently in its private prosecution to what WorkSafe would have done had it decided to proceed with its prosecution. …

Well done to the CTU. But it shouldn’t take a private prosecution – WorkSafe needs to lift its game.

15 comments on “Why did this take a private prosecution?”

  1. RedLogix 1

    And as Nigel Hampton also points out; it opens some very pointy questions about Worksafe’s failure to prosecute over Pike River.

    In my opinion Worksafe is being politically interfered with. There will be no paper trail, emails or texts.(Unless they are being more monumentally stupid than usual).

    Nah – a few quiet drinkies and hints of a ‘bright professional future’ would be all it takes.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Controlling the budget for prosecutions is a very effective way to stymie cases.

      • dukeofurl 1.1.1

        “16 December 2013
        WorkSafe New Zealand starts work this morning to transform New Zealand-wide attitudes and performance in workplace health and safety.

        WorkSafe NZ Chair, Professor Gregor Coster says the new Crown Agency has the mandate and the resources to play its critical role in looking to ensure workers in New Zealand come home healthy and safe every day.

        “For the first time in recent history, the workplace health and safety regulator is now properly funded, high on the Government’s agenda, and breaking into the consciousness of more and more Kiwis.”

        Who is one to believe?

        “We will build high quality working relationships with industry and workers – and their representative organisations, such as Business NZ and NZCTU”
        Must be some other CTU ?

        http://www.business.govt.nz/worksafe/news/releases/2013/worksafe-new-zealand-launched

        • dukeofurl 1.1.1.1

          The bad news is that CTU has three other cases in pipeline!

          Too incredible for words .

          • Skinny 1.1.1.1.1

            Work Safe are full of noise to workers and Unions then as Mikey Savvy says “think of their funding” under this corrupt regime in charge, and very quickly dampen the noise down to a whisper. I was at a conference where some bottom feeders from Work Safe were guest speakers. I put them on the spot over the piss weak whistleblower legislation. All one of these goons could come up with when the audience gave them the hard glare, was call our 0800 number and we will sort it…be safe and thanks for your time. Ffs it was laughable, if it wasn’t such a serious issue.

            The opposition party’s could well look to stiffen up the protected disclosures ACT so any worker speaking up gets full protection from vengeful employers, including hefty fines and penalties to the bad bosses, and large compensation to the whistle blower.

        • Wensleydale 1.1.1.2

          That’s the biggest pile of arse I’ve read in years.

  2. Tricledrown 2

    The party of personal responsibility and let’s get tough on criminals.
    Pure hypocracy manslaughter charges would be brought against those responsible in most jurisdictions around the world.
    Where is Garth Mc Vicar.

  3. Tricledrown 3

    Minimum wage workers don’t count.
    Mobie should also be prosecuted for manslaugter by negligence of Duty failing to keep work places safe.
    Then also prosecuted for perverting the course of justice.
    And accessory to a crime.
    Come on where’s the sensible sentencing trust when you need them.

  4. Keith 4

    Could it be as simple as this; WorkSafe NZ being a creation of the ideological freak laboratory of the National Party has a brief to be as accommodating to business as is possible, to the point of ignoring the laws, even as watered down as they are?

    Does WorkSafe’s corporate mission statement read; “The safety and preservation of shareholder profits are paramount in our calculation of culpability and any individual whose safety demands tax such profits must be seen as the offender”.

  5. Tricledrown 5

    Mobie it should be.
    Click to edit button doesn’t work

  6. James 6

    As someone who disagrees with almost every post on the Standard – I agree with you on this one.

    Well done CTU and yes – Worksafe should a) raise their game and b) be accountable for stuffing this up.

    • dukeofurl 6.1

      3 more CTU run prosecutions on work place deaths coming. Not sure if they are forestry ?

  7. Rosemary McDonald 7

    WorkSafe NZ has prosecuted in the event of a death in the workplace.

    In this instance, the employer was prosecuted for ” failing to take all practicable steps to ensure people were not harmed by employees, a charge laid under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.”

    A guilty plea, and a fine.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/67179705/Palmerston-North-respite-home-fined-63k-over-teens-drowning

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/67213437/Nathan-Bookers-death-totally-preventable-says-judge

    The employee now faces a manslaughter charge.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/68359014/Nathan-Booker-death-Woman-arrested-a-year-after-teen-died-in-bath

    Wearing my disability rights hat…well and good. This worker’s negligence cost a young man his life. They should be held accountable.

    Wearing my workers’ rights hat…

  8. Atiawa 8

    A friend working on a Taranaki land based rig four years ago suffered a serious workplace injury while working on the drill floor. The job (slips) required three workers and the company provided only two. He wasn’t a union member but the union assisted him at MBIE.
    His injuries included a broken leg, heel and ankle. There was no qualified first aider or procedures to follow for such an event, and he was lifted from the drill floor to the lunch room whereby the company man placed a bag of frozen peas on his leg ( how thoughtful). My friend explained that the injury was serious and to ring an ambulance. Instead of heeding that advice from the injured party the company man with the assistance of colleagues placed him in the back of a ute and drove him to New Plymouth hospital, and in the process through the town of Stratford – which has an ambulance service -. Upon there arrival in New Plymouth my friend was required to give the driver instructions as to where the base hospital is. He spent several weeks in hospital and walks with a permanent limp. His mental health was affected for quite some time.
    WorkSafe refused to prosecute. There argument being that the company had since improved the practice of utilising two workers when three were required.
    When the union went into the workplace (the hotel where they stayed) to recruit the workers and sign them into the Multi Employer Collective Agreement covering these workers along with electing delegates and H&S rep’s, and although they were all keen to join, upon reading their Individual Employment Agreements and within 24 hours of joining, rang the union stating that they feared for their jobs as the IEA (agreement – take it or leave it, so unsure how that constitutes an “agreement” ) had the 90 day trial period included and if the company knew they had joined the union, their jobs were in jeopardy.

  9. Save NZ 9

    The Nats cronyism and interference is paying government officials NOT to do their job. No wonder the country is in deficit!

    Remember Susan Devoy being advised NOT to answer her phone. Her job is to follow instructions and NOT do anything.

    WorkSafe seem to prosecute the ‘small players’ – farmers when a quad bike rolls for example.

    For the big business – nothing to see here.

    Like Pike River no justice done – just a whitewash enquiry.

    The focus of prosecuting small players does two things, it makes small business lobby for less regulation and appear to support the big players who get to do virtually what ever they like. And their is no back lash against the dwindling controls or fairness in the workplace because MSM publishes these pathetic cases that appear to be beating up the little guy.

    This technique is also being used with RMA. Make the average joe sweat just to do minor consents, and then devastate the environment both rural and urban with sweeping changes that enable big players to do what ever they want in this country – hell even the little guys now just need to get a planner, write a 100 page report that finds zero effects, and bobs your uncle – no worries – everything is granted – you don’t need to follow rules anymore.

    Just like safety regulations in the workplace.

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