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Why we train health and safety reps

Written By: - Date published: 4:31 pm, February 28th, 2014 - 14 comments
Categories: ACC, class war, health and safety - Tags:

Following the attack by Judith Collins on the CTU and Business NZ Health and Safety Training we have had lots of interest in how the courses we run are recognised and funded etc.

The NZCTU has been running the courses on contract to ACC since 2003.  Worker participation and Health and Safety Reps are a fundamental and vital component of the overall health and safety regulatory system as the 2012 Task Force acknowledged.

The training has been undertaken at considerable cost to the CTU in management and other costs. More than 30,000 HS Reps have been trained.

The CTU became involved in 2003 because the DOL took no steps, as the Government regulator responsible for the HSE Act, to promote, recognise or train the HS Reps introduced by the 2002 HSE Act amendment. To its credit the ACC agreed to a joint venture with the CTU to do so.  Business NZ was added as a provider after the ACC/CTU training programme was successfully promoted and established.

The ACC/CTU training has had several very positive evaluative assessments . Managers and Supervisors have been welcomed to the training and have also been positive about the training.

In 2008 ACC decided to tender the training out and issued a Request for Proposals (RFP).

Of course with our history and interest we provided a tender proposal and participated in the process.  The reality was those at ACC at the time had no commitment to Union lead health and safety training and the ideology at the time (still existent) was that somehow these representatives operated in a vacuum from the power relationships in a workplace that actually need support to overcome.  The same panic we are seeing now in the Supermarket inquiry (will suppliers feel free to submit in the power imbalance between them and the supermarket chains?) applies at double strength to workers.

I remember we got through the first round tender process and then heard it was likely ACC would dump both BusNZ and CTU and go with a “neutral” third provider – still in the market – Impac Training.  We voiced our concerns strongly, and it was recognised that unions actually provided training to a different group of workers than Business NZ or Impac would and that without tripartite participation in this important area of training, it was a “risk” to ACC to simply focus on one provider.  Our other concern was that of the three providers – we were (and still are) the only provider that does not charge an additional charge on top of the ACC funds provided for the job.  Our view was employers pay the leave, ACC pays the cost and we provide the training – it was a fair enough balance.

Eventually ACC also agreed that three providers was a safe way to go and the NZCTU had a legitimate role in providing training to workers who were elected as health and safety reps (and we subsequently have trained over 200 ACC reps on our programmes).  The awarding of contracts to the three providers resulted in a collaboration between us all to deliver a high quality training programme that ensured sufficient capacity in the system to meet the demand for rep training, meant each of the three providers could play to its strengths and enabled some competition in the system (which ACC thought was an important part of having more than one provider).

Over the last few years the contracts have changed since that first tender including constant reductions in the numbers of trainees we are funded to train and a narrowing down of the industries where trainees can be trained from (forestry, construction, agriculture, trucking and manufacturing).  The consequence we imagine, is that many workers now miss out on the training they need to use their powers in the Health and Safety Act (which requires attendance at a course approved by the Minister of Labour).

Our contract to train has been renewed for another year (see a previously released contract here – we are happy to release the new one which is very similar but with reduced numbers, but we need ACC agreement to do this).  But there is also a process that started last year to develop an expanded and/or new model for health and safety rep training consistent with the legal changes coming down the line in the Government’s programme to strengthen health and safety.  The CTU on behalf of workers given their vital interest in this has had numerous meetings with the Government last year and this year including WorkSafe about what scheme, under new health and safety law, is needed to ensure trained workers health and safety representatives across NZ industry are truly able to work in their workplaces to make them safe – that is a tricky question and requires a range of solutions in our view.

The Minister called our courses a rort and a scam despite us meeting our deliverables, ACC itself having put 200 reps through and the Minister of Labour approving and Gazetting the programme.  We don’t expect it will be her last attack on us and her mate Jordan Williams does those 30,000 trained reps a great disservice by supporting her attacks.  We have written to TVNZ about their liability broadcasting the Ministers defamation of us and this will either fuel the fire or they will do the thing any reasonable State Broadcaster would do and apologise.  Time will tell.

We anticipate further attacks by those that don’t want workers to know their health and safety rights and this blog is intended to set out the issues clearly for when and if that occurs (so bear with me!)


14 comments on “Why we train health and safety reps”

  1. fender 1

    You do wonderful work Helen. I certainly don’t envy you having to have any contact with the hideous minister Collins. As for that creep Williams, he must have been promised lower taxes if he picks up her crap and throws it around on her behalf.

    Hurry up TVNZ; apologise for repeating the defamatory comments!

  2. xtasy 2

    Helen, I agree with a lot with what you say re this, but you are up against the “chappy” from the “NZ Taxpayer’s Union” now, who considers all this a waste of money (taxpayer’s money). He has a bit of an easy argument, same like many employers, that such things can be communicated much more “cheaply” by simply having people view clips online, by downloading a video stream or so from a website, and “enlighten” themselves that way.

    I worked in different roles over many years, and the influence of the internet or intranet is now so strong, that most employers will try all to not have face to face contacts with service providers or volunteers, it is “cheaper” for them to have people told, you can “look that up on our website”.

    This is standard procedure now, and that is what you and the CTU are up against. People no longer count as human, biological species in your face or presence, they either have to adopt the robot role, or use and communicate with cyber robot communicators on intra or internet. Welcome to the digital age!

    As that is dealt with, where is your present stand on this, please?



    Do you know the background of one Dr David Beaumont, “President Elect” of the RACP, who have AFOEM as one of their major faculties, promoting the “work will set you free” ideology by one Professor Mansel Aylward? Do you know he runs his own NZ business called “Pathways to Work”, benefiting from contracts with MSD and ACC?

    Do you know one Helen Lockett, Policy Advisor for Workwise, who was one of the members on the “Health and Disability Panel” advising MSD and Paula Bennett on welfare reforms, and who managed to get a CONTRACT out of MSD to run trials for outsourcing work referral services and the likes for WINZ, like getting mental health sufferers and sole parents into work, for neat and rewarding “head money” fees?

    Do you know what Aylward et al are known for in the UK?




    And perhaps dare to look at this info found here, that is more relevant for NZ and people here, on benefits for sickness or disability, who are pressured to look for jobs, competing with members of your CTU unions:



    Are you still standing by your support for the AFOEM and RACP’s statement on the “health benefits of work”, in view of what the persons just referred to stand for, one having been paid for “science” by a corrupt and convicted US insurance giant, called UNUM?

    Tell us, what side are you on, dear Helen?

  3. Skinny 3

    The National Government don’t like the idea of unionists getting together in groups and organising at the taxpayers expense. That’s their real fear, workers getting together and organising themselves.

    It’s an ideological position that has caused Joyce, Key and the Right to become overly calculating and paranoid. Cutting off funding because they think the proceeds of the funding will in part go to funding the Labour Party’s election campaign, this is their real reason we all know that.
    Nevermind New Zealand’s applauding record of workplace deaths and serious injuries, that requires a social conscience, of which they are morally bankrupt.

    I find their attitude to be absolutely disgusting and beggars belief. Meanwhile day after day, week after week, year after year, the death toll mounts of worker drones of the elite.

    Rubbing salt into the wound Key, Joyce, Bridges and their elk allow the captains of industry to buy their way out of justice, as clearly illustrated by the dirty deal Key-National brokered for Peter Whittall to never face criminal charges as he should have.

  4. big bruv 4

    “The National Government don’t like the idea of unionists getting together in groups and organising at the taxpayers expense.”

    Gee, I wonder why?

    What about this for an idea, how about the low life unionists get together in groups and organise at their OWN expense?

    Why is it that you people think you should have unlimited access to tax payer funds?

    • Te Reo Putake 4.1

      You’re neither bright, bruv, or financially literate. ACC worked out earlier on that it was cheaper for the taxpayer to fund injury prevention and that training workers reps was a viable part of that program. And nobody but you is saying ‘unlimited access to taxpayer funds’. Of course, as someone who doesn’t like paying debts to individuals or society, you’re in no position to comment anyway.

    • Skinny 4.2

      Big bruv you need to seek help angry man. Sounds like you have been up to no good the way your attacking workers (Unions). Your glass house spraying about paying debts is ‘cough’ strange considering you defaulted paying up $100 bet you lost on here.

  5. big bruv 5

    Te Reo

    What is “viable” about the unions ripping off the system?

    Or does that not matter?, is it ok for unions to rip off the tax payer, is it ok for union thugs like McCarten to not pay his tax?

    Why is it that you lot are so hypocritical?

    • Te Reo Putake 5.1

      D’oh! McCarten owes nothing. The subsidiary organisation that is associated with his employer has come to a repayment arrangement with IRD, just like many other entities who owe tax. Big whoop. I’m more concerned with your own failure to repay debts and your chronic inability to work out what the reply button is for. Early onset dementia may be that answer to both.

      • big bruv 5.1.1

        McCarten took money off the fools dumb enough to join his union and failed to pass those taxes onto the government. Now, you can try and spin that any way you like but the fact remains that he did not pay what he owes the taxpayer.

        I am concerned that the corrupt Labour party has employed a man who does not pay his taxes as chief of staff (and lets be honest here, that is also untrue, McCarten has been employed by the corrupt Labour party to be the campaign manager because they are so broke they cannot afford to pay him) yet in usual left wing fashion you lot excuse him simply because he is on the same team.

        I have always known that left wing politics is corrupt, this only goes to reinforce that view.

        • Te Reo Putake

          Corruption is something you’d know more about that me, Bruv. And I find it disappointing that a champion of business such as your good self can be so ignorant of NZ commercial and tax law. McCarten is not personally liable for the debt. The entity that does owe the tax has come to a mutually satisfactory deal with IRD, as do hundreds of businesses each year.

          You can smear all you want, but Unite is a voluntary organisation and it’s members are free to leave if they don’t like any aspect of the way it operates. But they don’t. They stay, because it offers good value to them.

          Why do you hate the free market, Bruv?

    • Murray Olsen 5.2

      “Union thugs”?? You poor scared little piece of garbage. Have you got the sandbags up around your house yet for when the union thugs arrive? The thuggery I see comes from employers who send workers down unsafe mines, forestry businesses that send workers out to risk death, police that are happy to send obviously innocent young men to prison, WINZ workers who send people off with no food and even less hope……… I don’t see unions doing any of that. I do see their members get run over on picket lines while the poaka watch on. And all the likes of you ever do is grovel at the feet of your “betters”, repeating their absurd mantras while you wait for whatever they’re willing to trickle all over you. Pffft.

  6. big bruv 6

    Te Reo

    Why do you overlook left wing corruption so easily?

    Do you not see how hypocritical you look?

    • xtasy 6.1

      big bruv needs a big hug, from a motherly kind of person, but as he/she never got that, the lack of sympathy and sharing ability is evident. It is HATE, hate, and more hate, of attack and none else. Big bruv, see a counselor please, you need some help!

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