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CTU calls on Minister to resign

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

"Comments by ACC Minister Judith Collins today that there is not a health and safety issue in New Zealand workplaces is so unbelievable and so out of touch that she should either resign or the Prime Minister should dismiss her", CTU President Helen Kelly said.

Ms Collins told the National Business Review that because the cost to ACC of non-work accidents is higher than workplace accidents, this means the situation in New Zealand workplaces is acceptable despite the 207,000 workplace accident claims made to ACC each year and the recent Government commissioned Independent Taskforce into Health and Safety which acknowledged major reform is needed in our approach to workplace health and safety because of our appalling record in this area.

Ms Collins is working against the Government programme in this area where John Key has assured the families of workplace accident victims including the families of Pike River that the unacceptable safety record in our workplaces will come down with the Government setting a reduction target of 25%.

Helen Kelly said "That anyone after Pike River can suggest we are doing OK let alone the Minister for ACC shows a total disrespect for workers and their families and cannot be left in a position like the ACC Minister which collects huge levies from workers and their families for coverage".

"Ms Collins’ statement that the forestry sector is not dangerous because of the relatively small cost to ACC is heartless to those more than 1,000 families who have had family members in the industry hurt or killed since Ms Collins Government came to power, and mirrors the attitude of her colleague Simon Bridges who continues to assert he has the injury issues in Forestry under control. ACC costs in relation to the size on the industry are massive in Forestry and the accident rate is seven times that of any other industry in the country. Families will be mortified that she is belittling their attempts to get these matters addressed".

Helen Kelly said that the recommendations from the taskforce have been accepted by the Government almost in their entirety because of a recognition that too many New Zealand workers are being hurt or killed at work. If the Prime Minister allows this Minister to continue in a role tasked with injury prevention, it will raise serious issues about what this Governments commitment really is to this issue and whether anything will truly change under his watch.

Helen Kelly noted that Ms Collins has also criticised CTU provision of training for workplace health and safety representatives which is done on the same basis as Business New Zealand. Helen Kelly said that the Minister was now getting directly involved in operational ACC issues which is highly inappropriate.

"However," said Helen Kelly, "the CTU is more than happy to engage with anybody about the value of worker participation in health and safety including the ACC funded training programme we run".

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