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Worksafe must learn lessons – forestry Industry cannot self-regulate

14 Aug

Council of Trade Unions Media release

14 August 2014

“The CTU does not support Worksafe’s submission to the independent Forestry Review Panel that there can be an “industry led” approach to addressing the serious issues workers in the sector are facing.” CTU President, Helen Kelly said.

“We believe Worksafe should learn by experience of its predecessors where industry led initiatives have not worked. In March 2011 MBIE developed a number of Sector Action Plans in our most dangerous industries (Construction, Agriculture, Forestry, Manufacturing and Fishing). They ran until 2013 and were intended to result in a significant reduction in injuries in these sectors. They were industry driven in industries that had shown a lack of capacity to deal with the safety issues. Four of these had an “industry lead” Safety Council structure with only manufacturing having worker representation. In forestry the FOA health and safety committee took on this role. In construction a specific Construction Safety Council was the lead industry body and similarly in Agriculture (Agriculture Health and Safety Council). In Fishing, Maritime NZ took a different approach and led the Safety Council initiative (Fishsafe) The only industry where serious harm injuries notably reduced was fishing. In others the figures increased.” Kelly said.

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It doesn’t have to be like this (1/10)

8 Aug

CTU tells Select Committee workplaces must be made safer

26 Jun

The CTU has today made a strong oral submission to the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee on the Health and Safety Reform Bill.

“It is possible to turn around the terrible record of health and safety in this country, but this will only be possible if all the pieces of the jigsaw are put together.” CTU President, Helen Kelly said.

“We know that workers have a critical role to play in making workplaces safe. Worker voices need to be heard and taken seriously through formal processes within the workplace. Worker representation in decisions about workplace health and safety adds insight and value which can save lives.” Kelly said.

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Workplace bullies make their victims’ lives hell

1 May

Alessandra Keighley was bullied at work.

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The tactics of a workplace bully don’t seem like a big deal – a constant glare from a co-worker, the silent treatment, being ignored, or treated in a rude and disrespectful manner.

But the insidious behaviour could be costing New Zealand businesses billions of dollars a year. In neighbouring Australia, workplace bullying has been estimated to cost more than A$6 billion (NZ$6.4b) annually.

In contrast to playground bullying, its workplace counterpart can be more difficult to define. Cases often involve employees being bullied by more senior staff members, leaving victims feeling helpless.

It’s an issue that’s not uncommon – a 2012 study by the New Zealand Work Research Institute at AUT University found almost one in five New Zealanders had experienced workplace bullying- and it’s happening right here in Taranaki.

Andrew Laurenson, a partner at New Plymouth legal firm Govett- Quilliam who specialises in employment litigation, says he has seen about 15 instances where legal action has been taken due to workplace bullying.

"I deal with it from all sorts of different angles."

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Huntly McDonald’s – from sauna to cool oasis

15 Mar

A routine site visit to Huntly McDonalds on Wednesday 12 March turned into more of a sauna visit with the temperature in store exceeding 30 degrees in all areas from foyer through to kitchen. Staff were clearly not happy and were relieved to see me onsite even wanting to walkout.

According to the workers, this has been an ongoing issue as their air conditioning system is prone to breaking down and sending temperatures in the store above 30 degrees. On this occasion, the office temperature reading was 31 degrees so you could imagine what the cooking area was like.

After notifying the Restaurant Manager that this clearly was a risk to the health and safety of workers onsite and that workers were well within their rights to walk out, the air-conditioning system was immmediately fixed and will be continually monitored to ensure it remains that way.

Staff were elated that their work place air-conditioning system has been fixed and an oasis of calm has returned to their work site. Customers have also relayed how pleased they are at how cool the restaurant is and that I should do site checks more often.

By Angelyse-Heitiare Armstrong, Unite Organiser for South Auckland/Waikato

Fundraising website for Forestry Workers Memorial Day – please circulate and support

19 Feb

Dear everyone,

Below is a link to our fundraising website to bring the forestry families to Wellington for WMD events on 27/28 April including a memorial service on 27, a street collection and procession on 28 (a general union event for all workers killed at work). We are going to need reasonable sums to get all those that want to come down here but it will be a very worthwhile event and with the high visibility of this campaign and the families themselves fundraising, I am confident we can get there. Can you please circulate this as widely as possible including in union newsletters etc if possible.

Thanks and regards

Helen Kelly

President

NZ Council of Trade Unions

https://www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/supportforestryfamilies

McD’s Kaikohe: No Air Conditioning – No Workers

31 Jan

Kaikohe McDonald’s crew strike over health and safety.

By Gary Cranston, Unite Organiser for Northland

Workers at McDonald’s Kaikohe walked off the job today to escape the heat caused by a broken air conditioning system.

Not only did management ignore repeated requests for the system to be fixed, but the Restaurant Manager would turn off the extraction fans sending the temperature through the roof. The ventilation system has been broken for over a month in the heat of summer.

According to the workers, who began taking thermometers to work with them, the temperature inside the store was regularly exceeding 30 degrees.

After the workers walked off the job, they were met by family and friends and marched down the main street of Kaikohe to be joined by a supportive and vocal community. Arthur Harawira, the local Mana Party representative, joined the workers on Broadway, megaphone in hand.

A couple of hours later, the workers received notice that the air conditioning system had been fixed.

“We are all absolutely rapped and proud of what we did today” said one of the workers.

Note: According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Development website; “Strikes and lockouts are also lawful where those striking or locking out have reasonable grounds for believing that the strike or lockout is justified on safety or health grounds.”

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