Happy Easter holidays to you all. The Easter break is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with family and close friends. The most important things in life, I reckon.
Unfortunately, I received some terrible news at the start of the Easter break that reminded me once again of the importance of family and friends.
Late on Thursday night I received a call informing me that a dairy industry worker had been killed on his way home from work. I know that the NZ Dairy Workers’ Union (DWU) site delegate and local organiser are in contact with the deceased worker’s family, but I would like to take this opportunity to also pass on my own deepest sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of the deceased worker. The thoughts of all the DWU’s members and officials are with you during this tough time.
Whilst this fatality did not occur at work but on the way home from work, it once again reminded me of the recent spate of workplace injuries and fatalities. Last week, another forestry worker was killed at work; the third fatality this year in that industry and the 24th since 2007.
The President of the NZ Council of Trade Unions, Helen Kelly has recently written about the tragic loss of life in the forestry sector. A New Zealand forestry worker is six times more likely to die at work than a UK forestry worker, and twice as likely as an Australian forestry worker. I do not believe that it is a coincidence that one of New Zealand’s most de-unionised industries also has one of the highest levels of workplace fatalities and serious injuries.
The CTU has called for an inquiry to enable an in-depth look at the systemic causes of death and injury in the forestry industry. I support this proposal. Too many forestry workers are dying or being seriously injured at work. To draw attention to the human face of this tragedy, the union movement has launched the “What Killed Ken Callow” campaign. Ken Callow was one of the 24 workers who lost their lives in the forestry industry over the last six years. The campaign is aimed at trying to get the Government to agree to an inquiry into the forestry sector, and to implement health and safety and employment standards that stop the deaths and injuries of forestry workers. I urge you to visit the campaign site, watch the video clip about Ken and support the campaign in whatever way you can.
We must do everything we can to ensure workers come home from work.