“The attack by ACC Minister on the training of Health and Safety representatives today undermines the commitment over 27,000 workers have made to taking on the challenging role of representing workers in health and safety in their workplaces”, said Helen Kelly, CTU President today.
“In what is a political attack on the CTU rather than a considered response to how best to use ACC injury prevention funds, Ms Collins proposes wrongly that the CTU training is not evidence or results based despite extremely positive evaluations of the programme. Workers are required to be trained in order to exercise powers such as the issuing of Hazard Notices under the current Act and those that take on the role do so as a service to those they work alongside. There is no evidence the CTU training or the identical training provided by Business NZ or Impac is not robust and she does them no service by casting doubt on it without basis”.
“As the Governments own taskforce recorded, workplace representatives need to be more prevalent and have more powers to truly fulfil the important role workers play in health and safety and making training easily available to them is an essential component of that. Lack of worker participation has been described as a major weakness in the current system. Contrary to Ms Collins’ assertion that ACC funding is being used to subsidise big business – it is being used to trained workers on the law and how to represent others to keep them safe.”
“As Ms Collins mentions, ACC fund three organisations to do this training. The CTU receives identical ACC support per person trained as Business NZ and Impac, a private company. The CTU offers free training to workers, and employers contribute by paying the wages for workers to attend the programme.”
Helen Kelly said “the CTU has nevertheless been very vocal that the current provisions for worker participation are not working effectively and the Taskforce recommendations have been welcomed by us in an effort to improve worker safety. The Government has said it will adopt the recommendations almost in full and this will require workplace representatives to have appropriate training. We are very happy to be part of developing what that training best includes and the most effective way to ensure it is available. We also are certain that more training will be required to make the system work.”
“In the meantime” she said, “the Minister should stop playing games with health and safety using it to attack the CTU, recognise the commitment we have shown to assisting workers get the training they need, but most importantly support those representatives that have been through our training and continue to do this heroic work in their workplaces”.