TWITTER WATCH UPDATE: Seeing as Jessica Williams has demanded it, let’s look at the criticism of Andrew Little, the EPMU and the Pike River Mine


Jessica Williams from the PSA Wellington Comms Team has fired up on Twitter with this wee charmer…

…this was in reference to the following comment I’d made yesterday regarding how clever Winston’s Pike River ploy had been

The second reason is that Andrew Little was the Leader of the EPMU right before the Pike River Mine accident. There have been all sorts of quiet angry questions about the role of the EPMU in the lead up to the Pike River Mine accident and if there’s anyone who can research those questions and bring them into the open, it’s Winston.

…which then opened up a deluge of abuse from the Wellington Twitteratti and Wellington Union Comm Identitarians.

For the record I’m  not “Union-hating”, I’m incredibly pro Union! I see the immediate mandatory unionisation of the entire workforce of NZ as an important step forward for social justice in New Zealand. We need more unions, more union power and a far larger unionised work population if we are serious about sharing the harvest of society equally.

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What I can’t stand however are Identitarian hyper-Activists who use their role in Unions as a superiority complex to attack others from.

An incredibly unjustified superiority complex I might add.

Normally I just block and mute this crap, but I reflected on this tirade of abuse for merely stating fact, and I thought to myself if progressive voices in social media don’t stand up to these crazy alienating clowns then we’ll all be cowering to them forever.

So ok. Let’s be havin’ ya.

Yes Wellington Twitteratti I said…

The second reason is that Andrew Little was the Leader of the EPMU right before the Pike River Mine accident. There have been all sorts of quiet angry questions about the role of the EPMU in the lead up to the Pike River Mine accident and if there’s anyone who can research those questions and bring them into the open, it’s Winston.

…I simply said “quiet angry questions about the role of the EPMU in the lead up to the Pike River Mine accident”, while your responses were the usual viciously tribal and alienating pile-ons that make voting for Trump look preferable.

Here’s one…

…right. So only rabid right wing voices have any criticism of Andrew Little and the EPMU at the time of the Pike River Mine Disaster and my daring to mention it meant I was using right wing attack lines?

Is that the insinuation?

Well allow me to respond Alex.

How does Against the Current sound Alex? The hard core, marxist blog site. Are they fucking card carrying members of the Cameron Slater and David Farrar right wing hate cult?

They are a very left, very critical voice in the NZ blogosphere who have made damning case after damning case of the role of Little and the EPMU. Allow me to quote at length

We look back at the role of Andrew Little and the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union in the Pike River mining disaster.

I don’t usually repost my own posts and, in fact, this is the first repost I’ve ever done. But I think it is worth giving this story another airing given the rise in political prominence of Andrew Little. I considered rewriting the story but I think the original post speaks for itself. It outlines the role of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) in the Pike River mining disaster, which saw 29 men lose their lives.

Labour Party leader Andrew Little was national secretary of the EPMU at the time. This story was first published on 8 November, 2012.

Last month Andrew Little went to Pike River to attend the memorial to mark the fourth anniversary of the tragedy. He told the media that he attended the commemorations to stand alongside the families.

WHEN THE Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Pike River mining disaster issued its report this week, the response of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) was immediate. It issued a press statement welcoming the report and is encouraging the Government to implement the recommended changes as soon as possible.

The statement quoted EPMU assistant national secretary Ged O’Connell who declared that the report should mark a turning point for mine safety in New Zealand:

This report is a damning indictment of New Zealand’s deregulated health and safety regime. Pike River Coal Ltd should never have been allowed to operate in the way it did, and in other countries it wouldn’t have been allowed to.

The report makes clear that the tragic loss of life at Pike River could have been prevented with stronger regulations, an independent and well-resourced mine safety inspectorate and genuine worker involvement in health and safety.

We hope the failings exposed in this report spell the end of the deregulated health and safety regime of the last 20 years. This vindicates the union’s repeated calls for improvements in mine safety and for the reintroduction of check inspectors.

This statement represents a complete change of heart by the EPMU officialdom because it was never critical of Pike River Coal (PRC) during the time that the mine was open. The EPMU represented approximately half of the 140 miners on the site.

After the first explosion the EPMU strongly defended the management of PRC.

EPMU National secretary Andrew Little (now a Labour MP) told the New Zealand Herald on November 22 2010 that there was “nothing unusual about Pike River or this mine that we’ve been particularly concerned about”.

He then appeared on TVNZ’s Close Up to again defend PRC management.

He told Close Up that underground mining was inherently unsafe and the risk of gas explosions, particularly on the West Coast, was high.

While the industry was aware of the risks and took the necessary precautions, unfortunately these kinds of incidents still happened, he argued.

On November 26, 2010 the Dominion Post ran an article that denounced ‘wild’ rumours that the mine was not safe. It declared that “Any suggestion of obvious or known safety lapses does not find traction with unionised staff or union leader Andrew Little.”

Andrew Little’s conciliatory views toward PRC management were echoed by Labour MP Damien O’Connor. He suggested that no one was responsible for the accident and that the disaster was “just one of these things that the West Coast unfortunately has had to get used to over the years”.

Little and O’Connor’s views would of found favour with the Minister for Energy and Resources, Gerry Brownlee. He insisted that PRC had “an absolute focus on health and safety”.

So here we had the Government, the Labour Party and the EPMU all lining up to defend the management of PRC.

At the time this writer commented: “All workers at the mining site should be seriously concerned that the EPMU has such a benevolent view of its safety standards.”

The views of Andrew Little and the EPMU flew in the face of expert opinion.

While Andrew Little was defending PRC an Australian gas drainage engineer, who wished to remain anonymous because he feared ‘recriminations’, said he visited Pike River in 2009 and observed that its operating standards were “extremely poor”.

He said that he had been told by miners that the mine was flooded with methane gas about three weeks before the first explosion.

He said miners had bored through ‘high flow methane holes’ without any risk assessment conducted or procedure on how to manage gas flow from the hole in place. He was critical that PRC has not yet implemented a gas drainage drilling regime that could relieve the pressure when there was a build up of gas by drilling a hole in the coal seam.

The New Zealand Herald, also in November 2010, quoted Gerry Morris of Greymouth, a former writer for Coal magazine, who said he had heard regularly from contractors at the mine “over the last two or three years that this mine is unsafe, there’s far too much gas, there’s going to be a disaster here one day”.

But despite the overwhelming evidence that there was something seriously and dangerously wrong at the Pike Rive mine, the officials of the EPMU did nothing.

The mine opened in November 2008 and on not one occasion did the EPMU initiate industrial action or even criticise PRC’S safety standards, even after a group of workers walked off the job to protest the lack of basic emergency equipment.

The walk out by miners was revealed by miner Brent Forrester. He told TVNZ’s Sunday on December 5 2010 that he once helped organise a walkout of about 10 miners to protest the lack of basic emergency equipment, including stretchers and an emergency transport vehicle. They received no support from the EPMU. Andrew Little even insisted that PRC “had a good health and safety committee that’s been very active.”

It was exactly this benevolent attitude by the EPMU that allowed PRC – and the Department of Labour – to continue as if it was just ‘business a usual’. It appears that no-one was protecting the interests and concerns of the workers on the mining site. The EMPU failed to organise industrial action to address safety concerns at the mine in favour of ‘cooperating’ with management, what it and the CTU sometimes refer to as ‘modern unionism’.

There won’t be any resignations from within the EPMU for dereliction of duty and, of course, Andrew Little has escaped to Parliament.

…so yes, there are quiet angry voices that are critical of the EPMU and Little that are not right wing fanatics!

For stating this fact I’m Wellington Twitteratti cat nip am I?

Now were the EPMU victims of a weakened Union movement or accepting of it – that’s a point you can argue to death with the Marxists, but to suggest no one on the left has criticised Little or the EPMU is a demonstrably false one. The Socialist’s also attacked the Union.

These bullshit social media pile ons for stating things that are actually true are alienating to everyone outside their echo chamber.


UPDATE: These people are incredible. Instead of pausing and reflecting on their own issues here, they double down with this bullshit…

you’ll note this was published in the raw news feed of TDB, that’s where TDB automatically posts press releases from a  range of different groups. Publishing a press release is not even close to endorsing or supporting that post, it’s done as a service to the news reading audience of TDB to see what different press releases are saying that day. Bloody Scoop, their cherished Wellington Media Bastion of Journalism PUBLISHED THE SAME BLOODY PRESS RELEASE. Are these Wellington Twitteratti screaming at Scoop?

To attempt to make this proof that The Daily Blog is not Left Wing says more about their need to avoid the criticisms made than any claim TDB is anti-abortion. It’s a nasty smear by people who are being manipulative and know that they are purposely misleading people.

They are just unbelievable!




  1. Please please , let it go Martyn. This is about the Pike Families. This is disrespectful for those who have been through enough. Not about you or politics or grandstanding, or Andrew Little or petty fights with union coms people, or anyone else except them. I stand with Pike. I have done since 2010

  2. You are an amazing person with years of good work advocating for workers, Darien, but you are wrong here.

    This gang has been attacking Martyn constantly for years. They even set up an alternative left wing blog called “On the Left” which turned out to be a failed experiment. They have an extreme grudge against the Daily Blog and especially Bradbury.

    Martyn is totally correct when he says they lack solidarity in attacking this news and opinion outlet. This is a forum where other union organizers frequently post. They also appear to have little sympathy for other left wing voices that are not as far to the centre as they are. They clearly consider themselves to be radical but their form of identity politics takes at least one victim per month, online: they frequently gang up on usually left-identifying voices and drive them off Twitter. They are not above making unsubstantiated allegations about people’s sexual behavior in attempts to ruin people’s careers. They do all this and more while being employed by one of the largest unions in the country, during work hours. It’s disgraceful, alienating, and often cruel.

    This group actually have a longer history. They have been hanging up and attacking people on Reddit too. They DOX people, they spread vicious rumors and they call employers and so forth. They have attempted to destroy people in real life just as they have on Twitter.

    They are utterly vicious, constantly on the lookout for new victims, and do not help the left or their union one bit.

    • David;

      If what you are saying here is true,then they seem to be not genuine union people at all. More like infiltrators.

      Webster Tarpley constantly reminded to always look out for people ‘acting under
      left cover’.

      ‘This Gang’ as you call them seem to be acting more in line as ‘intel or asset trolls.’

      And judging by Jason’s comment below might not be far off the mark.

      I have had personal experience of (as delegate) the PSA acting as an agent for the employer rather than that of their paying clients.


      • I’ve also had personal experience. Then I was contacted by an activist connected to Wikileaks.

        He said that, after spending 10 years investigating, that the union movement and all progressive movements were infiltrated from the word go.

        An example he gave was Occupy. He said that there was CIA and SIS there from the beginning. The guy had documents but laughed about sharing them. “Repeat something enough times and it is the truth” he said to me a couple of times.

        Now I understand that particular person lives overseas. He personally uncovered a major particular scandal (which I believe because he showed me the documents) but chose to leave New Zealand after suffering extreme harassment. He said that NZ was a Police State, and that “with rebellion comes awareness”. Well OK to be honest I met him in southern thailand.

        Maybe he made it all up but I don’t think so. He seemed genuine.

  3. When you look at the history and the decline of Unions in NZ since 1991 there have been many unnecessary deaths but only thing that surprises me is there have not been more horrific disasters like this.

    By the time of this disaster the EPMU “was marginalised and irrelevant”. I know exactly what is like to work in an industry with marginalised unions. The bosses always get their way.

    Oh yes hindsight is a fine thing but if I recall correctly mining was becoming marginal on the West Coast and as always so was employment in general and this mine with support of this very business friendly National government exploited that uncertainty to the hilt for a quick buck.

    There are laws in this country that are supposed to protect workers, we all know that and we also know that those laws that are regularly flouted because this very government made damned sure there was NO teeth to enforce them. No Union is the police officer, it is merely the very strong conscious of those laws and in better times ensured they applied. By 2012 Unions were gutted and flat lining. It appears joining the EPMU or having a job was a horrible choice to make (again something I have seen) and I am guessing that mine was not well unionised.

    From the NZ Herald

    To quote Mike Winter then of the EPMU “Winter found Pike management “arrogant and unwilling to listen. They were prepared to tolerate the presence of the union in line with their legislative obligations, but they were not at all interested in developing a good relationship.”

    “In 2009, when health and safety manager Neville Rockhouse sought to have the union involved in a training exercise, Peter Whittall told him in an email: “Please do not use the union in the same sentence as anything at Pike. Our relationship and the way we communicate is between us and our employees.”

    This mine was a disaster waiting to happen because profit was all that mattered and the safety oversight that every miner was entitled to, to prevent what would be expected in a country that is less than 3rd world was not there. Jobs were played off against safety and in a desperate place bastards like the management of Pike River exploited that desperation.

    By 2012 rich men had got their way, no more stupid unions costing them money, no need to comply with the law and even if you were caught out no one would ever ever hold the culpable responsible because they knew they were ably supported by the millionaires of the National Party who would have their backs all the way.

    And if you don’t believe that then who in the management of Pike River was EVER held responsible for these men’s deaths? In fact who at all was ever held responsible? Answer, NO ONE!

    If this was 1975 then yes the Union would be to some extent blameworthy for failing to act but it wasn’t because by 2012 they were debarked and neutered.

    But to somehow blame Andrew Little really seems to me to be wrong and pointless.

  4. Martyn;

    Having only now read all the links/info on Pike River you must be commended for
    your excellent work. This is serious stuff indeed.

    Both Labour and Nats are responsible as well as the union because they could
    have LEGALLY done something to help/fix the situation it seems.

    The usual word I used to get from union officials was that THEY were afraid of
    being sued or worst still jailed.
    In other words the legislation scared them off,called their bluff, even though there were still legal channels they could have pursued.(especially Health&Safety.)
    That was the excuse anyway.

    The other tactic of course was do not respond to letters of complaint they might
    deem in ‘the to hard basket’. (Don’t visit site and let us battle on,under pressure,
    until the ‘Burn Out’ stage.)

    When unions negotiated to let new recruits in on lesser conditions than the
    existing employee’s then of course the goal would be to shed the old one’s as
    fast as possible.(whilst training the new ones of course.)

    As for the ‘euthanasia bill’, I could not agree with your stance more.

    The Doctors Ass. do not agree as well? Doesn’t it happen already in the rare
    cases that deserve it? On the quiet.

    As soon as it is law,to me, it is the thin edge of the wedge.
    The list recently you put up of Judith Collins wishes to withhold medical
    treatment (not complete either) is enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine.

    I was not aware of these attacks you have suffered,appalling.
    I used to think sometimes whether some of these top union officials were
    somehow ‘bought off’ or not.’ Just thinking.

    Keep up the good work.!


  5. “The west coast miners have a proud tradition of unionism that led the way in the fight to win improved conditions not only in the mines but in all workplaces in NZ. The west coast miners stood firm with the wharfies in 1951 until the navy was sent to scab on the miners. Today it is a scandal that the miners’ union, the EPMU, should be included along with the company and the Government as contributing to the conditions that led to the Pike River mine disaster. Workers in this country should make it their duty to revive the west coast unions along with the rest of NZ union movement in the tradition of the militant unionism of the Red Fed and take charge of health and safety monitoring so that such a disaster never happens again!”

    • That’s $5 a week in fees. You’d want to try and make workers better off by at least $10 a week with in a reasonable time frame. And these funds may be a shot in the arm because of how unstable the work force is.

      It is difficult for ordinary people to equate a kid dying from drug abuse with the loss of 50 jobs from 20 years ago. But this is a broad range of issue that has to settle on a price, that can be cleared in a reasonable time frame. It has to be a price that can clear political hurdles as well as being affordable to all those involved.

  6. As a former Journalist (before her twitter antics made her unemployable in the sector*) maybe Jessica Williams might be able to help me with a word to describe when a group completely lacks any self awareness.

    *source; told to me by several media executives.

  7. Hang in there Bomber!. Thanks for your research. I find all of this illuminating.Having lived in Wellington (albeit decades ago) none of the shit being flung at you surprises me.

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