Pike River – the decade long horror for a neoliberal monument to deregulated corporate manslaughter

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And so we are here.

10 years to the day since Pike River.

The incandescent rage remains.

The disgust at John Key lying to the families about bringing home their dead boys.

The obscenity of National attempting to concrete over the Mine so that it could never be investigated.

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The fury at how the company was able to get away with corporate manslaughter and no one was held to account.

The shock realisation that there was no real safety regulation in effect.

When National & ACT scream about red tape, remind them it’s stained red from the blood of the workers who died on the job.

Pike River is a neoliberal monument to deregulated corporate manslaughter. It’s a testament to the ongoing deplorable rate of death amongst NZ workers, it’s a solemn promise that little will ever change under the neoliberal State.

While the toothless middle class Unions wring their hands, while the Labour Party only vaguely acknowledges its own role in the lack of legislative cover, and while the Political Right call for more deregulation, those 29 men still lie cold cursed under a mountain.

We should all feel ashamed at what was revealed at Pike River, we should all feel mortification that workers died and continue to die because of the WorkSafe cult of individual responsibility over collective unionism.

We should all understand Pike River was the price we paid for not having Universal Unionism.

 

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Bomber that is one of your best posts and you should never have had to write it. I won’t comment any further because you have summed up the situation with perfect clarity.

    ” Pike River is a neoliberal monument to deregulated corporate manslaughter. It’s a testament to the ongoing deplorable rate of death amongst NZ workers, it’s a solemn promise that little will ever change under the neoliberal State “

  2. We all know they will probably never recover the bodies but nobody has been held to account for the lives of those twenty eight men. Yet we have a very punitive justice system that locks up people particularly Maori for lesser crimes under the auspice of what is in the best interest of the community. Well I would like to know what happened and why and who is responsible for the Pike deaths so this never happens again. We have a two tier justice system in our country, one for the rich and powerful and one for the poor. We also have a two tier benefit system and the pandemic has highlighted this. Then we have a housing system that favours the wealthy and those already set up. The next three years requires our newly elected government to be much bolder and implement tax changes in areas necessary after all we are now living in unprecedented times and these unprecedented times require an unprecedented approach. Key increased GST when he said he wouldn’t and so a precedent as already been set. A capital gains taxes, increase the border taxes and start planting the seed for wealth taxes. These are but three measures but I am sure there are others. We have to do what is best for the majority not the small few.

  3. The Pike River & CTV building deaths were national disgraces, and that no one was held responsible is an ongoing source of shame & disgust. Justice should have been done & seen to be done.

    • Add Erebus to your list. No one held accountable for so many deaths. Jim Collins was a convenient scapegoat and could never defend himself or his reputation after Chippendale , Muldoon and Air NZ went to work on him.

  4. Reading your conclusion…
    Pike River is the price we pay for not using common sense and bureaucrats winning the day. It should have always been open cast. With a comprehensive plant to restore the landscape at the end of its life. Sad story.

    • Herman, absolute Bullshit.
      Its conservation land and there should never have been mining full stop.

      You probably have no first hand knowledge of Pike but the litany of lies from management never stopped.
      Workers who asked questions in meeting were warned and sacked.
      Methane detectors were disconnected under instructions and when the inquiry started workers were warned that if the testified they would never get another job on the coast.

      Psychopathic murderers who got away with it having john keys and the corporate octopus to help the get off Scott free.

      • A very accurate summary right there, so much more to add to that in the very near future.
        It seems the authorities are struggling to find ignition sources, once again it will be our pleasure to hand them that evidence.

  5. This was an entirely preventable disaster if proper safety procedures had been used which the old unionised system would have done. A neoliberal atrocity of increasing profits at the expense of the worker same sort of FU as the leaky home nightmare. Australia has mining too but I’ve never heard of anything like PR there. Correct me if I’m misinformed. To add insult to injury the management were allowed to get away with it without fronting up and taking the blame plus our Neokind government that aided and abetted the employer’s criminal negligence.

  6. Its not rocket science. Pike river was beset with delay after delay with safety issues in 2008 which was delaying its opening. Along came a national govt dealing with a financial crisis and in need of a export sugar hit. Soluition…. Open the mine (don’t worry Peter we will protect you if it goes pear shaped) which already had an overseas market locked in. If you want someone to blame.. Blame National.

  7. No one should go to work and die in such tragic and unavoidable circumstances. NZ has a horrible track recording of work place deaths, horrific injuries, delayed onset mortality from toxins and health issues related to ongoing stress, fatigue and unhealthy environments.
    Fishing, forest, mining are our main culprits but many smaller companies run terrible practices and underpaid staff tend not to feel so obliged to follow every bureaucratic policy and process which aims to put burden of responsibility and risk on the poor souls at the coal face while the masterminds of these ill-conceived schemes walk away from it when it goes pear shaped.
    R. I. P
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/auckland-business-owner-sentenced-for-fuel-tank-explosion-which-killed-worker/3CJYQW4DGLPRZMO737KNT2BXAY/

  8. Martyn your post is excellent and everyone’s comments above are spot on. I just want to add how emotionally moving the television coverage over the last few days of this tragedy including the comments from the families has been. I cried. They have been so strong standing in solidarity with their loved ones who are stilled entombed in that empty poisonous mine, which will always remain as a symbol of corporate greed – like the callous psychopath who has no emotional attachment to their victims and who justify their own cruelty in the search of toxic gain. The courage of the miners’ families is testament to their strength as individuals, as a group brought together by this tragedy and the strength of the community that supports them.

    How could anyone suggest or say, as Key and his Government did and many others did, that the bodies of those wonderful men should not be recovered – that it was a waste of time and money. Such despicable and hateful comments is testament to the soulless empty characters these people exhibit as so-called humans. Goodness me, I wonder how they regard and treat their own families and their own children with this sort of attitude. Of course, it also asks the question, what do their children think of them? Hopefully nothing.

    I hope and pray that the remains of those good and decent men in the mine can be recovered from that cold dark place and returned to the warmth and security of their own loved ones to whom I pass this message. We as a country stand with you and we grieve with you. Please ignore those who suggest the recovery of your loved ones should not be carried out. Those people are irrelevant. They do not represent us.

  9. The Americans dont muck around when it comes to this sort of thing and rooting out the culprits, – however, – as with Pike River, as was the Upper Big Branch Coal Mine, – both with 29 killed, both owned by the same company , – and BOTH caused by managerial negligence,… except the difference here was we had successive Govts complicit because of the systematic and ongoing de-toothing of unions and the doing away with adequate numbers of Mines Inspectors, – who were embedded / affiliated with the Trade unions.

    YET UNLIKE the American case, – the CEO in charge of Pike River could strike a deal with WorkSafe, pay $1,500,000.00 – and walk away a free man. Free ticket back to Australia. And not a peep made of it.

    So lets do a wee comparison on the state of NZ justice, shall we?

    So,… a man in this country can get away with the manslaughter of 29 men after paying the dosh out to WorkSafe having had broken our labour laws with impunity, threatened his workers and union officials…

    YET ANOTHER MAN who may or may not have broken the USA’ copyright laws, – (which have no jurisdiction and are not applicable in NZ anyway and so is irrelevant to our legal system) , – has his home raided by quasi military type police goons armed with automatics and German Shepperd dogs, has his wife ( who is also pregnant ) and young family taken away and traumatized, he is then thrown in jail without access to a phone to contact his lawyer, – (breaking our basic justice and human rights), – his assets are frozen to deny him funding for his lawyers, – and when the original charges of copyright infringement don’t stick, – has another dozen charges thrown at him,… all as equally spurious as the original one.

    AND ALL THAT DONE on an illegal warrant on the behest of a foreign nation whose laws and jurisdiction have no relevance here !!!

    All I can say New Zealanders, – is don’t you dare fail to indicate while turning left even if it is a lonely country road in the middle of nowhere at 3am or you too might just end up being extradited to stand trial in a kangaroo court with the FBI as your accusers bidding you a lengthy stay courtesy of a stuffy West Virginian jail cell.

    So here we go.

    Specifically note the lack of sophistry regarding excuses listened to or tolerated by the mines investigation team using forensic techniques as a REAL INQUIRY is being conducted as to just WHAT went wrong, WHO REALLY is to blame , and HOW regulations can be tightened up in future.

    UNLIKE the whitewash inquiry we had covering the scumbag political bastards arses who have been found to have been rorting and undermining workers and unions in THIS country for the sake of their rich overseas ‘mates’ for the last 3 decades, – culminating in the deaths of not only 29 men at Pike River,- but in so many other industry’s. And yet the best John Key and his buddies could come up with at one time after Pike River was that worms farms were a high risk industry.

    ‘Worm farms’ my bloody arse.

    The Law Works Special – The Upper Big Branch Coal Mine …
    https://youtu.be/GSE8hucqEz8?t=3

    • ” So,… a man in this country can get away with the manslaughter of 29 men after paying the dosh out to WorkSafe having had broken our labour laws with impunity, threatened his workers and union officials…

      YET ANOTHER MAN who may or may not have broken the USA’ copyright laws, – (which have no jurisdiction and are not applicable in NZ anyway and so is irrelevant to our legal system) , – has his home raided by quasi military type police goons armed with automatics and German Shepperd dogs, has his wife ( who is also pregnant ) and young family taken away and traumatized, he is then thrown in jail without access to a phone to contact his lawyer, – (breaking our basic justice and human rights), – his assets are frozen to deny him funding for his lawyers, – and when the original charges of copyright infringement don’t stick, – has another dozen charges thrown at him,… all as equally spurious as the original one.

      AND ALL THAT DONE on an illegal warrant on the behest of a foreign nation whose laws and jurisdiction have no relevance here !!!
      That pretty much sums up our justice system.
      Well written W.K

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