Government sets out to undermine workplace safety

The Government’s announcement of a roadshow consultation on work health and safety is a smokescreen for its plan to throw out regulations which keep workers safe.

“More workers are going to die as a result of this move - it’s that simple,” says Teanau Tuiono, the Green Party’s workplace relations and safety spokesperson.

“The Government’s decision to cut funding to the tune of $10 million from an already under-staffed Worksafe NZ was the entree. The main course will be sweeping cuts to regulations designed to ensure workplaces are safe.

“The Government says it's cutting back on red tape but it’s really cutting back on workers' rights that have been fought for over generations. It’s all ‘she’ll be right’ until a petrol station is blown up because some gas canisters are improperly stored, due to regulations and safety standards slipping. 

“Everyone deserves to work in an environment where their safety is respected and their rights are protected. Workers are the backbone of our economy and deserve so much better than a Government that simply doesn’t care. 

“We need to properly resource the labour inspectorate as well as Worksafe to ensure we have robust health and safety practices.

“The sobering reality is that every 15 minutes someone gets seriously injured in a workplace incident. Up to 17 people die each week from health problems related to their work. This is costing our economy over $4 billion a year. 

“In New Zealand, almost three times more people die at work than in the United Kingdom. Similarly, our rate of serious injury in the workplace is 20 per cent higher than in Australia. This Government’s anti-worker agenda will see us slip even further behind. 

“Statistics also show that Māori and Pasifika are much more likely to die or be injured at their workplace, so once again these communities will be disproportionately affected by this reckless regime. 

“We must stand up for what is right. The safety of working people must be protected,” says Teanau Tuiono. 

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