Today, 28th of April, is Worker’s Memorial Day. “We must all take responsibility for better health and safety at work in New Zealand. 100 working people were killed in workplaces in the last year,” said Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff. “It is a sombre reflection that today we also open up many workplaces under COVID-19 level 3, and the health and safety of working people is on everyone’s mind.”
” At midday today, union members across New Zealand and the world, will be taking a minute to light a candle and remember the 100 people killed in workplaces, 100 lives too many.”
“We also turn our minds to the international theme of Worker’s Memorial Day, which is ‘Stop the Pandemic at Work’, timely for the re-opening of many worksites under the cloud of COVID -19. We know that internationally there have been thousands of working people exposed. Hundreds of those working in healthcare around the world have died at work trying to save others.”
“In New Zealand, we are proud that our ‘go hard go early’ lockdown has prevented any workplace exposure deaths from COVID-19. We should be taking the same attitude to all health and safety risks at work. “
“The Council of Trade Unions will today be surveying those who went back to the work site today about whether the ’10 checks for a safe return to work’ have been followed. Alert Level 3 is no return to ‘business as usual’ for health and safety. Let the Level 3 re-opening be the reset button we need to treat every workplace risk with the same level of caution we will for COVID-19 – there is no reason any Kiwi should be killed at work,” Wagstaff said.
The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions has launched an online tool for working Kiwis to identify employers who aren’t doing the right thing during the COVID-19 period.
CTU President Richard Wagstaff said: “We want to ensure that people are able to tell their stories and log what is happening to them. Due to the number and complexity of problems that a significant number of working people are experiencing we need to create a register so that these cases can be triaged and addressed.”
“Where we identify there are systematic breaches of employment law we will be raising these with government.”
“Employment law still needs to be adhered to – employers who breach the law need to be held to account.”
There are 6 main areas we are seeing poor behaviour from employers
- Annual leave/sick leave use
- Use of the “wage subsidy”
- Changing terms and conditions of employment
- Treatment of casual and other precarious working people
- Health and safety/essential services
“We strongly encourage anyone who has not been treated fairly to ensure that they log it with us. Together, we will identify whether there are specific employers and industries which need to be urgently communicated with,” Wagstaff said.
Click here for a full-length HD interview with CTU Secretary Melissa Ansell-Bridges as she explains the initiative and why it’s needed.
Workers’ Memorial Day (April 28th) is a powerful reminder to people in positions of influence and power about their vital role in fostering safe and healthy workplaces, says the Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum.
More than 287 work-related deaths have been reported to WorkSafe since 2010. “But the actual death toll is much higher because that figure doesn’t include deaths from work-related road crashes, occupational illnesses or maritime or aviation deaths,” says Forum Acting Executive Director Frances Martin.
Virginia Pawsey says she still thinks about this day 20-years-ago, as the one that changed everything forever.
Her son, Kit Pawsey was one of 14 people who died when a poorly constructed Department of Conservation viewing platform gave way in the Paparoa National Park on the West Coast. More