New Zealand: NZCTU backs call for safety as an ILO ‘fundamental right at work’

Tuesday, 27 April 2021, 3:27 pm
Press Release: Council of Trade Unions


On April 28th, Workers’ Memorial Day, working people all around the world remember those killed at work.

CTU President Richard Wagstaff wants to see more done to ensure that everyone is able to return home safe and well at the end of their working day. “The facts clearly speak for themselves, too many working Kiwis are being killed at work. We must do more to hold employers to account. Workplace deaths are always avoidable and preventable. Employers who fail to keep working people safe should face serious consequences.”

“From May 2020 – January 2021 37 people were killed at work. 37 people went to work and never returned home. The most dangerous industries are agriculture (8), construction (4) and forestry (4). Employers in these industries need to really examine what they are doing wrong, why their business models are so problematic that people are being killed just by doing their jobs.”

“As well as the 37 people who were killed at work, more than 33,000 New Zealanders have been so seriously injured at work in the last year that they have needed more than a week off work. 33,000 is more people than the entire population of Timaru, we clearly have urgent work to do to ensure people are safe at work.”

“Another huge health and safety issue is occupational deaths. Between 750-900 New Zealanders died in the last year as a direct result of work. Many of these deaths are from long term exposure at work to things like asbestos, silica, and other chemicals/substances which has resulted in death.”

“The problems are clear. The solutions include employers needing to do more to enable working people to speak out. Working people need to demand safe and healthy workplaces and to feel empowered and freely able to speak up when they see things at work which are unsafe.”

“The CTU is a member of the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) and we support their campaign calling on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to adopt occupational health and safety as a fundamental right at work,” Wagstaff said.