5 Apr 2013

Unions launch forestry safety campaign

1:58 pm on 5 April 2013

Unions are calling for a government inquiry into worker safety in the forestry sector as they seek to get greater union representation in the industry.

The Council of Trade Unions has launched a billboard campaign to highlight health and safety issues in the forestry sector.

FIRST Union general secretary Robert Reid says the forestry industry has an atrocious safety record with three forestry workers having been killed this year alone.

"We have worked it out that we actually have a 'Pike River' every five to six years. That is, 29 forestry workers died in the last five or six years in New Zealand.

"But because those forestry workers are being killed one by one, there seems to be no public outcry, no government investigation."

Mr Reid says workers are often exhausted and overworked and don't have unions to watch their back or fight on their behalf for safer conditions.

He said New Zealand's forests are certified by international organisations and part of that certification obliges forest owners to facilitiate the role of unions in the industry, which he said is not happening.