24 May 2013

Union confident inspectors will be back at mines

1:30 pm on 24 May 2013

The miners union says all indications are that check inspectors will be returned to mines, possibly as soon as early next year.

The inspectors were done away with by a law change in 1992.

However, the Pike River Royal Commission into the disaster at the West Coast mine in which 29 workers died following explosions in 2010 recommended their reinstatement.

A government discussion document released on Thursday proposes that check inspectors be re-introduced to mines to inspect and shut down operations if there is immediate danger to workers.

Ged O'Connell, the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union's assistant national secretary, says he is only getting positive signs about the return of inspectors.

"From all the assurances we've been given by officials up as far as the Prime Minister who have stated that Pike recommendations will be implemented in full.

"The work that's been going on for the six months to do so includes check inspectors, so we're very confident they'll be put into the legislation and regulations."

Mr O'Connell wants the Government to stump up about a third of the $150,000-a-year salary it would take to employ a check inspector of the right calibre.

He says it would be legitimate expenditure for the Government, but no formal requests for funding have yet been put forward.