28 Apr 2014

Forestry families want Govt regulation of the industry

10:20 am on 28 April 2014

Families of forestry workers killed at work are urging the Government to regulate the industry.

Forestry memorial service

Photo: RNZ / Emma Beer

A memorial service with more than 150 family and friends was held on Sunday in Wellington for the 34 men who have died since 2007.

Deborah McMillan, whose husband Shane Frater died on 1 May, 2009, said the industry puts profits before people and needs to be regulated.

She said her husband loved his job, but in the end was killed by an industry that puts profits before people.

"This industry needs to be regulated. We need the Government to step up and help make this happen. These are our men. They deserve better."

In October of 2011, Kenny Callow was killed when a tree fell, crushing him.

His sister, Amie Coker said she doesn't think the industry or the government really understands the impact deaths have on the families involved.

"My brother Ken, has been gone from out lives for 2 and half ayears now. To put it into perspective that is three Christmases, the birth of two nieces, six of his sons' birthday celebration."

Mrs Coker said there is a clear problem within the industry.

"What makes me most angry looking back, is all these accidents were accepted as the norm.

''It horrifies me that in any industry, men or women can be too scared to speak up about their own safety, for fear of repurcussions or the knowledge that nothing would change anyway, so why would you bother".

Mrs Coker believes that is a major factor behind the foresty industry's appaling safety record.

Lesley Kidd's son, Lincoln, was 20 when he died in a tree felling incident near Levin last December.

Mrs Kidd said the tragedy is that her family's story is too common, and all the men, the brothers, the sons, and the fathers were failed by an industry that they loved.

She said the Government needs to sit up and take notice and take responsiblty.

"They need to put the safety back into workplaces. It's not regulating itself, so someone has to do it".

Some of those mourned at the forestry service.

Some of those mourned at the forestry service. Photo: RNZ / Emma Beer

The Council of Trade Unions organised the service. CTU president Helen Kelly said there was no real pressure for change unless these families spoke out.

She said the deaths were all avoidable and the Government needs to take note and regulate the industry.