Red Alert

Posts Tagged ‘Pike River Mine’

A hard day

Posted by on November 5th, 2012

Our thoughts are with the families of the 29 men killed at Pike River Mine two years ago as the Royal Commission of Inquiry delivers its report.

Is Kate Wilkinson’s job on the line?

Posted by on July 19th, 2011

If not, it should be.

Read this story today on the Commission of inquiry into the Pike River Mine tragedy and you will understand why.

This isn’t new evidence.  There have been questions asked of the Minister, both in the House and in Select Committee about the Minister’s rejection of the 2009 recommendations. Both Damien O’Connor and I have tabled letters from her or her department specifically rejecting a regulatory change to introduce check inspectors, and an improved code of practice for employee participation in the mining sector.

The Minister told the Transport & Industrial Relations Select Committee just a couple of weeks ago that one of the recommendations she did take up was improving employee participation in mining health and safety. Yet her department confirmed that two and a half years later, they have yet to begin any work on this.  And this is at the same time, the budget for training workplace health and safety representatives has been slashed.

We also asked the Minister asked about the number of mining inspectors. Turns out there are two; one based in Dunedin, and one based in Westport, and they cover the South Island between them, as well as North Island mines.

I’m not demanding perfection here. Mistakes were made. But the thing to do is own up and ensure they never happen again.

Not our Kate. The Minister is now hiding behind the Commission of Inquiry to refuse to answer direct questions in the House.

That’s not good enough.  If the Minister isn’t prepared to do her job, she should resign and let someone else do it who will put the safety of miners first.


Posted by on December 17th, 2010

The prize for the stingy employer of the week goes to Silver Fern Meatworks, who docked workers’ pay for observing two minutes silence, along with the rest of New Zealand, to pay their respects to the 29 miners who lost their lives in Pike River Mine.

It’s made us famous in Australian newspapers, as news spreads that slaughter chain workers at Te Aroha’s Silver Fern meatworks (which burned down shortly after) were docked between 98 cents and $1.60 each – saving the company at most $500.

Even the farmers are crying foul, with Otorohanga dry stock farmer and Silver Fern shareholder Andre de Haan, the immediate past chairman of Waikato Federated Farmers’ meat and fibre section, calling the decision “a load of crap”.

Someone else should be worried about the reputation of the company – and that’s the Minister of Agriculture, David Carter is who is a shareholder of Silver Fern Farms.

Mr de Haan’s says he doubted shareholders would support management’s decision to dock workers’ pay.

“I would have thought everyone would stand behind any gesture towards people that are in trouble like that.”

Does shareholder David Carter agree?

Come on Mr Carter – say something – anything.

Australian workers raising money for Pike River families

Posted by on December 3rd, 2010

A show of solidarity from acrosss the ditch. The Australian Workers Union (AWU) represents the miners at Beaconsfield in Tasmania where there was another mining accident several years ago.

Good on them

Just one of many acts of kindness being shown around our country and the globe on this.

AWU members donating to support New Zealand Pike River Families

03 December 2010

The tragic deaths at New Zealand’s Pike River mine has affected many Australian Workers’ Union members who have contacted the national office asking if they can donate money to support the families left behind.

australia and new zealand350 4ce64ff9965e3 [australia and new zealand350 4ce64ff9965e3.jpg]Already AWU members in Tasmania have donated more than $1000 to our New Zealand sister union’s EPMU Pike River Miners Families Support Trust.

AWU members who want to support the donation drive can send cheques made out  to: “ EPMU Pike River Families Support Trust” care of the EPMU, PO Box 14-277, Kilbirnie, Wellington, 6241, New Zealand.

We must ask the hard questions

Posted by on November 28th, 2010

John Armstrong’s piece in yesterday’s Herald got it wrong.

He inferred that most politicians raising questions and exploring the reasons for the explosions at Pike River will be tainted with “exploiting the catastrophe for selfish political motives”.

John by writing that you do two things:

1. You perpetuate the view that politics is somehow “dirty” and “bad”. Is that what you really think?

2. You are undermining the questioner and the questions. That means it will be much harder to get to the truth. Is that really your intention?

Instead, asking the hard questions and seeking answers to them is what we would expect and what we require from our politicians. And from our media. Surely!

29 men died. Their families want answers. Their community wants answers. Politicians were elected to ask questions.

Armstrong appears to be framing the Pike River aftermath so that from the Opposition Benches only Jim Anderton has credibility in asking the hard questions about what went wrong.

I’m happy that Jim will be doing it.

But according to Armstrong, Labour can’t because we’ll be cynically exploiting the catastrophe for the wrong reasons, or showing desperation. What rubbish!

The union movement can’t because they (according to Armstrong) want payback “for the humiliation the Combined Trade Unions incurred over The Hobbit”. More rubbish!

Not sure what he thinks about the Greens asking questions.

On day one of the Pike River explosion I raised on Twitter the importance of hard questions being asked of the company responsible for Pike River Mine. I raised the issue of the Beaconsfield Mine collapse in Tasmania and the important role played by the (AWU) union in bringing health and safety issues to the fore.

And I encouraged the media to ask the tough questions. They are the ones who are placed to ask them. And not be put off by cries of insensitivity. Or inappropriateness. Let’s hope they do.

Fran O’Sullivan, also writing yesterday in the Herald,  believes that the hard questions need to be asked and the vested interests of everyone taken into account. I agree.

My vested interest is to determine why this disaster happened, make sure it doesn’t happen again and bring some accountability. It’s the truth that matters here. All questions are important, even if they are scoffed at by some.

Politicians, no matter what side of politics they are on must ask the hard questions. Otherwise, they’re not doing their jobs.

Damien, Rick and Phil

Posted by on November 28th, 2010

I know there’s a bunch of MPs who’ve spent time at Pike River over the last week and a bit. All of them, from across the political spectrum, have done their best to contribute in whatever way they could to the immense tragedy. This post applies to all of them.

I just want to acknowledge three colleagues; Damien O’Connor who dropped everything and headed to Greymouth on the Friday evening of the mine accident. The West Coast is his patch. And I can’t imagine what the last week has been like for him.

And Rick Barker. We spent last Saturday together in Mana during the by-election. I know his mind and heart was on the West Coast and he headed there the next day. Rick grew up on the Coast.

And of course Phil Goff. He’s been there as much as could be this week. To be honest nothing else really mattered.

They are among the ones who’ve seen first hand the effect this tragedy has had on the people affected. Think they need support too.

The desire to do something

Posted by on November 25th, 2010

I know we all feel helpless and distressed right now about the Pike River mining tragedy. The natural human response is to want to “do something”  to help.

Here’s something we can do.

The Labour Party was born in the mines on the West Coast. Our hearts are with the miners families.

You can donate to the them by going to the Labour Party website or by clicking directly here

PS: The givealittle website  goes to the Grey District Mayoral Fund so that the public can offer financial support to the families directly affected. (added: Nothing to do with the Labour Party)

 People can also donate by going into their local ANZ or National Bank branch, or via internet banking.The account number: 01 1841 0052483 00

Update from Pike River #2

Posted by on November 21st, 2010

Pictures just in from the Pike River Mine news conference in Greymouth attended by dozens of media from all around NZ and the world. High interest. Pressure mounting given the rescue cannot yet get underway.

Effort being put into supporting the families and continuing to analyse the air quality in the mine to assess when is the safe time to send rescuers in.

Pictures supplied by Labour’s Damien O’Connor who has been there since Friday night. Labour Leader Phil Goff (pictured in foreground) arrived this morning.

  • Twitter feed can be accessed at (#pikeriver). Updates are coming thick and fast.
  • NZHerald has useful updates here
  • Stuff Wesbite here
  • TV3 streamed the media conference live (I watched it online) They are providing updates here
  • TVNZ which now (finally) has live feeds is here

Happy to supply other media links if you want to send them to me

Pike river1

pike river3

Updates on Pike River Mine

Posted by on November 19th, 2010

Our thoughts and hearts are with the (29) unaccounted for miners at Pike River. And their families. The community will be in shock.

Phil Goff has just made a public statement.

He says:

We know the Govt and emergency services will do everything humanly possible to rescue those caught up in this disaster. We hope and pray the miners can be reached and recovered as soon as possible.

Damien O’Connor is at the mine site.

It’s times like these that the spotlight comes on the ability of our media to respond quickly to report a crisis.

My advice is to go sign up to Twitter. It’s easy. Once you’re there do a search on #pikeriver and you’ll get plenty of updates. Click follow on the people and news media organisations who seem the most onto it.

GreerMcDonald from Fairfax is the tireless social media journo. She works long hours and does constant live updates.

dchengnzh (AKA Derek Cheng) from the NZ Herald is also doing live updates.

I understand Sky News is covering. TV3 had a live feed by about 9.30pm (approx). TVNZ still doesn’t. Not good enough.

There is considerable international media interest. CNN, NY Times, Al Jazeera TV have run stories.

Also go to facebook and join this group (Update: At 11pm when I posted this more than 1400 people have now signed up to this page. Within half an hour another 500 had joined)

Further update: TV3 has a dedicated page to Pike River