The Maritime Union has welcomed comments from the Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff and Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety, Michael Wood, that they expect major changes at the Ports when the new Auckland Council-commissioned safety report is released.
Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison says the report will put the spotlight on bad practices that had been encouraged.
He says the Union is expecting a prompt public release of the recently completed report into health and safety at Ports of Auckland.
“The Union would have serious concerns if the report is delayed by POAL using legal tactics.”
The Maritime Union represents workers at the Ports of Auckland.
This week Mr Wood told media workplace deaths at Ports of Auckland were “unacceptable” and Mr Goff told media better monitoring and enforcement of health and safety was needed.
Mr Harrison says the ports safety issues are systemic and had been an ongoing concern, and the Auckland Branch of Maritime Union had on numerous occasions raised health and safety concerns with port management.
He says one major issue identified was how “productivity” measures – bonus payments for speed ups – was in contradiction to a working environment where safety came first.
In August 2020, stevedore Pala’amo (Amo) Kalati was killed in a workplace accident at the Ports of Auckland – less than two weeks after the company admitted a health and safety charge at the Auckland District Court following the death of 23-year-old Laboom Midnight Dyer two years earlier in a straddle accident.
Mr Harrison says senior managers and board members need to be held individually accountable for recklessness under current laws.
Managers who created unsafe work environments were not being held accountable, he says.
“Until those managers who have a duty of care to their workforce are prosecuted for recklessness under the Health and Safety at Work Act, we will continue to see a culture of profit before safety.”
Mr Harrison says the Union would like to see a wider inquiry into health and safety in all New Zealand ports, stronger enforcement of existing rules, and the development of national standards that are enforceable and protect working New Zealanders.
There had been ongoing deaths and injuries in the industry, with another recent sentencing in January 2021 of stevedoring company ISO Limited for the death of a young women worker in Gisborne in 2018.
Shannon Brooke Rangihuna-Kemp, 29, died from crush injuries after she was hit by a log that fell from a trailer load she was about to scan in a “tally lane” on 8 October 2018.
ISO Limited were convicted and ordered to undertake significant health and safety improvements.