Māori Unionist call on Iwi to support an end workplace deaths

By Mānia Clarke

Māori unionists mark Workers Memorial Day with a call for iwi-unions to work in collaboration with The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) in an effort to end workplace deaths.

A gathering of family members and union workers at Otahuhu's Westfield Railway depot stood for a minute in silence to remember those who have died at work 

Every year over 50 New Zealanders die in work related accidents.  The CTU says many of them are Māori which is why they are reaching out to iwi.

Māori Vice President, Syd Keepa says, "All the treaty settlements so far and particularly when we look at the forestry industry, a percentage of those treaty settlements has been forestry.  So we'd like to start from that quarter because a lot of those deaths in forestry have been our people."

Four years ago Charles Finlay died tragically in a logging accident in Tokoroa. His niece Christina Couling is a CTU Youth Convenor and champion for workers rights and safety. 

"We'll I think it's good to involve actually any body in making sure that people get home safely. It should be Iwi leaders, of course it should be employers," said Couling.

In the last two weeks seven people have died at work.  

"Come in and talk to the government about health and safety," said Keepa.

Next week the bi-annual CTU convention will be held in Hamilton.  Organisers' expect Iwi leaders to attend.