Forestry fam­i­lies want more safety reg­u­la­tion

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

More than 100 fam­ily mem­bers of forestry work­ers killed on the job at­tended a me­mo­rial ser­vice held in Welling­ton to mark Sun­day’s in­ter­na­tional day of re­mem­brance. The griev­ing fam­i­lies of forestry work­ers who have died while work­ing say the time has come to reg­u­late an in­dus­try they be­lieve is con­trolled by greedy for­est own­ers who push their con- trac­tors too hard, ul­ti­mately risk­ing work­ers’ lives.

The fam­i­lies marched for those killed at work and lob­bied Par­lia­ment on Mon­day, call­ing for bet­ter reg­u­la­tions in an in­dus­try that claimed 11 work­ers from a work­force of about 6500 last year.

Over­all, 51 people died do­ing their jobs, mak­ing forestry the coun­try’s most deadly in­dus­try.

‘‘It’s a dereg­u­lated and dan­ger­ous in­dus­try by de­sign with nine or 10 big for­est own­ers con­tract­ing 300 com­pa­nies, who are squeez­ing the work­ers too hard,’’ Coun­cil of Trade Unions pres­i­dent He­len Kelly said.

Forestry widow Maryanne But­ler-Fin­lay said the death of her hus­band, Charles Fin­lay, had shat­tered her Toko­roa fam­ily.

Fin­lay was the fa­ther of twin daugh­ters Shelby and Sharne­ica and their 45- year- old fa­ther’s death has again been painfully high­lighted – their older brother Charles will miss his fa­ther sorely with the pass­ing of two bit­ter­sweet mile­stones: his re­cent 21st birth­day cel­e­bra­tions and the an­nounce­ment that he is to be en­gaged.

‘‘We’re a bro­ken fam­ily. He was health and safety con­scious – you don’t just go to work and die,’’ But­ler-Fin­lay said.

Fin­lay was struck in the back of the head by a 55 kilo­gram splint of wood, which had shot through the air. His was the sixth forestry fa­tal­ity of 2013 and the 28th since 2008. The in­dus­try has now seen 32 deaths since 2008.

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