New Zealand's Council of Trade Unions applies for permission to prosecute two forestry companies over worker deaths; president says cases were investigated by federal safety agency, but no charges were laid

DUENDIN, New Zealand , April 24, 2014 () – In a rare move, the Council of Trade Unions in New Zealand is taking legal action against two forestry companies over the deaths of workers. A series of coronial inquests was due to begin in May this year into eight recent deaths in the logging industry, but some of those hearings are now on hold to allow for possible court action.

The CTU says there have been 32 forestry deaths since 2008. It wants to prosecute two companies in relation to two cases that WorkSafe investigated but never laid charges over. CTU president Helen Kelly said council has applied for permission to prosecute and it should be granted.

Ona De Roy from WorkSafe New Zealand said she could not comment on why the regulator didn't prosecute. However, she said since the organisation started a campaign on forestry safety in August last year, at least 25 crews have been told to stop work immediately because of concerns.

A lawyer specialising in workplace safety said WorkSafe has been afraid to take risks and needs to take more prosecutions against companies who breach safety legislation.

Source: NZ Newswire

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