Press Release – Rail And Maritime Transport Union
Events around the country and the launch of a book on rail safety will mark Workers Memorial Day this year. Rail and port workers hold events to mark Workers Memorial Day every year, and this year the memorial service at KiwiRail’s Lower Hutt workshops will also feature the launch of a new book by Hazel Armstrong: Your life for the job: New Zealand rail safety 1974 – 2000
The book documents the spate of fatalities that lead up to the 2000 Tranz Rail inquiry, and concludes that the appalling rate of death and injury on New Zealand’s railways in the 1990s was ‘the story of de-regulation and privatisation.’
Workplace accidents are absolutely preventable, Wayne Butson said.
“No loss of life at work is ever acceptable. Workers Memorial Day is a time to recommit to fighting for the best possible health and safety standards so that workers return home safely each night to their loved ones.
“This requires the commitment of workers and employers to change our attitudes and behaviours, and to speak out if we see an unsafe act or bad systems.”
27 RMTU rail and port members had been killed at work since 1994, he said.
“It is no accident that NZ workers are 6 times more likely to be injured or killed at work than UK workers or 2 times in the case of Australian workers. It is the direct result of ineffectual regulation and a dogged obsession by our legislators for light handed co-regulatory safety models.”
Workers’ Memorial Day was first observed in 1989 in Canada, and now on April 28 each year hundreds of communities and worksites around the world honour those who have died or been injured at work.
Details of other RMTU events are below. Further events are being held around the country, notably the Council of Trade Unions memorial service for forestry workers in Auckland, which rail workers in Auckland will be attending (see below)
All events are on Sunday 28 April, except Port of Napier (on Friday) and Tauranga (Monday)
Auckland – rail workers will be taking part in the Council of Trade Union’s memorial service for the families of forestry workers who have died. 12 noon, Maritime Club, 68 Anzac Avenue, Auckland. More details are here: http://union.org.nz/WorkersMemorialDay2013
Hamilton – remembrance service at the memorial garden commencing 12 noon, within Te Rapa KiwiRail depot.
Tauranga/Mount Maunganui – Memorial Service at 11.30am on Monday 29 April, at the memorial stone by the Rata Street gatehouse
Port Napier –a ceremony was held at the memorial wall at the eastern entrance to the port at 10am this morning (Friday 26 April).
Lower Hutt – service starts 11.50am, Kiwirail Hutt workshops, Elizabeth Street, Moera. Held in the workshop memorial garden. Hazel Armstrong’s book will be launched at this event, as well as an unveiling of a relocated memorial to Wellington shunter Jack Neha.
Christchurch – service 11.30am – 12.30pm, held in the Reserve behind where Science Alive building used to be, at 392 Moorhouse Avenue.
Dunedin – service at the memorial garden (corner Princes and Manor Place) commences 11.50am.