In the wake of the Pike River mining disaster coal miners at Huntly East mine have voted unanimously to demand Solid Energy improves mine safety by immediately instituting a system of worker-elected check inspectors and dropping its opposition to such a scheme being made a legal requirement nationwide.
Worker-elected check inspectors are a key part of Queensland's mining regulations, which are considered the international best practice in mine safety.
The call was made at a recent meeting of 120 Huntly East miners which discussed the continuing suspension of coal production at the mine due to concerns over a potentially dangerous build-up of methane gas.
EPMU said Solid Energy needs to listen to its workforce and back worker-elected check inspectors.
"Solid Energy can't credibly claim it supports lifting New Zealand's sorry mine safety regulations to international standards while it refuses to allow check inspectors and lobbies against law changes to make them compulsory.”
"Our members have spoken clearly. They want a check inspector who's independent of the company, trusted by the workforce and is there underground to raise the alarm at the first sign of trouble.”
"We know from Pike River that mining companies can be conflicted between their desire to increase production and the safety needs of the workforce, and that even with the best will in the world the mines inspectorate can't be there all the time.”
"Solid Energy needs to listen to the men who risk their lives every day underground and put safety first by supporting the full adoption of Queensland-style mine safety regulations, including check inspectors."
The resolution reads:
That this meeting of Huntly Solid Energy miners request our employer to:
Immediately institute a system of worker-elected health & safety check inspectors.
Support changes to mine safety legislation in line with the Queensland model, including worker elected check Inspectors.