Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Why was this a private prosecution?

The CTU has won a private prosecution against an unsafe employer:

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) has won a private prosecution against a Tokoroa forestry company over the death of a worker, after the government safety regulator declined to prosecute.

In 2013, loader driver Charles Finlay was crushed to death by a log while working in the dark.

WorkSafe investigated but said it could not find enough evidence of wrongdoing to prosecute the 45-year-old's employer, M & A Cross Ltd.

But now M & A Cross Ltd has pleaded guilty in the Rotorua District Court to breaches under the Health and Safety Act.

Its great that the CTU have won this case, but at the same time, they should never have had to bring it in the first place. We have a government agency, WorkSafe, which has the specific job of prosecuting dangerous employers. But whether by underfunding or industry capture, they did nothing - a clear failure of the system. And if they won't prosecute a case where someone died, you really have to wonder how many other cases they're refusing to prosecute, and whether their refusal to enforce the law properly is making our workplaces more dangerous.