Pike River

May 23rd, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Michael Dickison in the NZ Herald reports:

The mining disaster being cited by a union boss as an example of an anti-worker culture is “churlish”, says the Prime Minister.

Council of Trade Unions president told the Labour Party Congress yesterday that Pike River had “failed in its fundamental duty to provide a safe workplace” yet was initially protected from scrutiny by the state.

She noted how John Key had sat next to Pike River’s chief executive during the memorial service.

Mr Key said last night that Ms Kelly was being “churlish” – and dangerous, too, considering that a Royal Commission of Inquiry was ongoing.

“For Helen Kelly to make those comments until we know what actually happened in that mine is inappropriate in my view. It’s getting in the way of the royal commission.”

The memorial had been a time for everyone to grieve rather than to apportion blame, Mr Key said.

“That day may well come, depending on the results of the royal commission, but it wasn’t appropriate at the time when we held a memorial service.”

 It was a bizarre rant from Helen Kelly. She seemed upset that Pike River executives were not immediately tarred and feathered and made into national villians.

As the PM says, she doesn’t seem to realise the difference between a time to mourn and a time to find out what happened, and who is to blame.

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30 Responses to “Pike River”

  1. wreck1080 (3,864 comments) says:

    You’d expect to see a grovelling apology from Helen Kelly if she is proven wrong.

    Prejudging the outcome of the inquiry shows she is just a silly woman.

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  2. Nookin (3,264 comments) says:

    Who else was on stage with Key – only management? Was Key responsible for the seating arrangements?
    Is this selective fact finding bordering on dishonesty?

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  3. lastmanstanding (1,278 comments) says:

    Helen Kelly just like her old man was is a 19th Century Commie. Time has moved on but Kelly and her gang are still stuck in the past.

    Still is out of date and out of touch with the majority of citizens. Like the Socialist Party (AKA Labour) she lacks the nous to understand thinking people and plays to the rabble which she is a part.

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  4. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    Helen Kelly comes across as an idiot. My Great-Grandfather mined on the West Coast near Pike River and formed the local union that went on to become part of the Labour core (my family jokes about how I vote to the Right now, and that “Grandad would be rolling in his grave”. Actually, my Great-Grandfather would be rolling is his grave over this person whose intelligence, whose rhetoric and whose presentation is sub-par – and she’s the leader of the CTU. If I was a union member I’d be spewing that she’s my public representative. The word ‘muppet’ is almost getting overused, but she really does strike me a whining muppet.

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  5. GPT1 (2,116 comments) says:

    When you only have a hammer everything looks like a nail. Helen Kelly only has a righteous, fundamental belief in the class struggle so everything, to her, is about the evil employer attacking the noble employee.

    Or to put it another way she is barking mad.

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  6. Mick Mac (1,091 comments) says:

    She is a ideologist and isn’t stupid.
    She can be countered by facts but that will not sway her as her ideology is her religion.
    Anyone earning +100k is a bank for the poor marginalised oppressed.

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  7. tvb (4,319 comments) says:

    Helen Kelly is a deeply political person. Her usefulness to the trade union movement becomes compromised because of this. It seems she has learned nothing from the hobbit fiasco. I bet Helen Kelly is earning more than 100k.

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  8. Sofia (851 comments) says:

    Where, in relation to this, is the Precious Person who drew our attention to Jacob Cohen, a fellow watchdog and the writer of PIKE RIVER MURDER?

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  9. reid (16,199 comments) says:

    Or to put it another way she is barking mad.

    As-in, a fanatic: one who can’t change her mind and won’t change the subject.

    Yep. She sure is. How come unions let people like this take over? When will they learn that if really do give a damn about helping their members, there are other techniques which are less confrontational and much much more productive, at every level. The amount of friction they cause by their attitude which is ubiquitous amongst almost all their officials, is unbelievable, and for what purpose. What does that achieve, apart from counter-productivity?

    It’s not even as if this attitude “keeps employers honest” cause newsflash, actually, it’s the law which does that, not the unions. If you wanted to piss people off so that if an employer was of a mind to be dishonest, they would be encouraged to be, then the attitude they adopt, is it.

    Clearly though, this is part of the union brand, to be tough, valiant and brave in the face of fierce adversity. If unions weren’t around, the law would be changed immediately and almost overnight, workers would find themselves in steam-powered factories working 18 hour days and being killed on a daily basis, with no-one being held to account. That would really happen, if they weren’t there to save their members. Aren’t they terrific.

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  10. Elaycee (4,352 comments) says:

    This is just another example of the lunatic fringe within the Union movement scoring an own goal. Kelly first hit the scoreboard with her terrible handling of the Hobbit fiasco and now she would have us believe that she knows better than the findings of a Royal Commission that has not yet heard the evidence!

    She would be wise to stick to things that she knows something about, such as …… er, …… well, maybe she should just STFU.

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  11. Other_Andy (2,565 comments) says:

    tvb (1,782) Says:

    “I bet Helen Kelly is earning more than 100k.”

    Using the word ‘earning’ loosely here!

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  12. georgebolwing (758 comments) says:

    What I found most interesting about Helen’s speech was how it was couched in almost 19th century, English, class warfare terms, including the follwoing quote form Sidney and Beatrice Webb from over 100 years ago:

    “The capitalist is very fond of declaring that labour is a commodity, and the wage contract a bargain of purchase and sale like any other. But he instinctively expects his wage-earners to render him, not only obedience, but also personal deference. If the wage contract is a bargain of purchase and sale like any other, why is the workman expected to doff his hat to his employer, and to say ‘sir’ to him without reciprocity?”

    Now I don’t know about your workplace, but I don’t see much hat doffing and sir calling going on in New Zealand today.

    Does the head of our union movement really believe that she is at the vanguard of an inevitable struggle between the forces of capital and the forces of labour for the control of industry?

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  13. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    Much more lowly ranked union people are earning over 100 thous. Her salary must be much bigger.

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  14. vto (1,128 comments) says:

    Yep well good on her. She is perfectly entitled to express opinions. And she and others clearly have strong opinions on this disaster.

    You are such a puppet Farrar.

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  15. flipper (3,947 comments) says:

    VTO…..What planet are you on today?.
    Do you really think Kelly is sane?
    Personal opinion, Yes.
    But she was speakinbg on behalf of all trade unions (ergo all their “members”) .
    Not the same thing, VTO.
    Time Kelly folded her tent.

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  16. GazzaW (30 comments) says:

    It became quite clear from Day 2 that the socialists were going to turn the disaster into a political issue. Kelly doesn’t care a jot about the miners’ families, they are just a useful vehicle to spew her rhetoric to the waiting media.

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  17. voice of reason (491 comments) says:

    I dont know if Kelly is an idiot, but she has raised questions which should be asked and will require answers in the fullness of time, however unpalatable.

    Despite the best intentions of the local Pike management I suspect the families of the deceased will be sold short in the end by corporate imperatives and pragmatism.

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  18. reid (16,199 comments) says:

    Does the head of our union movement really believe that she is at the vanguard of an inevitable struggle between the forces of capital and the forces of labour for the control of industry?

    Yes george, she and thousands of others like her, really do think that.

    Isn’t it mental.

    I dont know if Kelly is an idiot…

    Why not? Not enough evidence has yet arisen? I see…

    As to her questions, they were already in the process of being raised and nothing she said alters that in anyway: i.e. the same process that was already in place, continues as it did before, with no change in anyway. So how was it useful?

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  19. voice of reason (491 comments) says:

    This is what Kelly said in her speech.

    “The real story of Pike River is that a group of shareholder from around the world including some very big multi-national companies recognized the huge value of the coal in Pike River and decided to invest in mining it. That’s fine. (AGREED)

    Whether they did this on the cheap and spent insufficient money on safety is a question on everyone’s lips and a matter for the inquiry. (PERHAPS) There are many questions to answer. (MAYBE)

    What we do know however is that only one year after that mine was opened, it exploded leaving 29 dead. Those shareholders regardless of what the findings are from the inquiry, will walk away scott free leaving debt, death and accountability behind them as they move on to the next venture – this model is not charitable. (TRUE, UNFORTUNATELY PRAGMATIC)

    Pike River was not ‘feeding these families’, as depicted by some, it was hiring workers to carry out the mining. A supposedly mutually beneficial exchange.

    But Pike failed in its fundamental duty to provide a safe workplace” (PRESUMPTUOUS and INFLAMMATORY)

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  20. 2boyz (258 comments) says:

    F**ken ‘Rich Pricks’ are everywhere but I guess looking after workers rights makes it different.

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  21. Other_Andy (2,565 comments) says:

    2boyz (124) Says:

    “F**ken ‘Rich Pricks’ are everywhere but I guess looking after workers rights makes it different.”

    You know the mantra….
    Everybody is equal but some are more equal than others.

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  22. KH (694 comments) says:

    Kelly talk is hate speech. I don’t know why unions do it. But they do.
    Locally there is a union sponsored memorial to those who die in the workplace.
    Doesn’t mention those small business owners who suicide.
    Or the farmers who take the shotgun down to the shed and blow their own heads off.

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  23. Viking2 (11,348 comments) says:

    Further Pike River as a company is basically going to be liquidated so aside from the companies natural creditors there is a legacy that will be handed to the taxpayers of NZ who have no recourse to the shareholders disaster fund.
    Now this is not peculiar to Pike River but it does pose some questions about the tax payers longterm liability towards these things. After all we could ask what would happen if say a foreign owned airplane hit the bricks in the middle of one of our cities. Who foots the bill and why?

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  24. big bruv (13,686 comments) says:

    Helen Kelly is an evil cow who is quite happy to see film industry workers lose their jobs, or, to politicize a tragedy to further her own career and that of the parasitic union movement

    That said, I am starting to lose patience with everybody connected with the Pike River tragedy, we (the tax payer) have spent millions trying to get the bodies out of the mine yet day after day we hear calls from Bernie Monk or the cockroach Helen Kelly demanding more money to be spent (always other peoples money) and more life’s to be put in danger by going into the mine to retrieve the bodies.

    It is of course a tragedy that the men lost their lives, however they are not going anywhere and we simply cannot afford to keep spending millions of our precious tax dollars in a futile attempt to get the bodies out.
    Perhaps somebody should mention to Bernie Monk that they might like to spend some of their own money in an effort to retrieve the bodies, after all, the people of NZ were extremely generous to the surviving relatives and from what I can remember they are not short of a dollar or two of their own now.

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  25. vto (1,128 comments) says:

    voice of reason is onto it.

    and my 2c says that this company was a one-off public listing with no mining culture embedded into it. It was just a bunch of shareholders getting together and saying ‘lets just get this coal out and sell it.’ This company had no history, no culture, no experience. It just gathered a few disconnected people and had a crack.

    It also never had enough money. How many times did it go back to the sharehodlers and the public to ask for more money? And what did it get spent on? Proving the resource that’s what. Not proving its mining capacity – or rather, not nearly enough proving it could be mined properly.

    That is why it had so many problems.. Remember all the setbacks it suffered? And blamed on “extra hard” rock that it had not foreseen? Not foreseen? See people? Such should not have been unforeseen.. It should have had a shitload more holes drilled to prove its mineability.

    So you know what they did instead? Do you? Have you followed it from day dot? Or are you just another tag-on at the end of the story? What they did instead was make it up as they went in………

    The mine was developed as it went, rather than being fully examined before it was undertaken. Herein lies the main blame.

    There is some shocking bullshit in this event. And the finger points directly at the company and its promoters. And it points at the recently weakened mining safety regulations.

    There are people to blame here. And I hope like hell they get them. There are many eyes a-watching. Meantime the nats can kiss goodbye to its recent electoral success in that neck of the woods.

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  26. Henry64 (83 comments) says:

    vto, you don’t know what you are talking about when you say “The mine was developed as it went, rather than being fully examined before it was undertaken. Herein lies the main blame.” You are the one spewing some “shocking bullshit”.

    I work for a Christchurch based engineering company that consulted on certain aspects of the Pike River Coal Mine, along with many other companies from around the country to help develop a mine that met with all aspects required under the consenting process.

    I can’t comment specifically about all aspects of the mine’s development but no investigative process is 100% foolproof but it seems to me that the mine developers and owners did everything possible to get the mine potential checked out thoroughly and all aspects of the consent complied with before they started mining coal.

    The Royal Commission will be the place for findings of what caused this disaster, not ignorant finger pointing after the fact ‘experts’. The mine company proceeded on the information they had, hindsight’s a wonderful thing and it’s easy to be wise after the fact but I’m not prejudging anything as all the information is being provided to the hearing, along with that from my own company to enable the Commission to do its job.

    As for the nats kissing goodbye to electoral success on the coast, let’s wait and see.

    Maybe people will feel that Labour is at fault, after all they were in government when the mine was consented, not National. An open cast mine would not have killed those 29 men, Labour and the Greens surely did, according to Helen Kelly’s and your particular logic.

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  27. vto (1,128 comments) says:

    Well good for you henry64, I too have been involved with the mining sector. Since the early 80’s. I have also been involved with the launch of companies such as this. Your view is wrong.

    The Royal Commission you think will be reliable? When such things as the DOL refusing to hand over documentation regarding the implementation of this mine? When PRC’s solicitors demand to be part of their employee’s evidential process? When Royal Commissions and other government-appointed bodies have such a great proven record in uncovering the truth?

    And we should all shut up until it has done its job? Well you go bow down to your masters if you like, but last time I looked there was no such requirement on the part of the public, or pretty much anyone actually. I and others will keep making as much noise as possible. Authority is not to be trusted. Have you not learned that yet?

    As for the development of the mine – it was developed as it went. You may have been involved in one minor consulting part but that makes you not an expert – just one engineer. I have pointed out some facts above – the lack of mining history and culture in the company (have any idea what that is about in the mining sector?) due to it being a one-off public listing, the constant lack of enough money (did you even know that?), and the lack of holes drilled to prove the mineability before mining started. Combined with my own substantial experience in the industry and living on the coast, that is my firmly held opinion. This mine was simply not done properly. Simple.

    It may “seem” to you that “the mine developers and owners did everything possible” but you have no idea on that particular matter do you. It is just a guess. Based on being an out-of-town consultant engineer with no mining experience.

    I stand by my claim above.

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  28. voice of reason (491 comments) says:

    Big Bruv – I agree that too many Tax dollars have been spent so far , however little of that has benefitted the families.
    Kelly isn’t asking for more tax dollars, she is raising the point that the Shareholders should be the ones fronting with the cash, instead of liquidating the company & their responsiibilities . Not to forgetting the 8 mill owed to 80 unsecured contractors.

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  29. talanoa (1 comment) says:

    As a parent of one of the Pike deceased, i watch and read with interest, the various comments and positions over this event.
    It is no secret to those IN the mining industry that this mine was a dog from day 1
    Our boys went down that mine in good faith, in the understanding that all measures were being undertaken to keep them as safe is as possible in any coalmine internationally.
    It wasnt long before the rumblings started over safety levels, safety practice, and the ever present gas issues.
    The need to profit was overwhelming for management and it is probable that shortcuts were made and didgy practices WERE happening on a daily basis…complain and be fired was a common belief.
    This mine was flawed from the consenting process forward and was doomed to fail.
    why wasnt an entry mounted on day one?? only those who know can answer, but what i do know is there were systematic faults in the recovery (or lack of) and the following “opinions” offered” by the “experts”
    It is important to know who these experts were on the ground…police, fire and pike management.
    By the time some real experts arrived it was all over.
    It is clear to this writer that there was never a desire to recover, and even less right now.
    Is this because of fears that evidence will be found? or the police botched it? Or worse?
    Big cop, garry knowles stated that this was “the biggest homicide investigation in NZ history”
    Im no detective, but i would have thought that the crimescene would be examined to the enth degree, and given the dead are in the mine, surely access to these bodies and the evidence surrounding them would be paramount.
    I ask..if your son was down that mine, would you still say “enough has been spent”

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  30. blondewithaniq (22 comments) says:

    Still stand by this David?

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