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Pike River families have protected working people once again

The Council of Trade Unions today congratulated Sonya Rockhouse and Anna Osborne on their persistence and courage in the face of years of delayed justice by WorkSafe NZ and Peter Whittall over the deaths of Sonya’s son Ben and Anna’s husband Milton in Pike River Mine. CTU President Richard Wagstaff said that the decision delivered by the Supreme Court today in favour of Anna and Sonya means other families are protected from dangerous employers buying their way out of prosecution.

“To put this decision in context, one of New Zealand’s largest government departments has been found to have acted illegally in not pursuing health and safety charges they had good evidence for, in return for money that was already due to these families as compensation. While Mr Whittall may have escaped a robust court process because of this despicable deal he struck with WorkSafe (then the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment), today’s ruling means this will never happen in New Zealand again.”

“This monumental decision simply proves what Anna and Sonya and the other Pike families have known all along. It shouldn’t matter whether you are rich, if you put the lives and safety of workers after your own profit, you can be held accountable for your crimes,” he said. “The Council of Trade Unions, led by Helen Kelly, decided to support these families through the court process as a matter of principle, and to protect other working people from cash-for-indemnity deals. I know Helen would be extremely proud of Anna and Sonya and their legal teams for pursuing justice to the Supreme Court and winning for Ben, Milton and all the Pike twenty nine.”