Fallen industry members remembered in silent vigil protest

A silent vigil being held to remember people who died in workplace accidents protests against proposed changes to workplace safety law.

The vigil was organised buy Maryanne Butler-Finlay. She is the wife of Chris Finlay, who died at a forestry work site in Taumata Forest, Kinleith.

She put 297 crosses on display, representing the lives that were lost in work industries since the 2010 Pike River coal mine tragedy as well as for all families who lost loved ones to a workplace death.

The vigil was put up as the Health and Safety reform bill makes its way to parliament.

“Fifty or 60 people turned out today…it was probably one of the biggest vigils [the Council Trade Union] has done so far,” she said. “They came to support me and my children, but they were also there because they’d had fatalities in their families in the past.”

One of the crosses is for her husband Chris, who died on July 19, 2013. According to a summary of facts, he died after a log hit his head while he was standing behind a truck that was being loaded. His employer M&A Cross Ltd pleaded guilty to breaches of safety laws, and will be sentenced on October 2nd.

Maryanne added that this is one of the worst experiences that she has had since her the death of her husband. She said that the vigil os to let the government know that they are not happy with the Health and Safety Reform Bill.

The government is currently working on the bill, and will vote next week.

Maryanne said she feared that M&A Cross Ltd wouldn’t have been liable under the  bill that is currently before Parliament. “If they water it down, it’s going to be detrimental to all New Zealanders that are working, especially in small business. It just doesn’t make sense – it doesn’t need to happen,” she said.

The 297 crosses will be moved to Whakatane and Opotiki, to acknowledge families who have lost loved once in workplace incidents.