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Blood Money

Socialist Courier previously reported on a mining company’s criminal neglect of safety that caused the lives of 29 workers in New Zealand, here and here .

The NZ prime minister at the time hit out at the mining company, saying it "completely and utterly failed to protect its workers"

The company was found guilty of 9 charges of health and safety breaches.  Its former chief executive Peter Whittall was also charged with 12 counts of violating labour laws following the blast. Government lawyers say they would now be dropping the charges against the CEO in exchange for a payment of 3.41 million New Zealand dollars (about £1.72m), made on behalf of company officials to victims’ families.

Anna Osborne, whose husband Milton died in the explosion, said that she has lost faith in the justice system. “It is just another slap in the face for the families,” she said, adding that “as far as I’m concerned, it’s blood money”.


The Price of Profit

Yesterday was Workers Memorial Day when we highlight the bloody toll capitalism inflicts upon us.
In New Zealand a coal mining company, Pike River Coal, was found guilty of nine health and safety violations over a 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners.
A government investigation found the company ignored 21 warnings that methane gas had accumulated to explosive levels in the mine and it was exposing miners to unacceptable risks as it strove to meet financial targets. Each of the charges comes with a maximum penalty of 250,000 New Zealand dollars ($211,000). But since the company is bankrupt, just who will pay the penalty?

Former chief executive Peter Whittall has pleaded not guilty to 12 charges. His case has yet to be heard.

Workers safety?

The father of a Fife miner who was killed at a mine in New Zealand said he was "disappointed and angry" to hear the gas blast was preventable.

Scots Malcolm Campbell, 25, from St Andrews in Fife, and Pete Rodger, 40, from Perthshire, were among 29 workers killed at the Pike River mine in 2010. The miners' bodies remain in the mine

An investigation has found multiple warnings were ignored. Safety systems at the mine were inadequate, and reports of excessive methane levels were "not heeded". Workers were exposed to "unacceptable risks" because health and safety was not adequately addressed in a drive to achieve production created the circumstances for the tragedy, the report found. "In the last 48 days before the explosion there were 21 reports of methane levels reaching explosive volumes, and 27 reports of lesser, but potentially dangerous, volumes," the report said. "The reports of excess methane continued up to the very morning of the t…

Nothing new in New Zealand

New Zealand today has one of the worst rates of income inequality compared with other developed or wealthy countries. Two-income families are increasingly worse off than single-income families were a generation ago.

Inequality has increased here faster than in any other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country. Most of the increase has been the result of larger rises in overall incomes for the top 20 per cent of income earners; and incomes for the bottom 20 per cent have decreased over the two decades from the mid-1980s. To make things worse, wealth is even more unevenly distributed than income and the level of wealth inequality is twice that of income inequality.

The most recent statistics available show wealth inequalities have increased to the extent that the top 10% of the population accounts for 51.8% of the country's net worth, while the bottom 50% of people owns just 5.2%

Over 500,000 people live in households with "negative wealth" - t…