Union pressure to retrieve Pike bodies

MINING unions might boycott the Pike River coal mine in New Zealand unless an unconditional commitment is made to recover the bodies of the 29 men lost in the mining disaster last year.
Union pressure to retrieve Pike bodies Union pressure to retrieve Pike bodies Union pressure to retrieve Pike bodies Union pressure to retrieve Pike bodies Union pressure to retrieve Pike bodies

The PRC tag board with 29 miners who never came back.

Blair Price

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union first called on the New Zealand and Australian governments to ensure such a commitment was made two weeks ago, with two Queenslanders among the victims.

Representatives from the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine & General Workers Unions visited the mine on Saturday.

ICEM officials are prepared to raise an international boycott of the mine unless there is an acceptable recovery plan, according to The Press.

PricewaterhouseCoopers receiver Malcolm Hollis reportedly said that a “best endeavour” condition to retrieve bodies will be included in a sales agreement for the mine.

He added that the potential buyers were well aware of the issues around recovering the bodies according to this report.

However, several unions could put the mine under joint pressure if the bodies are not recovered.

ICEM general secretary Manfred Warda allegedly told 3News that only money was standing in the way of recovering the 29 men.

The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union represents coal miners in New Zealand and has long been concerned that the bodies might not be retrieved from the mine.

EPMU assistant national secretary Ged O’Connell reportedly told The Press that an international boycott of the underground coal mine would leave it “pretty helpless”.

Experts at the mine believe there is a significant roof fall about 2.3 kilometres into the access tunnel, before the ventilation shaft and the mine’s “spaghetti junction” area of intersecting roadways.

The current work at the mine is focused on getting far enough into the tunnel to inspect how serious it is.

“If there is a significant roof fall there then we will need to put a permanent seal at the end of the tunnel,” Pricewaterhouse Coopers partner John Fisk previously told ILN.

He acknowledged such a necessity would make it difficult for the families in terms of any possible body recovery exercise.

A mine rescue team successfully ventured 300 metres into the access tunnel last week using breathing apparatus.

Gas monitoring is expected to be the main focus this week before work starts up on erecting two sets of double steel doors at the entrance, as part of the phased re-entry plan.

The sales process for the mine has been running for months with receivers aiming to bring in new owners from around September/October.

ICEM will keep tabs on what comes out of the Royal Commission hearings starting from July 11.

Warda allegedly told The Press he believed the gas monitoring at the mine before the tragedy was below the standards used for decades in Europe.