Union supports Pike River boycott

The visiting union head has warned that the Pike River inquiry is being closely watched by the worldwide mining community, with concerns about its safety standards.

Last week receivers said they cannot recover the bodies of the 29 men who lay entombed in the New Zealand mine because they can’t afford it.

General Secretary of the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine & General Workers Unions (ICEM), Manfred Warda, said the mining community were shocked by the disaster in New Zealand.

He said the ICEM will be closely monitoring the Royal Commission of Inquiry, due to start on 11 July.

"There have been many questions outside of New Zealand," he told the NZ Perss.

"We are interested in whether there are lessons beyond New Zealand we have to take from this terrible accident."

Warda said he believed it safety standards at Pike River were below standards used for decades in Europe.

He also said the ventilation system was "rather unusual" and deregulation of mining in the 1990s led to the loss of mine inspectors.

Last month a previous Pike River Coal mine worker said the safety concerns at the site were well known prior to the explosions that killed 29 men in November, and in January mining expert David Fecikert said in the tragedy could have been avoided if a mining inspector was employed at the mine.

Warda said ICEM supports the international boycott of the mine unless an acceptable plan to recover the bodies is outlined.

"Mine workers are a special community with a very strong feeling of solidarity.

"You first need to recover the bodies."

Yesterday, Warda and two other ICEM officials met Greymouth Mayor Tony Kokshoorn and family spokesman Bernie Monk.

They also met New Zealand Engineering, Printing & Manufacturing Union (EPMU) officials and visited the West Coast mine.

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