The EPMU is calling for improved safety protections for underground miners following the mines inspectorate's decision to stop production at Huntly East due to concerns over methane gas build up.
EPMU assistant national secretary Ged O'Connell says that while the mines inspectorate's actions in this case are welcome, another layer of protection is needed.
"We understand the prohibition notice is a precautionary measure at this stage and we welcome the inspectorate's proactive approach. Our first priority is the safety of our members and the inspectorate's willingness to put safety first in this case is reassuring.
"However, New Zealand still has essentially the same mine safety regime as it did before Pike River, and until the Government brings our safety regulations up to international standard New Zealand's underground miners will continue to be put at risk.
"We are calling on the Government to adopt stronger mine safety regulations based on the Queensland model, which is considered the international best practice.
"One of the key elements of the Queensland model is worker-elected check inspectors who ensure underground miners have an independent and trusted safety representative on the job to raise the alarm as soon as potential safety hazards arise.
"As a safety-conscious company we would expect Solid Energy to support these calls."
The EPMU represents nearly every underground miner in New Zealand, including 180 at Huntly East mine.
For more information contact:
Ged O'Connell, EPMU assistant national secretary: 027 532 8152
Neale Jones, EPMU communications director: 027 276 5146