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FIRST Forestry Together

Long hours, working in bad weather, pressure to work faster and faster is making forestry work too hard and people are getting tired and making mistakes. Is this happening to you and your workmates?

Now, there is a new group bringing together foresty workers and their families to talk to about safety and conditions of work.

It is free for foresty workers and their families to join. Join anyone up that is interested in making our work better and safer.


What are your rights at work?

Health and Safety

It is a basic right for every worker to work in a safe working environment and be able to return home from work each day safe and well. Every worker in New Zealand has rights guaranteed by law:

* Employers must provide a safe workplace, with proper training, supervision and suitable protective clothing and equipment. This duty includes identifying, assessing and managing hazards, and investigating health and safety incidents.

* You can refuse work if you think it’s likely to cause serious harm.

* You also have the right to participate in improving health and safety - if you request it, or if there are 30 or more workers at your work,  then the employer must have a system to give you the opportunity to get involved in improving health and safety. This formal agreement is called an Employee Participation Agreement (EPA).

Talk to your workmates about electing a health and safety representative – elect someone and let your employer know who that person is.  That person can then attend training – unions offer free health and safety representative training to Forestry workers representatives. Health and Safety representatives can monitor the workplace on your behalf and raise issues for you.  It is also good experience for the rep!   Get in touch with FIRST Union today to talk about how we can help

Other work rights

You are entitled to a written employment agreement (that includes your hours of work and pay), you must be paid at least the minimum wage, and receive 4 weeks paid holidays per year, and 5 days sick and domestic leave. It’s your right to join a union/negotiate a collective agreement.

We think there should be improved employment conditions in Forestry including to improve safety.  Under Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, forest owners, managers and contractors have committed to respecting the right of workers to organise and collectively bargain their wages and conditions with their employers.  They have also agreed to facilitate the role and functioning of unions in the forest sector at all times.

Call FIRST Union if you want more advice or help with any of this – we can meet you any time any place to discuss, we can retain confidentiality.


Visit this page for the latest forestry news from FIRST Union.

See also two major investigations on forest safety by Maori Television's Native Affairs and TV3's 3rd Degree - click on the images below to watch.



Forestry is the most dangerous industry in New Zealand. In 2013 there have already been four deaths. Since 2008, 25 workers have died and almost 900 have been seriously injured.  A New Zealand forestry worker is 6 times more likely to die at work than a UK forestry worker, and twice as likely as an Australian forestry worker.What Killed Ken

The Council of Trade Unions has launched a campaign for better health and safety protections for foresty workers.  Visit to listen to the story by Kens family about his working life (& death), and help share this video through a billboard.

Contact us today

FIRST Union is the union for workers in the wood processing and forest industries.

For advice about how to join FIRST Union, contact our Member Support Centre on 0800 TO FIRST - 0800 863 477.

Or email us here.



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