The company that won the funding to train health and safety representatives at workplaces on the changes in the new law has been sold to one of New Zealand’s largest PTEs.
In June Safety N Action won the government tender to provide workplace transition training for health and safety representatives. The tender allowed only one winner, giving the company a de facto monopoly. Previously, funding had been shared predominantly among three organisations, the Council of Trade Unions, Business NZ and Impacc.
Last month one of New Zealand’s largest Private Training Enterprise conglomerates, Aspire2, bought Safety N Action.
Aspire2 is owned, via a holding company, by Australian private equity firm Archer Capital, which buys and sells companies. It describes itself as an ‘established market leader in leveraged buyouts’.
In the past it has bought and sold a diverse range of companies such as Rebel Sport, MYOB, John West and Repco.
Aspire2 has three board directors. Its chief executive, Sussan Turner is the former chief executive of Mediaworks and also a ministerial appointee to the board of Auckland University of Technology.
Peter Crossan, the chief financial officer is also former Mediaworks, while board chair Mark Wilson is a private equities specialist from Australia.
TEU president Sandra Grey say there are risks in creating a monopoly by putting health and safety training in the hands of a single private company – especially one that its overseas owner is liable to sell off shortly.
“Workplace health and safety training saves working people’s lives. The public should know that the people doing that training are in it for the long haul, committed to safer workplaces rather than committed to private equity profits.”
Grey questions how Turner can manage the conflict between sitting on the council of a large public university and sitting on the board of PTE that is competing for public funding.
“We hope the decisions she makes are in the best interests of staff, students and aspiring workplace health and safety reps, not an Australian private equities company.”
New Zealand’s shocking workplace health and safety statistics [Infographic] by the team at ThunderMaps