Pike River legal bill claims a ploy - union

2:07 pm on 7 April 2011

The union representing mine workers says a poverty plea by the receivers for Pike River Coal was a ploy designed to win a handout.

The receivers' claim that the company couldn't afford to participate fully in the Royal Commission on last year's mine disaster has been rejected by the Prime Minister.

The secretary of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, Andrew Little, says the claim looks like an attempt to win more money from the Government or insurers.

He says the same thing happened when doubts were raised about funding available for a body recovery operation at the mine.

Mr Little says the receivers should have put aside enough money for involvement in the inquiry when they were appointed.

Prime Minister John Key said on Wednesday the receivers have enough money and expects the company to take full part in the Royal Commission hearing which begins on 23 May.

Laurie Drew, whose son Zen died in the mine, says it's rude for the company to plead poverty when families are having to give up work to attend inquiry hearings.

A spokesperson for the families, Bernie Monk, says the Commission will explore the future of mining within New Zealand and the receivers for the company must be part of the process.

Mr Monk says if extra money is needed, it should come from Pike River's major shareholders.

He says relatives met with the receivers on Wednesday night to express their frustration.

Twenty-nine mine workers and contractors died following explosions at the West Coast mine near Greymouth which began on 19 November last year.

Pike River Coal Ltd went into receivership in December, which is being handled by PricewaterhouseCoopers.