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Derek Maylor, Chairperson

Last month we commemorated Workers Memorial Day at events around the country and around the world to remember all of the thousands of workers who died because of poor management, business greed and because their safety was not considered to be as important as making the largest possible profit. Part of that day is to fight for the living and we should remember that as we go forward, not least in the forthcoming General Election.

Swathing cuts to services such as Fire and Rescue put us all at risk; in Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service they are facing budget cuts of 24 per cent following the recent confirmation of the Local Government Settlement which shows the central grant is distributed to metropolitan and combined authorities in England. If this is replicated around universally it makes every house, school and workplace in the UK less safe. This is on top of all the previous cuts over the last few years and cannot carry on without devastating consequences.

UNITE have shown that the number of frontline health and safety inspectors has been cut by one quarter under the conservative government just over five years, down to less than a thousand. This lack of enforcement combined with the watering down of workplace health and safety legislation makes it essential that there are not further attacks on the workplace during Brexit. The fear of getting court, of prosecution is an essential driver in health and safety at work.

There is no way around saying it but workers throughout the UK are safer under a Labour Government who gives us more control of our working lives and equal treatment at work. The election is a straight choice between a Labour government that will put working people first or a Conservative government who want everything for themselves.

The Coord will again sift through the latest draft of ISO 45001, international standard for occupational health and safety management, before making comment. As previously mentioned it is back on track for finalising this year and actionable in 2018. Our previous comments emphasised the essential inclusion of worker involvement. There is however talk of such wording being omitted – if so we will make our opinions known and encourage others to do the same.

Gatwick Airport made the news last month for action on health and safety that was not a strike but a coordinated “down tools” under a slogan of Stop. Make a Change”. Along with sites all around the country they took part in action by 3000 companies organised by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association targeting issues like mental health and fatigue; two issues that will resonate with workers in other sectors nationwide. Companies such as Balfour Beatty were often criticised for their safety track record some time ago but their improvements over the last few years on health and safety, their in-house initiatives and their openness is to be commended, as is their lead on this campaign.

As always, and in conclusion; we aim to provide the best advice and representation for our members and to:

*Ensure a safe working environment
*Promote occupational health
*Help members raise safety concerns
*Advance industry best practice
*Provide representation at national meetings
*Raise issues with other safety or government bodies

Our greatest assets are our Union Safety Representatives and we fully support them in their work.

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