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CWU Report Health And Safety Success In Virgin Media

Recently appointed health and safety (H&S) reps from across Virgin Media descended en-masse on the CWU's education and training centre in Oxfordshire for a five day course last month - demonstrating the increasingly close liaison between the company and the CWU in the H&S arena.

The 10 new H&S reps - whose appointment has more than doubled the number of union safety reps in the company - underwent a busy schedule of workshops and discussion sessions covering the practicalities, rights and responsibilities of being a union safety rep (USR).

Click to go to CWU main websiteJeff Moffitt, the union's lead health and safety rep in Virgin Media, explained:

"These included the practicalities of how you do risk assessments, the channels of communication when you are working on H&S issues and what you can and can't do in the role - but also a session on how to organise the union in the workplace."

Significantly, Virgin Media's H&S union liaison officer, Richard Dougherty, attended the sessions over a two day period - providing a practical demonstration of the company's willingness to work closely with the union on H&S issues.

"When we set up the course I invited Richard to come down and he accepted straight away - which sends out a great message, especially for the lads doing the course, as it shows that Virgin are involved in this themselves," said Lancashire-based Jeff.

It shows that Virgin Media understands that the job we're doing is for the better of the company as well as employees."

CWU organiser Elaine Taylor explained how Virgin Media's close co-operation with the CWU in the health and safety arena is helping to cut through residual company resistance to the CWU in the ex-NTL parts of the business, as opposed to the ex-Telewest side where the union has been recognised for years.

"The differentiation just doesn't seem to be there in health and safety. Virgin Media has clearly realised that there's a value in our involvement, and the course we've put together is specially tailored for, and designated to, Virgin Media safety reps. It's a great opportunity for our reps to come together and share experiences - and, of course, it's fully endorsed by Virgin.

Prior to the latest course we only had seven trained H&S reps across Virgin Media. That's now been more than doubled, and we're already starting to take names for the next course."

Feedback from the newly trained USRs has been overwhelmingly positive.

"The course provided by the CWU, in conjunction with Virgin Media, was excellent and very informative, and I'm proud to state I now have the skills to perform in my role as an H&S rep," said Chris Leyland of Cheshire. "Having trained H&S reps within the workplace will, I feel, create a safer environment and provide easier access for employees with enquiries."

Thomas Price of Dundee commended the course for encouraging the sharing of knowledge and experience between all those participating, while Martin Coyle of Northern Ireland highlighted the reassurance and support provided to participants that "it is not as difficult as it may seem."

Any member in Virgin Media interested in becoming a H&S rep is encouraged to contact Jeff Moffitt for an informal chat.

Source: CWU HQ Website

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