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Is This The End For CWU Union Safety Reps In The Post Office?

CWU Union Safety Reps abolished in agreement with the employer - clarification needed!

A new agreement made by the CWU Post Office negotiators could mean the end of Union Safety Reps in the Post Office and the compromising of the Safety Reps and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 altogether.

Pic: CEF Agreement - click to downloadThe new Collective Engagement Framework (CEF) will “provide continuity and stability” for our members across the Post Office, according to CWU assistant secretary Andy Furey, who led the negotiations on behalf of the union, reports CWU news

"Going forward, the reps will have extra duties, taking on health, safety and wellbeing responsibilities on top of their IR roles, but with a firm commitment that they will undergo the appropriate, training to ensure they are fully equipped with the necessary skills and confidence to perform the role."

Worse still is the contempt with which the CWU's National Health, Safety and Environment Officer has been treated by being left out completely on an agreement which directly effects ALL CWU Safety Reps working in the Post Office.

Further still, the T&FS executive have already removed Health & Wellbeing from the remit of Union Safety Reps working in British Telecom and the Union's Health & Safety Department, again without any reference to the department and WITHOUT any specific conference mandate to do so.

Web editor, Chris Ingram asked Andy Fury's office for a response to 12 questions about the agreement,

"I am publishing a news article this week about the Collective Engagement Framework (CEF) and it impact upon the
CWU's Health and Safety Community and the role of the Union Safety Rep which long established in law and enshrined
in the Safety Reps and Safety Committees Regulations 1977.

The impact of the new agreement with the Post Office may well be cataclysmic and bring on the end of the Union Safety Rep as we know the role to be and the unique legal authority that the regulations provide Union Safety Reps with, not least their stand-alone facility time in order to fully carry out their roles.

I would like to ensure the article is factually correct and therefore have a number of questions which I would like to include your responses to in the news item:...."

Amongst those question's were:

*Was the CWU Health & Safety Department consulted prior to the agreement being formulated?
*Was anyone from the Health & Safety Department involved in the negotiations?
*Did the Postal Executive request advise and clarifications with regard to the agreement and it's affects upon existing Unions Safety Reps?

Furthermore the emailing of the questions included this: "To that end I would be happy to include any article you would wish to write about the agreement and include it in the website."

Unfortunately to date, no response or acknowledgement to the email has been received.

So, it seems valid for any Union Safety Rep to ask:

"Before the Postal Executive, unanimously endorsed the new Collective Engagement Framework (CEF) National Agreement, did they defer to advice from the Health & Safety Department?

"Where they fully understanding of the impact upon the Health & Safety regulations with regard to Union Safety Reps?"

"Did they fully digest the 30 page document before agreeing 'unanimously' to it?"

The Letter To Branches (LTB388/18) puts great weight on the views of ACAS to legitimise the agreement and includes the statement:

"To put into perspective the logic behind the Dual Roles concept (IR and H&S), it was Acas that initially proposed this approach as part of the solution to the dispute. Indeed Acas strongly promoted Dual Roles and made the point that this approach is prevalent in many other Unions and industries."

However, on questioning Acas on this matter, the following contradictory response was received:

“Acas has no statutory remit in relation to joint trade union role and has no formal view on the matter.”

So the question is, did ACAS formerly promote Dual Roles which coincidentally just happens to exactly reflect the 'unconfirmed' rumours of the intention behind 'Re-Design' with regards to Health & Safety; or did it not?

Pic: Click to download the SR&SRC RegsHowever, the LTB also outlines the extensive roles and responsibilities of ALL Union Safety Reps as enshrined by law via the USRSC Regs 1977 and illustrates just how complex the role is. It also makes it clear that if the role it so to be implemented fully and appropriately, the facility time required cannot be one laid down with time constraints and mixed in with the facilities of other Union Reps; just as the regulations of 1977 envisaged and details for all employers to understand!

The main problem with the Collective Engagement Framework (CEF) agreement is that it lumps the extensive role of a Union Safety Rep, including the legal rights given to the role which IR based Union Reps do not have; with that of an IR rep's role.

It effectively abolishes CWU Union Health & Safety Reps from the Post Office altogether!

In doing so it completely compromises the two roles and ensures a tug of war between the functions of a Union Health & Safety Rep and that of an IR rep, in terms of facility time and removes the legal rights for specific facility time solely for the role of a USR that has existed since 1977!

The pressure on Branch's will be to ensure that IR roles supercede that of the USR roles part of the position, and in effect the role of the Union Safety Rep in the Post Office vanishes and replaced by Union Reps!

With all the speculation about CWU's Re-Design project and the negative impact upon the Union's health and safety organising, a bread and butter Trade Union issue; it is now more evident that the Union wishes to merge IR responsibilities with USR responsibilities; as this agreement illustrates.

Following the Tory anti-trade union legislation when it comes to facility times for Union Safety Reps and lumping them in with that of IR reps breaks the SRSC Regs of 1977, and is nothing less than acquiescent at best and enabling an outright assault on the principle of Union Safety Reps as determined by the 1977 legislation and their stand-alone facility time; at worst!

It is appalling and quite shocking that any Trade Union would behave in this way.

CWU, by agreeing the creation of a new kind of Union Rep, is now not only working with the employer to actually CUT Union facilities and legal rights, but ensuring that the flood gates are open for the abolition of Union Safety Reps in not only other CWU represented workplaces but also in all workplaces, as employers move to replicate this agreement and bring the latest anti-trade union laws into fruition across British industry.

More importantly, the future impact could well be the end of the Safety Regs and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 by facilitating it's repeal on the grounds of being unnecessary due to Union Safety Reps no longer being in existence in most workplaces!

Source: CWU / ACAS / unionsafety



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