A week is a long time for those involved in the Save Our Safety campaign spearheaded by this website, but some 52 plus weeks later, those involved in the campaign and production of the final document; can now bask in the sunlight of success as the CWU's General Secretary gives his full support to the campaign document and it's implementation, which will indeed save health and safety in the CWU.
The SOS Campaign which started the fight back against the CWU Redesign plans feared to either merge the department or close it down and consequently to reduce the effectiveness of the Union's thousands of Safety Reps and Area Safety Reps, was started in the North West in March of 2018, culminating in a draft H&S Strategy document being completed in September 2018.
In the meeting with the Union's General Secretary last November, the final version of the SOS Campaign document was presented by members of the Health & Safety Forums.
It was reported soon after that meeting that those from the NEC and the General Secretary, were impressed with the professionalism of the document and stated that future meetings would take place once they had put together a response to the SOS Strategy document.
This included the production of a key campaign video featuring CWU members, MPs and the music of Billy Brag, and the complete revamping of the initial document into a punchy format and style which is now hosted on-line and is accessible to all with a laptop and even a smart mobile phone. It also included the video message from Frances O'Grady, TUC's General Secretary, produced for this website.
Following those highly successful and positive meetings, the final strategy document was put together by members of the original campaign team and representatives from the CWU's Health & Safety Co-ords across the country, earlier this year and presented to the CWU HQ team.
At the time of the first meeting with the CWU's General Secretary, Derek Maylor, then Chair of the North West BTU Health & Safety Co-ord wrote this comment in this website's news item entitled Health & Safety SOS Campaign Meeting With CWU's GS A Resounding Success
"We have raised concerns over the last few months that the restructuring of the CWU may not best serve the welfare of the members or the communities where we live and work so it was satisfying that the research and work that had been put together was received, respected and treated in the professional manner in which it had been compiled."
In conclusion Derek said:
"Many of the issues that had been worrying Safety Reps have been allayed and we look forward to participating in the working party that has resulted for the benefits of the members, the CWU and our communities where we are active."
But in looking forward to the future re-design of Health & Safety at CWU HQ and the implementation of the recommendations within the SOS Campaign final document, we must not forget just how we got where we are now.
Made up of CWU USRs from both Postal and T&FS constituencies, the Campaign itself was long and hard, and often frustrating; although with major highlights and support from both fellow Trade Unionists and even one or two MPs; not to mention the hundreds of Union Safety Reps in the CWU and the Union's health & safety co-ords across the country.
Unionsafety website was proud to be part of the Campaign launch and subsequently reported on Campaign activities and the progress being made. It promoted the survey and petition of the SOS Campaign.
The success of the petition on Health & Safety legislation and of the USR Survey on the future Health and Safety strategies and HQ resources, not to mention the actual H&S Dept itself; were just two of the major events during the course of the campaign.
The survey itself was part of the original document presented to the GS and his team at CWU HQ in November 2018, and provided the evidence that the campaign was not just amongst certain individuals or 'the Health & Safety mafia' as the Campaign supporters were described by one individual who clearly did not approve of the actions that hundreds of CWU USRs were clearly taking in supporting the SOS campaign!
Support for Health & Safety from the TUC's General Secretary in a video message to CWU safety reps, produced by unionsafety website editor Chris Ingram and previously posted on this website; gave campaigners a huge jolt to their morale in June of 2018.
But the campaign also highlighted the threats to worker's rights and health & safety at work legislation in particular, as well as facilities for Union Safety Reps to carry out their legislative function in the workplace from the Tory Government.
And now the new threat from Brexit and any subsequent UK/US Trade Deal which will result in the complete watering down or even elimination of workplace health & safety, food and environmental standards.
Further, the eradication of the 'precautionary' approach to production and sale of chemicals, food stuffs, working practices, the environment and consumer products; that both the UK and the EU adhere to, in favour of the US culture of allowing anything to be produced and sold.
Only once it has been proven (often in a court of law) to be of harm to consumers, the environment, food, and even children's toys; is it then withdrawn or modified to remove the harmful elements. E.G. up to 1% asbestos can be legally present in children's toys and make-up still in 2019!
So, with the acceptance of the final document by the General Secretary of the CWU, the future is looking good for the re-design project with regard to Health & Safety culture and resources within this Union.
There was a small group of merely four USRs at the start of the SOS Campaign who grew it into a national campaign, and they are applauded by this website for their tenacity and campaigning abilities, but most of all for their concern for the future of Health & Safety in the CWU and wider trade union movement.
Jamie McGovern, Area Safety Rep and member of the CWU Greater Mersey Amal central committee told Unionsafety:
“The North West CWU Safety community have been active for 2 years now raising awareness of the imminent threat and dangers of Brexit, especially for when we move outside of the EU and outside of European worker safety protection offered currently by legislation.
We have also raised concerns over CWU redesign and the dangers of apathy towards continuous H&S protection by promoting the absolute need for full commitment over the next 5 to 10 years to recognise a number of serious & emerging risks."
Commenting specifically on the final document on the future of Health & Safety structures and resources in the CWU; he added:
"The SOS document was built around the 200 plus responses from CWU H&S reps to the survey which was launched by the union safety website in 2018. Those responses shaped this document which is now going out to our regions with deserved recognition.
This is a document that was built by the safety community with the aim of inclusively protecting every single member of the CWU in their workplaces.”
Mark Holt Area Health & Safety Representative North West No 1 Branch, said of the final document:
The final SOS document, which includes the video below, has been produced as an on-line file which can be read and shared via the links below, with the main page of the document linked to via the 'DNA' pic top left, or scan the QR code to the left with your mobile phone to be taken direct to the document.
For the purposes of being able to go to individual sections of the document, you can use the links below:
Within the document you will see this SOS Campaign video, depending upon your laptop/mobile phone set up:
Source: Unionsafety / Derek Maylor / Jamie McGovern / Mark D Holt
See also these news items and documents for further background to the SOS Campaign: