CWU To Have NO Health & Safety Strategy AT ALL!
With the long promised policy document from CWU HQ having been issued on the eve of the meeting of the CWU’s Ten H&S Forum’s with the Union’s General Secretary, there is a danger of it becoming the focus of the meeting tomorrow.
When you read the previously stated requirements of the H&S Forums* and their strongly held view that a number of changes should take place within Re-Design, not least a separate and autonomous Health & Safety Dept and a Separate Health & Safety Conference should be convened annually, it is clear that the stage is set for a conflict between those only interested in securing the future of Industrial Committees structures and those who believe that the Union should ensure Re-Design of the CWU includes structures and resources appropriate for the Union to be able to properly protect our member’s health, safety and welfare at work.
The argument, backed up with support from TUC Risks H&S weekly briefing, and with Frances O’Grady the General Secretary of the TUC having praised the thousands of Union Safety Reps across all Unions; is that Health & Safety structures within ALL Trade Unions should be increased in terms of their resourcing and made fit to tackle the forthcoming attacks on worker’s rights and health & safety legislation as a result of Brexit.
The North West BT Unions Health & Safety Co-ord Chair, Derek Maylor commented on the issueing of the policy document:
"Our General Secretary needs to remember that the CWU have mentioned many times that CWU members should be out in their communities; apart from the usual political activism such as Labour and Cooperative Parties membership and activism as councillors etc. we are.
Safety Reps are active in their local communities with these examples in the North West alone:
* a magistrate looking after safety within the community;
They are all pushing CWU/trade union policy and ethos at every opportunity. This is reflected around the country of course and the NW is not pretentious enough to think we are the only ones who do this."
"This community participation will be lost if the Health, Safety & Environment Dept and organisation is binned – not saying we will be prevented from participation but will lose any inclination to do so when our own union do not prioritise H, S & E for members and even demonstrate little interest!"
However, examining the NEC’s Policy Documents on RE-Design which will be debated at the CWU’s special conference in November; it clearly confirms that the CWU H&S Community and this website were correct from the outset in it’s portrayal of Re-Design being used as a vehicle with which to abolish existing Health and Safety Structures, and to remove the stand alone Health, Safety, and Environment Dept.
In a document which as with it’s predecessor, hardly mentions Health & Safety, and certainly not in a positive light when it did in the only paragraph to do so, once again confines mention of Health & Safety to the section on Re-Design of the Regional structures of the CWU; and again then scantily on a section concerning Annual Conference and the submitting of motions to conference.
1. H&S Forums are to be abolished and replaced with Regional Health & Safety Committees which are no longer autonomous, but answer to the Regional Committees.
2. Only ONE member from the newly formed Regional H&S Committees can attend their Regional Committee Meetings. and will do so in the capacity of the post of Health & Safety Lead.
3. This post will be for the first time, an elected post by the Branches in the Region and on the basis of one single Union constituency only! This will mean the loss of expertise and experience and the domination of one constituency over the other!
4. Regional H&S Committees will NOT be allowed to submit motions to annual conference, thereby ending year’s of custom and practice where the H&S Forums could submit motions on Health & Safety issues.
Indeed if it were not for these Forums being able to do so, there would never have been a Health & Safety policy making section at Annual Conference.
5. In the new structure, ONLY Regional Committees can submit motions to conference, with the exception of the Retired Members Committee, The Women’s Committee,
6. The Regional Committees will be responsible for supporting the CWU's new strategies listed: Organising and Recruitment Strategy, Education, Learning and Training Strategy– NO mention whatsoever of a Health & Safety Strategy!
7. There will be NO funding streams for Health & Safety Committees!
8. NEC Health & Safety sub-committee and all others to be ‘streamlined’ into the NEC! In effect, the NEC H&S Sub-committee could be abolished!
So now the CWU could well be the ONLY Trade Union without a national Health & Safety Strategy!
The specific health & safety needs of the numerous and different industry based jobs will no longer be represented at Regional Committees, as only ONE H&S Lead will have to take care of the needs of both member’s working in the T&FS and the Postal industries.
As predicted, the policy papers simply mirror the original Re-Design consultation document.
In effect the voice of CWU H&S Community is silenced, with no prospect of being able to submit motions in its own right and being totally taken over by the Regional Committees who will determine the subject of any motions submitted.
They do also confirm that the Re-organisation of the CWU's HQ is in fact the template upon which so much of the Re-Design policy rests, and indeed vice-versa.
For example, get rid of a department head and you can get rid of the Dept quietly. If not the reverse is true.
With a highly political front cover, featuring Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, it is clear what the future strategy of the CWU will be. Political change will be the main aim of the Union to ensure it's members interests are served well in any changes to Government policies and which directly affect our members and their families; and indeed society as a whole.
A copy of the policy documents can be downloaded here
Ironically, the most politically active part of the Union - the Health & Safety Department, because Health, Safety and the Environment are political issues - is being abolished in a project which is basically about saving money because of falling membership levels!
In this scenario, the lack of Branches recruitment campaigns is costing this Union a most respected Health, Safety and Environment department which punches well above its weight and is highly respected by the TUC and the HSE!
It is interesting, say some commentators, that the meeting was scheduled to take place on the day following the publication of the NEC policy documents which were actually agreed at a meeting on 15th August.
They weren’t published until late afternoon on the eve of the meeting, giving very little time for the Ten H&S Forum representatives to digest the proposals in the policy papers.
As a result of the timing of the meeting taking place after the publication of the policy papers, some believe that the response tomorrow to the wishes of the CWU H&S Community will be that it is too late to change the policy decisions of the NEC and that motions should be put to the Special Conference in November.
The trouble with that of course is that as it stands now, only Branches will be allowed to submit motions to the special conference, unless the SOC decide otherwise. We are promised a Letter to all Branches from them in the next few days.
Furthermore, the NEC motions could no doubt be in the form of ‘catch-all’ motions. E.G. specific to each section of the policy document and with little possibility to reject one part of the policy and agree another part of the same policy document. In other words – a 'take it or leave it' stunted debate!
In fact this has been confirmed today (29th August) in the LTB486/18 which can be downloaded here
Examples of the type of motions we can expect are listed in the back of the RE-Design Policy Documents booklet issued today.
In the meantime, we have less than 24 hours to learn of the outcome of the meeting between the Ten Health and Safety Forums and the CWU’s General Secretary.
Source: CWU / CWU H&S Community