2022-08-02 14:49

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CWU North West Health & Safety Forum First Seminar Absolute Success

Union safety reps from around the North West region of CWU Branches attended a new Health & Safety Seminar held for the first time on Wednesday 13th July 2022 in Manchester's Mechanics Institute.

With over 60 of the regions safety reps from both the Postal and T&FS constituencies of the CWU attending, the day was considered a resounding success by all who attended.

It was the line-up of special guest speakers that truly made the day one of authoritative factual information on topics from Dangerous Dogs to Air ventilation and Covid, and on mental health and suicide prevention to the work of the Samaritans.

The full line-up of speakers can be viewed from the image of the day's timetable to the left. Please note that Tony Kearns was unable to attend on the day.

The full videos of the guest speakers can be viewed below, but not in the order of the timetable due to changes having to be made on the day due to speaker's travel delays.

One of the key issues discussed at the event was that of mental health problems for workers, some of which is caused by work pressures, home life pressures; and can lead to suicidal thoughts and feelings.

Stalls were also present from the CWUHA, CWU NW Mental Health Network, Unionsafety website run by the NW BTU Health & Safety Co-ordinators Committee. Photo shows the stalls at the back of the room.

Click far right or far left to enlarge each side of photo

First up was the introduction by the event Chair, John McMurray and the welcome statement from Mark Holt, the CWU NW Region Health & Safety Lead:


Shelly Asquith from the TUC gave the first presentation of the day, talking about Covid and specifically Long Covid. She has written numerous authentic blogs for the TUC on a variety of important Health, Safety, and environmental issues such as working in extreme temperatures, Covid and air ventilation and how Union Safety Reps are responsible for ensuring safer workplaces in the UK where they are active.

Following on from Shelley, the speaker from the Samaritans Liverpool Branch, Rachel Howley, discussed the details of the work that the public mainly see as a 'suicide prevention' talk service.

But as she explained the work done by the organisation is far more than just that.

Shelley spoke to an audience for the first time since the 2 year Covid spell and the lock downs. but showed little sign of nerves:


Following a number of questions from the USRs attending, the next speaker was the CWU's North West Assistant Regional Secretary Emma Garner. She spoke on the everyday occurring verbal abuse that her Branch colleagues working in the Preston Brook Virgin Media/o2 call centre are exposed to by the public.

It has to be pointed out that this problem is not at all confined to this one call centre, as BT employers working in their call centres can testify. In essence, verbal abuse is a systemic problem that ALL call centre workers face in the UK.

Emma then introduced her CWU Branch colleague, Nadime Khan to speak on the plans that that her Branch has designed in order to help address the problems concerned and the emotion and fatigue from the fall-out of such abusive calls that CWU members working in Virgin Media/o2 call centres face daily.

One of the greatest myths put out by the Tory Government during the Covid pandemic was exposed by the next speaker, Hilda Palmer from Greater Manchester Hazards. She explained how washing hands and the concentration on touching surfaces as a way of passing on the Covid virus was used to hide the true pathway of contagion - the air we breathe and the bad ventilation in most workplaces.

Within the North West, the CWU has done a lot of work with the Merseyside Dog Safety Partnership (MSDP) in order to educate both CWU's Royal Mail delivery postmen and postwomen on dangerous dogs and how to avoid being bitten. Several campaigns have been launched by the Greater Mersey Amal Branch in partnership with local authorities and Dog safety and welfare groups. Dave Joyce, the Unions national health safety and welfare officer has led the CWU national campaigns, including the CWU's Bite Back Campaign; and pioneered changes in legislation covering Dangerous Dogs. He has worked too closely with Area Safety Reps in Royal Mail, including Jamie McGovern, ASR for Grter Mersey Amal Branch.

The next speaker was Sarah Garstecka from both the Dog's Trust and the Merseyside Dog Safety Partnership.

In her presentation, she enlightened the safety reps present about dog behaviour and the problems caused by breeders in terms of the individual temperaments of their dogs. She made it clear that breeders should ensure dogs with good temperaments is a key aim of their breeding programme, and that any dog can become a dangerous dog; depending upon its temperament and the dog's owners.

Following up from Sarah was Dave Joyce, CWU National Health, Safety and Environment Officer. Speaking about Dangerous Dogs and the national campaign of the Union, and the work done with Royal Mail Group; he made it clear that the work done by CWU's Union Safety Reps and Area Safety Reps was invaluable, saved lives and is of paramount importance to the ongoing education of delivery staff into how to protect themselves and avoid dangerous dog attacks by being Dog Aware.

Then we came to the end of the day's event, with questions to a panel featuring Dave Joyce, CWU National Health, Safety, and Environment Officer; Janet Newsham from Greater Manchester Hazards; and Jamie McGovern, CWU Area Safety Rep from the Union's Postal constituency.

L - R: Dave Joyce, John McMurray (Chair), Jamie McGovern, Janet Newsham

Janet spoke of the work that Union Safety Reps do saying that as all the evidence shows; they do indeed save lives. she thanked all present for the work they do in protecting their members from injury and death at work.

Dave, took questions ranging from time off for USRs to perform their statutory functions and on way forward for health and safety organisation within the CWU.

Once this Q&A session had finished, the Chair, John McMurray then invited Mark Holt, CWU NW Region Health & Safety Lead Officer to close this; the CWU NW Region's first Health & Safety Seminar:

All speakers responded to questions from the floor of Union Safety Reps after their presentations.





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