2024-04-28 17:25

banner unionsafete

In The Week Of International Workers Memorial Day CWU Dismantles It's H&S Structures

Health & Safety reduced to that of an 'advisory role'

In order to cut costs to the CWU, today's Redesign Conference agreed to the destruction of existing Health & Safety structures, the closing of the H&S Department, and the ending of a National Officer post with authority on H&S, to be replaced by an appointed official in an advisory role only.

In effect health & safety, the legal rights of USRs, and H&S legislation has now been reduced in the CWU from being authoritative and enforceable under legislation; to one of being purely advisory, with Industrial Relations superior to all other workplace issues that Trade Unions have traditionally pursued on behalf of their members.

This in a situation where the industrial executives are stretched in terms of resources to deal with IR issues on their own. Adding H&S responsibilities will make the situation even worse.

The appointed person will sit on a new Central Services call-centre style point of contact for Branches and Members, to advise on H&S questions and associated policy questions that Branches may have.

The responsibilities for the policy and implementation of Health & Safety at Work will be transferred to the individual industrial executives and no longer be headed by anyone with specific heath & safety, education, knowledge, or experience.

Unfortunately, there is currently no one on the industrial executives with understanding and knowledge of health & Safety At Work legislation, including such specific legislation such as Section 44 which gives employees the right to remove themselves from work areas and procedures which are detrimental to their health.

Further, the history of the industrial committees in using H&S legislation to deal with H&S failings of the employers shows that it has often been ignored, and not used; even in circumstances where doing so would have a beneficial affect upon negotiations which so often are based on productivity demands from the employer rather than addressing the H&S elements involved.

E.G. pressurising staff to do work requiring 2 engineers for safety reasons, with only one. Ignoring H&S risks to staff and the public caused by contractors employed by the employer in place of in-house staff. Penalising staff for raising H&S concerns and for delaying jobs because of the risk of injury.

Very importantly, there will no longer be a political voice of Health & Safety issues which affect CWU and all Trade Union members; despite the fact the CWU's H&S Dept and National Officer has been able to change the law on a number of issues such as Dangerous Dogs, and

Nor is there any mention of the need to have such a voice.

Given that both Industrial executives have kept themselves distant from the Head of Health & Safety Dept, and that the history of CWU Conference Health & Safety Section of the agenda seeing half the delegates walking out, and there being no replacement for either of the two other posts held by members of the H&S Dept; USRs can be forgiven for thinking the end of the H&S Dept was a long-term aim and that H&S is treated with disdain in the Union.

Union Safety Reps now fear their role will be replaced by IR reps at the behest of Employers wanting to gut the roles of USR's and to bury H&S legislation and the legal rights of USRs into a black hole, and within IR negotiations.

In opposing the motion from Greater Mersey Amal Branch, Dave Ward promised that there is no intention of combining both USR and IR reps roles. However, in realty the two industrial executives have a free-hand as to how they implement the change to H&S structures and especially considering that there is to be a 'Redesign Phase 2'; Such promises therefore cannot be guaranteed.

For many years there has been joint CWU/Employers H&S Committee meetings which included Branch USRs attending on the Union side, so the idea now being proposed and promised in the GS speech opposing Motion 9; is nothing new and not dependent upon the abolition of the H&S Dept and the 'advisory role only' of the single person appointed with far less knowledge, education and understanding of H&S Legislation than the majority of CWU Union Safety Reps!

It is also untrue that the only way of bringing H&S and IR roles together is to abolish H&S positions and to put the whole issue of health & safety at work under the authority of the two industrial committees who currently by and large ignore health & safety legislation when addressing concerns with the members employers.

It has also not gone unnoticed that this week is the week of the International Workers Memorial Day - day when we pay tribute to those who have been killed at work by callous and unscrupulous employers and campaigns to:

Remember the dead, fight for the living!

The message to employers of CWU members is quite clear from this conference decision to sideline health & Safety and minimise its importance in the eyes of the Union, and in the eyes of many within the CWU H&S community; that the CWU no longer places Health & Safety at work as a priority it will fight for.

This despite, the Safety Reps and Safety Committees Regulations 1978, the Health & Safety At Work Act 1974, and Section 44 of the Emloyment Rights Act 1996. All such regulationss make it clear that H&S is NOT an advisory issue!

But one of the worst moments within the debate came from an IR Branch Official who knows zilch about H&S, which angered Safey Reps across the CWU, especially on International Workers Memorial Day!

Safety reps have saved people's lives, as is acknowledged by the TUS and even the HSE!

No USR or ASR would take it upon themselves to be involved in a debate about industrial Relations issues, and try telling conference that IR reps do not know what the best structures are for them to support hem to implement their role.

Yet in an arrogant speech, by Plymouth and East Cornwall Branch delegate, who likened Health & Safety Specialists, and CWU USR/ASR to that of doormen or cleaners in a speech opposing the motion that argues for an elected official with expert H&S knowledge to ensure employees obey H&S legislation and promote the Union's H&S policies and support and defend the thousands of USR/ASR roles within CWU Branches, from being attacked by their employers.

"You wouldn't expect their psotions to be elected positions" he said.

Furthermore, he made it clear that USRs and ASRs only duties are that of an advisory role, despite the legal status within which their rights and roles are determined and the necessary training required to be a USR/ASR.

It was like listening to a "Tennis player dictate to a Cricket team how they should play cricket"; said one safety rep speaking privately following the debate.

Perhaps someone can buy the Branch a copy of the Brown Book for Christmas.

What it boils down to is that an opinion based on no knowledge of the subject matter, is not an opinion, but a prejudice!

Here is the debate that took place this morning, at the CWU Redesign Conference 2024:

Source: Unionsafety/CWU

See also:

SOS Campaign News Archive


Pic: Bak to News icon link

Designed, Hosted and Maintained by Union Safety Services