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CWU Applauds Success Of Union Safety Rep's Employment Tribunal Case

A recent Employment Tribunal Judgement is being circulated for the information and assistance of CWU Health and Safety Representatives. It will be of particular interest to Health and Safety Reps who from time to time have experienced difficulties and obstruction from local management in respect of lack of compliance with the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 and associated National Agreements in respect of being obstructed and not being afforded support facilities and paid time off to discharge their legal functions and in particular workplace Inspections.

The Health, Safety and Environment Department has this past year had to deal with an unusually high number of 'disagreements' involving Health and Safety Representative's facilities, all of which we eventually resolved but which consumed a lot of valuable time and effort resolving what amounted to unnecessary, unwarranted and even illegal management actions.

The Employment Tribunal Case (Mr P.McCarthy v London Underground Ltd) in the 2007 case involving an ASLEF, Train Drivers Union Health and Safety Representative who was prevented from fulfilling his health and safety role by London Underground won thousands of pounds compensation in a resounding victory at an employment tribunal.

London Underground was found to have "wilfully and deliberately" flouted health and safety law by refusing to allow Paul McCarthy, 47, to inspect four tube lines. The Tribunal said it could see "little if any attempt" by London Underground to comply with health and safety law when it prevented Mr McCarthy from inspecting the Hammersmith and City, District, Metropolitan and Waterloo and City lines. As a health and safety representative it was his role to inspect the Tube network to check that it was a safe working environment for all staff.

The Tribunal, which awarded Mr McCarthy £11,500 plus £4,500 costs, said it was surprising that senior management had not attended the Employment Tribunal to explain why they had decided not to comply with the law.

It also found that London Underground's defence of the claim had been "misconceived and unreasonable".

ASLEF issued a statement following the ET hearing, stating that the Union will continue to defend industrially and if needs be - legally - all our members' health, safety and welfare, no matter where they work or whatever operational grade they are in.

ASLEF have asked the Health & Safety Executive to now consider prosecutions of the Managers responsible for the breeches of the Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations and have also asked London Underground what disciplinary action they are intending to take against the Managers concerned for compromising their employees' safety.

Source: CWU

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