Voice: Postal - July/August 2011 - (Page 12)
VOICE JULY | AUGUST 2011
H&S “SLASH AND BURN”
GOVERNMENT’S HEALTH & SAFETY PLANS ‘FRIGHTENING’ AND ‘DRACONIAN’
abour's health and safety supremo Lord Bill McKenzie described the Government's plans to weaken workplace regulations as "frightening" at a packed CWU Conference fringe meeting.
Reductions in workplace inspections, large-scale cuts to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and a new "categorisation" of industries placed the UK's reputation for having one of the best health and safety records in Europe at
United: Labour’s H&S supremo Lord Bill McKenzie (right) and the CWU’s Dave Joyce
risk, he warned. Cuts to the HSE were "draconian," Lord McKenzie said, while identifying whole industrial sectors as low-risk, medium-risk or high-risk was "a folly," particularly as this classification will determine whether or not workplaces will receive proactive inspections in the future. "This approach looks at the accident record of an industry as a whole rather than at specific jobs," he explained. "And the concept of having huge areas of work with no proactive inspections is frightening." Health and safety at work is, the shadow minister continued, "a moral, legal and business issue. "Moral, because everyone who goes out to work should have the right to return home safely afterwards. It's obviously a legal issue when one looks at the body of legislation that exists, and it's a business issue - and this is where I feel the Tories get it wrong - because companies with better health and safety systems invariably have better business systems too."
The first comprehensive health and safety at work legislation was back in 1974, an Act of Parliament that, Lord McKenzie recalled, "was introduced with some consensus, but I do feel that consensus is now coming to an end." As an example, he highlighted the potential dangers of the forthcoming Lofstedt Review - commissioned by the Government to investigate possible changes to the law - and the changed political environment, within which jokes and "myths" about health and safety are becoming commonplace among senior politicians. "This is a very difficult time and there is pressure on the trade union movement to be particularly vigilant," the shadow minister continued. "I want to work with you to keep the health and safety cause alive. We mustn't let the Government slip this under the radar." Thanking Lord McKenzie for his support, CWU national health, safety and environment officer Dave Joyce told the fringe meeting: "Of course, Labour didn't get everything right, but under this
terrible Tory/LibDem coalition, there's a policy of attacking health and safety with Daily Mail-style stories and straw-man arguments. "No-one voted for the slashing of their basic right to a safe place to work. But that's what we're getting from the Coalition Government with these savage HSE cuts and the weakening and removal of safety laws. "The CWU will be at the forefront of resisting these attacks and it's good to know that the Labour Party will be fighting alongside us." n Later, Conference passed an important resolution from the North West Region health and safety forum aimed at tightening up procedures for the reporting and recording of accidents at work. The motion instructed the NEC to "co-ordinate the gathering of information from reps on this perceived management failing." A further motion from the union's Eastern Region safety forum instructed the NEC to campaign jointly with employers to actively encourage employees to become blood and organ donors.
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Voice: Postal - July/August 2011
Voice: Postal - July/august 2011
General Secretary’s Column
Improving Job Security for All
The Latest Industry News
Child’s Play at Mount Pleasant
Shaping Up to Meet Future Challenges
CWU Salures CUPW-Sttp & TUC Awards
News Updates From the Telecoms Industry
General Strike Now Needed!
Epic Relay for CWUHA
Voice: Postal - July/August 2011