UNISON seeks to recruit more health and safety reps

The importance of UNISON's health and safety reps is greater than ever, given the government's "continued assault" on the health and safety regulatory system, conference delegates agreed on Wednesday 19th June.

A motion on health and safety noted that the coalition's cuts to the Health and Safety Executive and local authority budgets has resulted in the reduction in workplace inspections. It has also overseen the dumbing down of HSE advice, guidance and approved codes of practice.

"Cuts to public services" and the "almost perpetual organisational change" has led to increased stress levels and other detrimental effects on the health and safety of the workforce.

But the protected functions of safety reps, and their right to paid time off, means they are ideally placed to defend members against such attacks.

Putting the motion, Chris Stevens from Glasgow City branch said that there were many more work-related deaths than government figures suggested.

And he urged UNISON to train many more health and safety reps, who could lead the fight for better conditions by carrying out workplace inspections themselves.

Passing the motion, delegates called on the NEC to:

  • work with UNISON's Learning and Organising Services (LAOS) to improve training for safety reps;
  • produce material as and when required and encourage branches to participate in the Safety in Numbers campaign;
  • provide bargaining advice to assist safety reps to get the time off they are entitled to;
  • work with the TUC, the Hazards campaign and other trade unions in the UK and Europe to combat the government's reckless attacks on health and safety.

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