Workplace reps save lives and money
The prime minister's threat to remove funding for the time public sector union reps take to do their union work ignores the life- and cash-saving role these reps play, the TUC has said. David Cameron told the Commons last week: 'I do not think full-time trade unionists working in the public sector on trades union business, rather than serving the public, is right, and we will put that to an end.' Safety Practitioner, the magazine of safety professionals' organisation IOSH, reported: 'The prime minister's remarks came a week after he wrote a letter of support to Aidan Burley MP, who is spearheading the Trade Union Reform Campaign (TURC) in a bid to cut the facilities time funding. The prime minster wrote: 'Few would take issue with the unions working on behalf of their members in government departments and other public bodies in their own time, or with union funding.' TURC co-founder Mr Burley was asked in the Commons whether he had considered the benefit union reps provide in identifying and preventing health and safety problems in the workplace. He replied: 'My direct answer to the honourable gentleman is to ask what he thinks the human resources department, or the Health and Safety Executive are for. Public sector organisations have those people, so there is total duplication.' TUC national organiser Carl Roper commented: 'Those who highlight only the cost of facility time are telling half the story just to accommodate their ideologically motivated deep antipathy toward unions. The cost of facility time is more than justified by the benefits and savings that union reps, and health and safety reps in particular, bring to workplaces and society in general.' He added: 'Research by BERR (now BIS) in 2007 found that the work of union reps resulted in benefits to society of at least £136m as a result of reducing working days lost due to workplace injury and at least £45m as a result of reducing work related illness. This why the CBI and the HR professionals regard unions and their workplace reps as an essential resource and part of the modern workplace.'
Issued: 9 December, 2011