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Transport union Unite is balloting 68 drivers operating trains on Eurotunnel for strike action over the sacking of a driver facing a cancer diagnosis. On 13 April, Ray Field - who for 15 years had been a Unite union representative at Eurotunnel - was diagnosed with suspected skin cancer after a GP noticed lesions on his skin. The previous month he had requested holiday for the six days after his medical appointment, but the request was refused by the company. Ray received a medical certificate from his GP signing him off work for two weeks, citing depression related to the possible cancer diagnosis. His mother had died of skin cancer at a young age and the psychological stress of knowing he may face the same condition led Ray to decide to go abroad for six days to clear his head. He already suffered from high blood pressure and had been put on to non-safety critical work. The lesions were subsequently removed and confirmed as cancer. Ray was given the all clear at the start of June, when tests showed that the cancer had not spread. However, after the company found out he had gone abroad while signed off sick with depression, an investigation was initiated. This led to Ray's dismissal on 29 June. Unite regional officer Dave Weeks said: 'Eurotunnel's behaviour is heavy-handed, cruel and callous. His friends and colleagues are not prepared to accept the company's outrageous decision to kick a man when he is down. This dispute could be resolved at a stroke if Eurotunnel do what is right and reinstate Ray. Otherwise there is a very real possibility that Eurotunnel services will grind to a halt during the peak holiday season.'
A landmark ruling involving NHS Leeds has established an employee is still entitled to paid annual holidays, even if they have been off sick for the whole of that year. The Court of Appeal ruled that part-time, 20 hour-a-week NHS Leeds clerical worker Janet Larner was entitled to her paid leave for the year 2009/10 when she was off sick for the whole year. Unite national officer for health Barrie Brown said: 'This case was being watched by a number of NHS trusts for its outcome - and, in this respect, it is a landmark judgment. It reinforces the principle that if you are off sick for a lengthy period you are still entitled to paid annual holidays and that they can't be withheld from you by an employer. It is part of your contract of employment.' Mrs Larner worked for NHS Leeds from 2000 and went off on sick leave in January 2009 and never returned. The trust dismissed her in April 2010. But in her compensation package the trust did not include the untaken paid leave for 2009/10 on the grounds Mrs Larner had neither requested it, nor asked for it to be carried forward. But lawyers for the Unite member argued she had been too ill during that year and was not even thinking of taking holidays. Her case had been upheld by an Employment Tribunal and an Employment Appeal Tribunal. In its judgment, the Court of Appeal said: 'She was entitled to carry her untaken paid leave forward to the next leave year in 2010/11 without making a prior request to do so.' Unite's Barrie Brown said: 'Even though the sum involved in this case is less than £1,000, it shows that employers, not just in the NHS, can't deduct holiday pay from sick employees in this fashion. The Court of Appeal ruling upholds an important principle and draws a line in the sand for other employers thinking along these lines.'
UNISON has repeated its call for an end to government stalling on needlestick hazards, after two refuse collectors from West Sussex were pricked by hypodermic needles. The two workers, who were employed by waste giant Biffa on a contract to collect household waste for Arun District Council, are facing the possibility of infection and two years of blood tests after being pricked by the needles, which had been left in black plastic waste bags by a resident. Despite wearing protective clothing, including gloves and ballistic nylon trousers, both men were pierced in the hands. According to UNISON, many of its members face the daily risk of injury from discarded needles. Risky jobs include street cleaning, refuse collection, gardening and general cleaning and caretaking, as well as health and social care jobs. The union says if a used needle punctures the skin then there is a risk of infection from viruses and other blood-borne diseases including hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV. UNISON said the latest incidents highlighted the urgency with which the government should 'end the horror caused to all public service workers by sharps injuries.' On 1 June this year, UNISON hosted the European Bio-safety Summit 2012 where representatives from across Europe met to discuss the progress and implementation of an EU Directive, designed to cut sharps injuries (Risks 447). Commenting at the time, UNISON head of health Christina McAnea accused the UK government of 'dragging its heels' and said: 'An EU Directive in 2009 set May 2013 as the deadline for the introduction of safer needles across the European Union,' adding: 'But why wait till then to stop the misery of needlestick injuries?' (Risks 559).
A hospital worker developed painful dermatitis after being made to use a strong alcohol-based hand rub up to 40 times a shift. GMB member Georgina Thornton, 62, was eventually forced to leave her job as a lead healthcare assistant for Derriford Hospital in Plymouth because the skin on her hands became so sensitive to the alcohol rub she developed painful reoccurring sores. Mrs Thornton, who had worked in hospitals all of her working life, has been unsuccessful at applying for jobs in other workplaces and fears her condition means she will never work again. She first noticed her hands were becoming red and itchy in August 2007. The hospital had introduced a strong alcohol rub the previous year called Softalind Pure Blue Label and due to an MRSA scare staff were required to use the rub at the start and end of every shift, before they dealt with each patient, after visiting the toilet and when entering and leaving wards. Her doctor diagnosed her with dermatitis and said it was probably caused by the alcohol rub. Despite being prescribed several types of steroid cream over the next two years, and periods off on sick leave, the dermatitis would return every time she went back to work. The hospital trust was aware of the problem with her hands but nothing was done to address the cause, and she was eventually medically retired. Faced with a GMB-backed compensation claim, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for £44,000. John Phillips, GMB South West region secretary, said 'the hospital was using a type of alcohol rub which was far too strong for repetitive use of this nature. A simple risk assessment by the trust would have highlighted the need to use a more suitable rub to prevent staff developing skin conditions.' A report last month revealed 'superbug' infections were rising at the hospital.
Tube union RMT has demanded an urgent investigation into the real impact of cuts to fleet maintenance schedules after a 31 July incident on the system's Central Line. The union says the probe should pay particular attention to brake inspections and renewals, as it emerged defective brakes may have seized up on a Tube train causing a fire scare and lengthy delays. A driver is reported to have seen smoke billowing from the tunnel at Leyton and noticed a strong smell of burning. RMT said the reports were consistent with the brakes failing and welding together - a potential impact of maintenance cuts the union has been highlighting for over two years. Commenting on the day of the incident, RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: 'All of the reports received so far are consistent with a brake failure leading to a fire hazard and the welding tight of over-heated parts. It is down to LUL [London Underground Ltd] to now confirm the cause of this major breakdown and disruption and RMT safety reps will be playing a full role.' The union leader added: 'RMT has warned for over two years about the impact of fleet maintenance cuts and specifically brake inspections and the doubling of schedules from 14 to 28 days. We have even released pictures of worn parts from the trains and LUL and the Mayor have not only ignored us but dismissed it as 'scaremongering.' Our reps are closely monitoring the situation and staff and passenger safety remains RMT's key priority.'
The family of a maintenance engineer who was killed at work has received compensation. The 43-year-old Unite member, who worked for printing giant Wyndeham Peterborough, died after being crushed by the printing press he was trying to fix. He had entered the machine when part of it descended onto his chest. His colleagues and fire-fighters worked to free him but he died from his injuries. Legal experts brought in by the union discovered only weeks before the tragedy an engineer had attempted to fix the machine in the same way and narrowly avoided being hurt in the same manner. The incident was never reported and staff were not warned about the danger. Following the Unite member's death, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Wyndeham Peterborough. In March this year it was fined £112,500 and ordered to pay £80,000 costs after it admitted criminal safety offences (Risks 549). The court heard there has been two incidents in the months before the death when machinery moved unexpectedly in the same enclosure, but the company had failed to act. In a union-backed compensation case the firm again admitted liability and settled the family's claim out of court for £412,500. Unite's Peter Kavanagh commented: 'The previous incident should have shocked the employers into action and even basic lessons learned from it might have saved our member's life. We trust lessons have not only been learned here but elsewhere where this machinery is in use.' Allison Fitchett from Thompsons Solicitors, the law firm brought in by Unite to act in the case, said: 'This employer had no set guidance for reporting incidents in the factory. The very fact that another worker had narrowly escaped a similar fate just a few weeks earlier should have rung significant alarm bells. If the previous accident had been reported and safety checks made this young family would not be left without their dad.'
A painter was off work for three months after suffering whiplash injuries when he struck his head ducking under a scaffold bar deliberately positioned at waist height across a walkway. The 22-year-old Unite member from Kent, whose name has not been released, was injured whilst working for CBI Ltd on the Isle of Grain, Rochester. He was walking along a scaffolding walkway after painting a pipe and attempted to duck under the 3ft high metal 'goal post', which had been put in place to allow workers to pass under a gas pipe. He struck his head on the underside of the goal post, and was left dazed. His neck began to swell and he was signed off work with whiplash injuries for two weeks. He continued to suffer pain in his neck which meant he was unable to move his head easily and as a result couldn't return to work. He was eventually made redundant, for reasons unrelated to the injury, three months later. His injured neck meant he couldn't undertake heavy lifting or drive and found it difficult to sleep. He received intensive physiotherapy and his neck is now healed. In a union-backed compensation case, CBI admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for £9,250. Peter Kavanagh, Unite regional secretary, commented: 'A three foot high obstruction in the middle of a scaffolding walkway is an accident waiting to happen.'
Blacklisted workers in the UK have launched a High Court claim against construction giant Sir Robert McAlpine which could potentially be worth £600 million. Law firm Guney, Clark & Ryan served a claim on behalf of 86 claimants for 'Tort of unlawful conspiracy' at the High Court. The claim targets Sir Robert McAlpine as the company with the worst record of blacklisting. The last invoice issued to the firm by The Consulting Association, the now defunct agency which operated the industry-financed blacklist, was in excess of £28,000. However, the conspiracy charge means Sir Robert McAlpine would also be responsible for the actions of the 40 plus contractors implicated in the scandal in an investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office. The average claim has been estimated at £20,000, which values the current cases at over £17 million. As this is the first wave of claimants, out of a possible 3,200 workers included on The Consulting Association blacklist, the total payout facing building firms could exceed £600 million.
The blacklisted workers are being represented in the High Court by Sir Hugh Tomlinson QC, barrister to celebrities in the News of the World phone hacking cases. According to Observer journalist Nick Cohen, 'the construction industry is sitting on a story as grave in its implications as the phone-hacking affair - graver I will argue. You are unlikely to have heard mention of it for a simple and disreputable reason: the victims are working-class men rather than celebrities.' Cohen adds: 'The blacklisting puts conservative protests about 'elf and safety' and 'political correctness gone mad' in their place. The trouble with political correctness in Britain is that it is not nearly mad enough about cowboy multinationals, which regard the lives of casual labourers as dispensable.'
Working after eight months of pregnancy could be bad for your baby, according to a new study. Women who worked after they were eight months pregnant had babies on average around 230g (0.5lb) lighter than those who stopped work between six and eight months according to the study, published in the July edition of the Journal of Labor Economics. The University of Essex research - which drew on data from three major studies, two in the UK and one in the US - found the effect of continuing to work during the late stages of pregnancy was equal to that of smoking while pregnant. Past research has shown babies with low birth weights are at higher risk of poor health and slow development, and may suffer from a variety of problems later in life. Stopping work early in pregnancy was particularly beneficial for women with lower levels of education, the study found - suggesting that the effect of working during pregnancy was possibly more marked for those doing physically demanding work. Prof Marco Francesconi, one of the authors of the study, said the government should consider incentives for employers to offer more flexible maternity leave to women who might need a break before, rather than after, their babies were born. He said: 'We know low birth weight is a predictor of many things that happen later, including lower chances of completing school successfully, lower wages and higher mortality. We need to think seriously about parental leave, because - as this study suggests - the possible benefits of taking leave flexibly before the birth could be quite high.' The study also suggests British women may now be working longer into their pregnancies.
Shiftworkers are at increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, according to a new study. The authors, whose findings are published online in the British Medical Journal, say their research is the largest analysis of shiftwork and vascular risk to date and 'has implications for public policy and occupational medicine.' The team of researchers from Canada and Norway analysed 34 studies. In total, there were 17,359 coronary events of some kind, including cardiac arrests, 6,598 heart attacks and 1,854 strokes caused by lack of blood to the brain. These events were more common in shiftworkers than in other people. The BMJ study calculated that shiftwork was linked to a 23 per cent increased risk of heart attack, 24 per cent increased risk of a coronary event and 5 per cent increased risk of stroke. The researchers took the socioeconomic status of the workers, their diet and general health into account in their findings. The study concludes: 'Shiftworkers should be educated about cardiovascular symptoms in an effort to forestall or avert the earliest clinical manifestations of disease. Evidence also exists in the literature to suggest that modification and rationalisation of shift schedules may yield dividends in terms of healthier, more productive workers; however, the long term effects of these alterations on vascular outcomes remain unknown. More work is needed to identify the most vulnerable subsets of shiftworkers and the effects of shift modifying strategies on overall vascular health.'
A major US study has linked high strain, active jobs to a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in female health professionals. The study examined the relationship between job strain and job insecurity and rates of CVD among the 22,086 participants in the Women's Health Study (WHS). The authors, writing in the online journal PLoS ONE, note: 'This 10 year prospective study of female health professionals revealed that women with active jobs (high demand, high control) and high strain (high demand, low control) were 38 per cent more likely to experience a first CVD event relative to women reporting low job strain, adjusting age, race, study drug randomisation, education, and income.' They conclude: 'Our findings suggest the need to develop interventions to improve psychosocial characteristics of the work environment since this may have long-term benefits for cardiovascular health in women. Similarly, research is needed to develop and validate employee work models that minimise work stress. From a clinical perspective, it may be useful for health professionals to screen patients for psychosocial stressors and to connect individuals to resources for healthy stress management.'
A much worse than anticipated decline in the fortunes of the UK-based oil giant BP can be explained in a large part by its safety-related woes, the company has admitted. Commenting on publication this week of its 'weak' results for the second quarter of 2012, chief executive Bob Dudley said factors including a fall in oil prices had hit the industry as a whole, but added the results that prompted a steep drop in the company's share price were down to 'a combination of factors affecting both the sector and BP specifically.' These BP-specific factors included lost production after the closure of key oil fields for maintenance as part of a safety crackdown following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The company also increased by $847m (£538m) in the second quarter its provision for compensation and other charges arising from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which resulted in 11 deaths and widespread environmental destruction. By the end of the quarter, BP had paid a total of $8.8 billion (£5.6bn) in individual and business claims and government payments arising from the Deepwater Horizon incident. According to BP: 'The cash balances in the Trust and the Qualified Settlement Funds at 30 June, amounted to $10.1 billion, with $17.9 billion contributed in and $7.8 billion disbursed.' The company has now set aside a total of $38bn (£24.4bn) to meet the estimated bill. The BP chief noted: 'The effects of price movements have impacted our earnings in the quarter. Our extensive turnaround and maintenance programme, which will continue into the third quarter, is also affecting some aspects of our near term results. All of this will take time, but it is important investment that will enhance safety and reliability for the long term.' BP is struggling to shake off the reputational blow of the April 2010 Gulf of Mexico blow-out after coming under further fire in a July report from the US government's Chemical Safety Board (Risks 566).
A North Wales company handling high volumes of extremely hazardous chemicals has been criticised by a judge for its 'abysmal' management and 'incompetence'. Archimica Ltd, which makes chemicals for the pharmaceutical industry, keeps 41 'dangerous' substances on its Sandycroft site in Flintshire, which is close to a residential area. The chemicals have the potential to give rise to the release of toxic, highly flammable or explosive substances, Mold Crown Court heard. Simon Parrington, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said there had been a release of the toxic and potential cancer-causing gas, methyl iodide, in November 2011, which led to HSE issuing a prohibition order. Had the company complied with previous HSE improvement notices, the accident could probably have been avoided. The company told the court it will spend nearly £1m over the next two years trying to meet the safety improvements called for by HSE. Archimica, taken over by Italian-multinational Euticals Ltd in May, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to failing to comply with three improvement notices from the HSE. Judge Philip Hughes fined Euticals Limited £100,000 plus £8,344 prosecution costs. He said: 'An aggravating feature is the defendant company's reckless regard for adhering to the law and somewhat dismissive attitude to those in the HSE trying to guide them and neglecting to take preventative measures to reduce the risks.' He added: 'This is a case which has demonstrated in the defendant company a persistent lack of management control and abysmal level of disorganisation and incompetence.' After the hearing HSE inspector Mark Burton said: 'Archimica Limited had plenty of opportunity to comply with the improvement notices after repeated visits from HSE and they still chose not to. They deal with dangerous chemicals every day and have a legal responsibility to make sure that how they do that is safe.'
Businesses are being told to do more to protect workers and members of the public from Legionnaires' disease. The safety notice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which warns of the dangers of reducing planned maintenance and cleaning schedules, came as Britain's second outbreak in three months claimed its first life. The safety watchdog said it had identifying common failings in legionella control from a review of outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease in Great Britain over the past 10 years. The research showed 90 per cent of outbreaks stem from failure to recognise potential legionella problems or to adopt effective control measures. The notice also stresses the need for effective and consistent monitoring of water quality and the importance of responsibilities being assigned to named individuals with proper management oversight. HSE's legionella expert Paul McDermott said those responsible for the maintenance of water systems 'have a responsibility to manage the risks they create to protect workers and the wider public. This is a reminder to them of what the law expects. Failure to comply with the law means they may face legal sanctions, including in the most serious cases prosecution through the courts.' The Health Protection Agency (HPA) confirmed on 31 July that the number of people infected in the Stoke-on-Trent Legionnaires' disease outbreak had risen to 19. So far there has been one death, 64-year-old Richard Griffin, who succumbed to multiple organ failure on 28 July. The Edinburgh outbreak claimed three lives and is thought to have infected over 100 people (Risks 566).
Innovative communication techniques that helped to prevent worker deaths during the Olympics construction project could be harnessed to benefit other projects, a study has found. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) jointly commissioned Loughborough University to investigate how safety techniques were communicated, along with their impact on multiple contractors during the Olympic build. The study was carried out by a team from the university's schools of Business and Economics and Civil and Building Engineering. Leader of the research team, Dr Alistair Cheyne, concluded: 'Strong leadership, accessible supervisors, worker engagement and reviewing practice are common tools for managers in any sector and can be easily adopted by other organisations.' Unions have said the Olympics project was an example of the benefits of proper union safety cover and employee engagement (Risks 557). TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson added: 'We welcome any research which will capture the lessons from the construction stage of this historical event, both the good, of which there is much, and also what could have been done better. It is crucial that the lessons from this project are learned and applied across the industry and government, as a major procurer of building work, has a major part to play in doing this.'
Marine accident investigators have called for improved safety in the fishing industry, after the number of fatal incidents rose last year. Eight fishermen lost their lives in 2011, up from five the year before, while the number of vessels lost at sea, 24, increased to its highest level since 2005, the annual report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) reveals. Steve Clinch, MAIB chief inspector, called for more focus on education and training in the fishing industry, adding that lives would be saved if more people wore life jackets while working on the open deck of vessels. The rise in fatalities coincides with a dramatic drop in MAIB resources. The MAIB annual report notes: 'The budget was reduced by around 18 per cent compared with its 2010 allocation, and as a consequence the number of inspectors employed was reduced from 16 to 12.'
A Cambridgeshire man shot himself 33 years after an injury at work left him in a wheelchair, an inquest has heard. Brian Longridge of St Neots left a note to his sister Margaret Corke saying he was 'sorry' before shooting himself with a 12-bore shotgun in his bedroom on 3 April. An inquest in Huntingdon heard Mrs Corke called police over concerns for her brother, who had been receiving care at home for a number of years. Coroner David Morris recorded a verdict that the 61-year-old took his own life, but added the reasons for his death would 'never be clear'. Insp Mark Greenhalgh, of Cambridgeshire police, said: 'There was nothing to suggest that his mental state meant he wasn't fit to keep a shotgun. I feel it was a combination of life events that led to the tragic death of Mr Longridge.' He concluded Mr Longridge had felt vulnerable, unable to cope with his disability, was concerned over money-related issues and about moving home, was suffering from pain in his hips and had suffered a breakdown in his relationship with his son. Mr Longridge had been in charge of financing his own care, which was administered by the county's physical disability service. But Mrs Corke said her brother did not have enough money in his account to pay for his carers, claiming his payments had been cut. Recent reports have linked suicides to factors including job insecurity (Risks 554), overwork (Risks 561) and job stress (Risks 521).
New official Australian research showing casual workers are 50 per cent more likely to be injured at work is solid proof that insecure work leads to unsafe working environments, the country's top union body has said. 'Australian work-related injury experience by sex and age, 2009-2010', published by national safety regulator Safe Work Australia, found that casual workers without leave entitlements reported 54 injuries per million hours worked compared with a rate of 35 for those with leave entitlements. Ged Kearney, president of the national union federation ACTU, welcomed the report which she said confirmed one of the characteristics of a secure job was a healthy and safe workplace. 'The fear, vulnerability and powerlessness experienced by workers engaged in insecure work mean they are less likely to raise health and safety concerns, they accept poor conditions and exploitation, and therefore face greater risks of injuries and illness,' she said. 'It makes no economic sense to continue to let these workers fall through the gap... Both the OECD and World Health Organisation have found that insecure work has negative impacts on workers' safety in the short term, and the associated uncertainty and anxiety damages the health of workers in the longer term.' The union leader added: 'The continued growth of insecure work will over time contribute to a widening of health inequalities, which is unacceptable.'
Complex employment relationships, gaps in the regulatory system and job insecurity can leave low-wage temp agency workers more vulnerable to workplace injuries, according to new research from the Toronto-based Institute for Work and Health. Researcher Ellen MacEachen and colleagues found 'that low-wage temp agency workers are less well protected because of the complex working relationship in which they find themselves.' She said temp agencies don't have control over the worksites to which workers are sent, and often don't fully know the risks. 'This is not about bad apples,' MacEachen said. 'It's about a structural weakness in the regulatory system that leaves temp agency workers without the same protection as regular workers.' The study included legal and documentary analysis, as well as focus groups and interviews with agency workers, temp agencies, client employers and key informants, such as inspectors and policymakers. It found temp agency efforts to prevent injuries are largely ineffective. It concluded this is because the agencies don't know or control the workplace, low-waged workers are reluctant to speak out for fear of losing their job placement or the chance of been taken on permanently, and because agencies and their workers have little power to demand improvements. The study also concluded client employers have little incentive to improve safety for temp agency workers. 'Low-wage temp agency workers are less well protected than workers in a standard employment relationship,' MacEachen said. 'Our research identifies ways that legislation and policies need to catch up with the reality of today's work conditions.'
A schoolteacher's suicide death was work-related, the Tokyo High Court has ruled. Kimura Yuriko started teaching in 2004 at an elementary school in Shizuoka's Iwata City. She quickly admitted to problems coping with the behaviour of some pupils, raising the issue repeatedly with school management. The court heard the school provided little support. Half a year later she killed herself at the age of 24. Yuriko's parents applied for workers' compensation for their daughter's death. Overwork-related suicide - karojisatsu - is a government-compensated occupational condition in Japan. However, the Shizuoka branch of the Fund for Local Government Employees' Accident Compensation decided that there was no causal relationship between her death and her work. In July 2008, the parents appealed the case to the Shizuoka District Court. Three years later, the district court reversed the fund's judgment and ruled an excessively heavy work burden and the school management's negligence drove the teacher to suicide. The presiding judge noted she had been put in charge of an unruly class of fourth graders and was 'exposed to continued extreme stress and did not receive appropriate support,' causing her to develop symptoms of depression. The Tokyo High Court dismissed the fund's appeal against the district court ruling. The high court's decision stated that the situation faced by the teacher was too stressful for a young newcomer to deal with. It also criticised the school management for failing to provide sufficient support. Following the decision, Kimura Kenji, Yuriko's father, said: 'I hope very much that my daughter's death will help improve the harsh work situation facing many schoolteachers.'
Walmart might be the world's largest retailer, but that is little consolation to the bruised and broken workers toiling in the warehouses supplying its stores. These 'lumpers', required to work inside dark, hot, metal shipping containers with little ventilation or water under pressure to meet high quotas, filed a complaint with the state agency responsible for workplace conditions last month. Workers must buy their own safety equipment from a company store. Injuries are common, as managers pressure workers to lift hundreds of boxes an hour. The complaint also detailed the dust, describing workers vomiting and coughing blood. The union-backed campaign group, Warehouse Workers United (WWU), lodged the official complaint with California labour authorities about conditions at NFI Crossdock, which is operated by NFI, a subsidiary of National Distribution Centers of Delaware. One recent study by the WWU and the University of California interviewed 101 workers and found that 83 of them said they had suffered a job-related illness. It also found that almost half of workers claimed to have been exposed to chemicals at work. Walmart says the labour conditions are the responsibility of its contractors. The contractors themselves often subcontract to staffing agencies, who supply most of the labour for the manual jobs. 'Walmart uses these companies as a buffer to negate any responsibility for what happens in their workplaces,' said Juan de Lara, a professor at the University of Southern California. Writing in the Guardian, he noted: 'Meanwhile, budget cuts to state regulatory agencies that are supposed to protect workers leave employees more vulnerable to occupational hazards and wage theft.'
COURSES FOR SEPTEMBER TO DECEMBER 2012
Newsletter (6,100 words) issued 3 Aug 2012
This page http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-21295-f0.cfm
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