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Risks is the TUC's weekly newsletter for safety reps and others, sponsored by Thompsons Solicitors.

Hazards Magazine and Risks Editor, Rory O’Neill, has been nominated for the SHP’s Most Influential in Health & Safety 2021 award. There’s stiff competition - please vote so we can help see him win!


Increase sick pay so workers can isolate

The UK government must increase sick pay so workers can afford to self-isolate, the TUC has said. Commenting on the prime minister’s announcement on 27 November of tightened rules to address the new Omicron Covid-19 variant, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We all want to stay safe and stop this variant from spreading. Failure to do so will have a huge impact on public health, our frontline services and the economy.” The new measures announced by Boris Johnson require contacts of suspected Omicron cases to self-isolate, regardless of their age or vaccination status. The TUC leader commented: “Given more workers may now need to self-isolate, we need to protect them from financial hardship. Ministers must raise sick pay to the level of the Living Wage and make sure every worker can get it. No-one should have to choose between doing the right thing and putting food on the table.” TUC research published in February revealed that two million workers aren't eligible for sick pay and a third of those on zero hours contracts don't qualify for sick pay (Risks 983). A 28 November World Health Organisation (WHO) update on the Omicron variant noted it ‘is not yet clear’ whether it is either more transmissible or a cause of more serious disease compared to other variants. Announcing measures including mandatory masks in shops and on public transport in England at the 27 November Downing Street press conference, Boris Johnson said: “The measures that we are taking today - including on our borders and face masks - are temporary and precautionary, and we will review them in three weeks.”
TUC news release and report, Sick pay that works: TUC report on the urgent need for reform, February 2021. Prime Minister’s Office news release, 30 November update and Boris Johnson 27 November 2021 statement. WHO Omicron variant update, 28 November 2021. WHO Technical Brief.
BBC News Online. Stat News. CNN News.

Watering down safety in stores was ‘wrong’

The UK government must be absolutely clear that it is a legal requirement in England for shoppers to wear face coverings again, the retail union Usdaw has said. It was commenting after the Omicron variant of Covid-19 was detected in the UK and a government reversal of its relaxation of transport and retail mask rules. The union said the government was wrong to lift safety measures in stores on 19 July. Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “This flip-flopping on basic and sensible Covid measures and the different rules across the UK create confusion, reduce compliance and can lead to conflict.” He added: “Retail staff working with the public every day are deeply worried about catching Covid-19 and the arrival of the Omicron variant is a further concern. Wearing a face covering protects others, it should not be a personal preference, but a personal responsibility. The government must be clear and consistent on it being mandatory and that shopworkers are not expected to enforce the law on face coverings.” Usdaw said the government must be “absolutely clear that it is a legal requirement in England for shoppers to wear face coverings again.” Helen Dickinson, the chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents most big retailers, said: “It is vital that we do not place hardworking retail staff in harm’s way, and enforcement of face coverings must remain the duty of the authorities.”
Usdaw news release. BRC news release. BBC News Online. The Guardian.

‘Protect yourself’, RMT tells transport staff

Transport union RMT is advising its members “to ensure that they protect their own personal safety and the safety of their colleagues as a priority as masks become compulsory on transport services in England.” The union warned that the government has made no arrangements to resource the enforcement of their policy switch, leaving staff in the frontline “seriously exposed.” A recent RMT survey found that 76 per cent of staff in public facing roles on London’s Underground and TfL rail networks have been subjected to violence at work since the pandemic began, with half of these reporting that it has happened multiple times. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Life on the frontline of Britain's transport services has got harder and more dangerous for the keyworkers who have kept the country moving during the Covid crisis.” He added: “RMT is advising members to make sure that they take action to protect their personal safety at all times. We are not having a situation where train, bus and Tube staff become punchbags for angry and violent passengers because of the government's botched policy shifts. We support the wearing of masks but there are major issues about enforcement and we will not leave our members exposed on the frontline at huge personal risk. The government must make the resources available to properly police this reintroduction of compulsory face coverings on our transport services."
RMT news release and earlier news release.

Compulsory face mask ‘useless’ unless enforced

New rules requiring wearing of face masks to protect the population against the spread of the Omicron strain of the coronavirus will be “useless” unless the government ensures they are enforced, unions have said. The renewed measures include compulsory wearing of face masks on public transport and in retail from 30 November — but with no government measures to enforce the rules. Unions said frontline workers should not be responsible for enforcing the regulations, leaving them open to abuse and even violence. Unite national officer for passenger transport Bobby Morton said: “It is not sufficient to announce that face masks will once again become compulsory — this policy has got to be fully enforced in order to protect public health. The government’s previous inconsistent messaging on face mask wearing is almost certainly going to result in a high degree of non-compliance.” He added: “Unite’s advice to bus drivers is clear: it is not their role to enforce mask wearing, their responsibility is to safely drive and operate the bus. The job of enforcing mask wearing is that of the bus operator and the police.” He condemned the UK government’s decision to lift the measures in July. “Unite has consistently warned that the requirement to wear face masks should never have been removed while rates of Covid-19 remained high. It is only the arrival of the new variant which has forced the government to act.” Ahead of the government announcement, rail union TSSA said UK ministers must already know mandatory face masks on public transport “is a no brainier because it will help to protect not only the travelling public but those brave transport workers, our members, who have stood on the frontline throughout what is an ongoing pandemic.”
Unite news release. TSSA news release. Morning Star.

Union concern over Tube infection risks

London Underground workers were placed at avoidable risk after mask wearing became “openly ignored” on a large scale, unions said. Commenting ahead of the UK government’s announcement that masks should be worn on all public transport, they said there had been noticeable decline in the number of Tube users wearing face masks despite this being required on the underground system. Since the national rules ceased to apply in July, Transport for London (TfL) maintained its own masks rule and said it refused entry to over 400 people and asked more than 100 to leave services. But all the main Tube unions said their members have been left at unacceptable risk. Mick Whelan, general secretary of the train drivers’ union Aslef, said: “It is mandatory, but not enforced, on TfL and we have noticed a decline in recent days in the number of passengers wearing masks.” RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Staff members on London Underground are put in an invidious and potentially dangerous situation as mask-wearing on TFL, a condition of carriage, is now being openly ignored on a large scale.” Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the union TSSA, said: “Sadly, we remain in the midst of a deadly pandemic and it’s vital that coverings are used across the London Underground, wider Transport for London services and public transport as a whole. Our union is all too aware of the sacrifices made by the many brave transport workers who have stood on the frontline throughout this Covid crisis.”
Evening Standard. East London Guardian.

Transport union backs more home working

The transport and travel union TSSA has called for employers to support homeworking wherever possible as the most effective method to stop transmission of the Omicron variant. The union's demand for greater preventive measures to protect against Covid infection follows successful calls for face masks to be made mandatory on public transport and in shops. But the union wants Boris Johnson to go further to protect people ahead of Christmas. TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “If 2020 taught us anything it is that when Johnson chickens out of taking tough action quickly on coronavirus, we all suffer.” He added: “There’s much we still don’t know about the Omicron variant, but we do know how to reduce transmission. That’s why we need a return to homeworking where possible across the UK along with much greater vigilance on face coverings, hygiene and social distancing. Johnson’s big announcement was a return to mask wearing in shops and public transport, but a one-line policy isn’t enough. We need details and plans for enforcement. Sound-bites won’t beat coronavirus!”
TSSA news release.

Masks good, but other measures necessary

Teaching union NEU has welcomed new government guidance requiring some mask wearing in secondary schools, but has warned that other measures including improved ventilation and air filtration are also necessary. Commenting on the new Department for Education (DfE) guidance that masks must be worn by adults and children in year 7 and above in communal areas, NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “We think the DfE should go further and encourage mask-wearing in secondary classrooms and also plan investment to improve ventilation and air filtration. These steps can all help reduce the spread of Covid and thereby reduce disruption to education.” He added: “Omicron makes the threat of disruption of education all the clearer: any close contacts of an Omicron case, staff or pupils, will have to self-isolate for 10 days, whether vaccinated or not. Such steps are all the more important because vaccination has not yet been offered to even a majority of secondary children.” Commenting on changes to the vaccination policy, he said: “We welcome the change in pace on vaccination that will now allow adults working in schools and colleges to get their booster much earlier than anticipated, and secondary-age children to have quicker access to their next jab.”
NEU news release and vaccine policy news release. Prime Minister’s Office news release, 30 November 2021. Schools COVID-19 operational guidance, DfE, updated 29 November 2021.

School face coverings rule not enough

Just reintroducing face coverings in secondary schools in England may not be enough to protect staff and pupils from infection, teaching union NASUWT has warned. Commenting on the UK government’s announcement of new temporary measures in response to the potential threat from the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 in the UK, NASUWT general secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “The reintroduction of the requirement for face coverings to be worn in communal areas in all settings by staff and visitors and by pupils in year 7 and above, including on public transport, is helpful. But there is strong evidence that the government needs to go further, including by reintroducing the requirement for wearing face coverings in classrooms in light of the persistently high daily number of coronavirus cases.” Calling for “stronger” messaging from the government, “clear and robust” rules on isolation and additional resources for schools to implement safe practices, he added: “In the event that there is a delay in a pupil getting a PCR test, or refusing to do so, there is a real risk that close contacts of the new Omicron variant will continue to attend schools for longer than is appropriate, potentially putting others at risk of contracting the new variant and of further transmission of the virus in schools and in the wider community. It is right that the government should focus on ensuring that pupils are tested regularly. However, given that significant numbers of pupils do not undertake the recommended twice-weekly LFD tests, the government must identify a more effective strategy for Covid testing to ensure that all schools can continue to remain open safely.”
NASUWT news release.

Covid rules should apply in hospitality too

Workers in the hospitality sector should not be exempted from the new Covid safety protections, Unite has said. The union is demanding that culture secretary Nadine Dorries acts to ensure mandatory mask wearing for customers visiting hospitality venues across the UK. The new masks mandate announced for England by the UK government only applies to those travelling on public transport or visiting shops. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “We must ask why hospitality is the only area in the public arena where facemasks are not compulsory. Does the government consider the health and safety of hospitality workers less of a priority than that of workers in other sectors?” The Unite leader added: “It is outrageous that hospitality workers are being left to police the wearing of facemasks due to the lack of proper mandatory rules or effective legislation. My union is pledged to fight to defend the jobs pay and conditions of our members and the health and safety of our hospitality members is high on that list.” Unite is calling on the culture secretary Nadine Dorries to immediately open talks with industry leaders and the unions with the aim of imposing mandatory mask wearing at hospitality venues across the whole of the UK, unless seated with family members or close friends and while eating and drinking. Unite industrial organiser for hospitality Bryan Simpson said: “Unite has received many reports from its hospitality members who have been verbally and physically abused and some even receiving deaths threats for asking customers to wear facemasks.” He added: “Our view is that facemasks must be compulsory in all public spaces - with no loopholes - and that it must not be left to individuals working in hospitality or any other sector, for that matter, to enforce.”
Unite news release.

Prime minister again caught flouting mask rules

Boris Johnson’s has followed up his mask-less appearances at a hospital and the Glasgow UN climate summit with further flouting at the rules on a train and in a theatre. On 18 November photographs emerged of a mask-less Boris Johnson on a train in Manchester, while other passengers around him wore masks. Then on 23 November the prime minister again flouted official requests to wear a mask as he watched a performance of Macbeth at the Almeida theatre in north London. The new incidents prompted a wave of criticism of the poor example set by the prime minister and came after a torrid few days in which backbench Tories have accused him of losing the plot. A fellow audience member said Johnson was not wearing a face covering during the performance, despite the theatre’s requests for visitors to wear one at all times when not eating or drinking. He was also photographed inside a public area of the theatre without a mask on. Ticket-holders were emailed before the performance, and told: “Remember to wear a face covering at all times throughout the building unless you are exempt.” The theatre has a message on its website saying it was asking all patrons to wear a mask in the theatre, including during the performance, to protect “all our staff, cast and other audience members from Covid.” An announcement and signs up around the building requesting mask wearing reinforced the message.
The Guardian. The Mirror.

Groups highlight priorities for Covid public inquiry

Trade unions, scientists and doctors have joined forces with families bereaved by Covid to highlight issues ranging from public health policy to the supply of face masks and inadequate risk assessments they want addressed by next year’s public inquiry into the UK’s handling of the pandemic. The TUC, the British Medical Association (BMA), the Independent Sage group of scientists and human rights campaigners are presenting a united front with the campaign group Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice to increase pressure on Downing Street to step up preparations for the inquiry. Boris Johnson has yet to announce a chair for the inquiry, after promising the bereaved group he would do so by Christmas, or set out the terms of reference. Covid-19 has claimed nearly 145,000 lives so far, with the statutory inquiry expected to be one of the most extensive and longest public inquisitions in recent history. The alliance is calling for the inquiry to look at measures including pandemic preparation, public health measures, support for frontline workers, inequalities and PPE and procurement. Workplace issues, including PPE shortages and inadequate risk assessments, are also on the list of key concerns. The alliance includes the human rights charity Amnesty International, the National Care Association, which represents independent care homes, health and care union UNISON, the Runnymede Trust, a race equality thinktank, and the housing charity Shelter.
The Guardian. Sky News. Evening Standard.


Amazon ambulance call outs surge ahead of sales

Ambulance callouts for injuries and other health concerns at Amazon warehouses surged almost 50 per cent in the run up to Black Friday on 26 November, research by GMB has revealed. The union used freedom of information requests to obtain monthly data from four ambulance trusts that cover major Amazon sites. Its analysis shows that, over a five-year period, November was the worst month for ambulance callouts. Black Friday – which follows the US Thanksgiving holiday on the last Thursday in November - saw demand for ambulances grew by 46 per cent between October and November alone as the company piled on the pressure to fulfil orders. GMB is calling on the company to enter into urgent talks to address its health and safety record. GMB national officer Mick Rix commenting: “While most people enjoy their Black Friday bargains, Amazon workers are being pushed beyond the limits of human endurance. Each year, ambulance call outs to Amazon sites rocket as workers desperately race to hit their crushing targets.” He added: “The horrific evidence is here in black and white – ambulance crews are called out to Amazon sites almost 50 per cent more in November. Workers are breaking bones, being left in pain at the end of a shift and getting barred from work for raising Covid complaints. Amazon can’t deny it any longer. GMB calls on the Health and Safety Executive to investigate these inhumane working practices.” Rix concluded: “This company is a pandemic profiteer can afford to do better - it’s time for Amazon to sit down with their workers’ union GMB and make Amazon a great, safe place to work.” The GMB’s findings are based on data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from NHS ambulance trusts covering the North West, the East Midlands, London and Wales. A ‘MakeAmazonPay’ campaign saw activities worldwide on 26 November.
GMB news release and related news release. Morning Star.
ITUC news release.

Care staff warn of ‘dangerous’ under-staffing

Nearly a third (31 per cent) of care staff say staffing levels are dangerously low, getting worse and negatively affecting the care provided, a UNISON survey has found. The union says the ‘dangerous situation’ has resulted in the majority of sector’s stressed-out staff considering switching jobs. The findings are based on responses from more than 1,600 care employees and reveal some dying residents are being denied a dignified end to their lives. This is because there are not enough staff to sit with them in their final hours, says the union. An overwhelming majority (97 per cent) of workers say their care employer is currently experiencing staffing shortages with burnout, overwork, and low pay (or better pay elsewhere) among the main reasons cited. Other findings from the survey include two-thirds (67 per cent) of staff saying they are thinking of leaving social care. The union says this is a disastrous but inevitable consequence of poverty wages, low morale and years of chronic underfunding. Of those thinking of leaving, the top reasons staff gave were burnout, stress, mental health and wellbeing (30 per cent), followed by better pay elsewhere or low pay (29 per cent) and compulsory vaccination (14 per cent). Other reasons for wanting to quit included poor treatment by their employer (11 per cent) and overwork due to staffing shortages (10 per cent). UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea commented: “Care workers are leaving in their droves – burnt out from the pandemic, exhausted from covering under-staffed shifts and fed up with low wages.”
UNISON news release.

Danger warning on 'bargain basement' ambulances

An ambulance service is putting staff and patients’ safety at serious risk by using ‘bargain basement’ vehicles, the union GMB has warned. The union believes the Fiat vehicles - which South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) operates alongside its traditional fleet - have a significant safety flaw. It says the seat position has been moved so staff and patients cannot position the seat belt correctly across their collar bone and shoulder. GMB has written to its thousands of Secamb members warning them “not to use the trust’s bargain basement purchases without seeking a personal risk assessment.” The union says its health and safety assessment suggests the incorrectly positioned seatbelts could lead to severe injury, including decapitation. It is calling for the vehicles to be banned for staff and patients until an independent review is conducted proving they are safe to use. Lib Whitfield, GMB organiser, said: “Trusts across the country are trying to cut costs by using these bargain basement vehicles instead of the safer specification Mercedes ambulances - but they are risking lives. These adapted vehicles aren’t safe for running errands – never mind speeding to save someone’s life.” She said the union had raised its concerns repeatedly, but the trust had now ordered over 60 more of the vehicles. “It is simply only a matter of time before someone dies - GMB will not be kept silent by an uncaring employer,” she said. “GMB cannot stand by and wait for someone to lose their life or suffer catastrophic injuries - if Secamb is so certain these vehicles are safe why not allow an independent safety assessment?”
GMB news release.

Rail unions warning on ‘epidemic’ of harassment

Rail unions have called for action to tackle a rise in sexual harassment of passengers and workers on public transport. Commenting on 25 November - International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – RMT said its survey exposed a growing epidemic of sexual harassment. The survey of women public transport workers  - on rail, London Underground, metro, bus and passenger ferry services - found that a ‘massive’ 70 per cent were aware of passengers being sexually harassed on public transport in the last five years, with more than 50 per cent saying they were aware of multiple instances. The survey also found that in the last five years almost half (45 per cent) of women public transport workers had prevented passengers being sexually harassed and 60 per cent had been sexually harassed by a member of the public. Two-thirds of women transport workers who had been sexually harassed by a member of the public did not report the incident, with 70 per cent of those saying this was because they did not think their report would be taken seriously. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “These shocking findings reveal a growing epidemic of sexual harassment on public transport and this must mean an immediate end to the government’s planned staffing cuts across our public transport networks.” He concluded: “In addition to properly staffed public transport networks, there should be more information about how to report sexual harassment on public transport and victims must been given confidence that their reports will be taken seriously with action taken against perpetrators. This also reinforces our long-standing calls for tougher penalties for perpetrators of violence against public transport workers.”
RMT news release.

Proper rail staffing needed to protect women

Rail union TSSA has demanded the UK government make railways safer for female passengers by stopping planned cuts to station staff. The call on the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women came after government research published earlier this year showed that 28 per cent of all sexual harassment incidents took place on the railway system. TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “We know that the best way to make platforms and trains safer for women is for staff to be present at all times. Yet, in the last few months, the Tory government has been deliberately looking to reduce staffing on our railways through a voluntary severance scheme. Worse still, the Department for Transport has so far refused to rule out compulsory redundancies in the future.” The TSSA leader added: “The best way that the government can make sure that our railways continue to be a safe and comfortable place for all passengers is for them to ensure that our rail network is properly staffed at all times.”
TSSA news release.

Court case management system ‘incredibly stressful’

Court staff are feeling ‘at risk, incredibly stressed, overwhelmed and ill’ as a result of a ‘deeply flawed and failing’ Common Platform (CP) case management system, they have told their union PCS. The system introduced in September last year has been beset by technical problems and delays, the union said. A ballot of court staff is now seeking support for wide-ranging PCS demands, including suspension of the CP system, an organisational risk assessment in consultation with the union and suitable and sufficient resources to support individual risk assessments. PCS said it has called on Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to “suspend the use of CP in all courts and urged them to take urgent action to ensure the health, safety and welfare of members is protected.” One lawyer member told the union: “I studied hard and got into debt to be an HMCTS lawyer. I’m now a data entry clerk, working with a system so poor in design it’s making me and colleagues ill. We deliver public disservice, not justice.” Another reported: “I cannot cope working with a system that is so incompatible with my role as a lawyer. The stress is phenomenal. I can cope even less with the constant gaslighting by HMCTS.”
PCS news release.

Tiny fine for workplace asbestos crimes

A builder has been fined just £300 after carrying out a botched asbestos removal job he was not licensed to undertake. Salisbury Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 8 September 2018, Robert Angell undertook work to remove asbestos-containing material while renovating a pub in Trowbridge, Wiltshire. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found he was not licensed to carry out asbestos removal work and failed to take appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the asbestos contamination. The work undertaken exposed employees and neighbouring areas to risks from asbestos. Robert Angell pleaded guilty to three criminal breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. He was fined £300 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs. HSE inspector Ian Whittles commented: “The dangers associated with asbestos, including licensed asbestos, are well-known and a wealth of advice and guidance is freely available from the HSE website. Individuals should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”
HSE news release.

Farm fined after young worker crushed to death

A farming partnership has been fined following an incident where a 21-year-old farm employee was killed whilst dismantling a redundant piece of farming equipment. Folkestone Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 30 April 2019, George Murrell was crushed by a grain drying tunnel at Fishpond Farm in Tonbridge. The J&D Foster Farms LLP employee sustained fatal injuries. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the system of work was intrinsically unsafe. The work involved dismantling the grain drying tunnel whilst working underneath it. The partners failed to ensure the structural integrity of the grain drying tunnel was not compromised as it was dismantled, putting themselves and their employees at significant risk. The structure concertinaed and fell, crushing and killing George Murrell. J&D Foster Farms LLP pleaded guilty to a criminal health and safety offence and was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,731. HSE inspector Joanne Williams commented: “This incident has resulted in a young man losing his life in what was a wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to identify their own competencies in what was basically demolition work.” She added: “Abnormal work on the farm needs to be assessed as to whether the job is within the capability of the farm workers. For demolition work, as in this case, it will likely be safer and more efficient to contract out to professionals who understand the risks associated with demolition and dismantling and can properly plan and carry out the job using the correct equipment.”
HSE news release.


Australia: Support for workers ‘critical’ to Covid recovery

Providing proper income support and time off for workers who fall ill, need to get tested or need to isolate is the most sure-fire way to keep workplaces safe, Australian union federation ACTU has said. The union body’s ‘Making work Covid-safe’ report says paid leave “is the most efficient method of making sure sick workers don’t attend workplaces, and aren’t forced to take time off work without pay.” It adds that Covid-safe practices like ventilation and social distancing, making rapid antigen testing available in workplaces and a properly funded healthcare system are also important in creating and maintaining healthy workplaces and ensuring the community is safe. ACTU assistant secretary Liam O’Brien commented: “Throughout the pandemic, workers have been forced to burn through leave in order to follow health restrictions. This is not only unfair but undermined compliance as workers were forced to choose between meeting their basic needs and following health restrictions. In the case of a third of the workforce in insecure work the absence of any paid leave had very real consequences.” He added: “The government needs to provide straightforward isolation pay and wage subsidy schemes, that will support business and those who work for them that need to take time off to get tested and isolate at home or are impacted by restrictions.”
ACTU news release and report, Support for workers critical to keeping reopening workplaces safe. BBC News Online. ABC News.

Global: Call to end gender-based violence at work

Unions worldwide embarked on 16 days of activism on 25 November to press governments to sign up to a landmark legal standard on the prevention of violence and harassment in the world of work. Global union federation ITUC said so far nine governments have ratified the International Labour Organisation’s Convention 190, with over 20 governments in the process of doing so. Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, said: “While the world has continued to grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic, women have endured a surge in domestic violence and gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work. Even before the pandemic, gender-based violence affected one in three women in their lifetime, with devastating impacts on women’s health, safety and economic independence.” Commenting ahead of the UN’s 25 November International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the global union leader added: “This underpins the urgency for governments across the world to #RatifyC190 and to pursue its effective implementation to end gender-based violence and harassment for millions of women workers.” The ITUC is calling on all governments to follow the nine countries that have ratified C190: Argentina, Namibia, Somalia, Ecuador, Mauritius, Greece, Italy, Uruguay and Fiji. Over 20 governments are in the process of ratification, with France and the UK the latest to have nearly finished the process, while Spain, South Africa, Mexico and Germany have committed to ratifying C190.
ITUC news release and campaign tool kit. EI news release. IFJ news release. IndustriALL news release. ITF news release. IUF news release. PSI news release. ETUC news release.

Russia: Over 50 dead in coal mine fire

Over 50 workers have died in Russia's worst mining disaster in a decade. The incident started when coal dust in a ventilation shaft caught fire on 25 November. Several rescuers are reported to be among the dead. Dozens of miners were unable to escape after the initial incident, but rescue operations had to be suspended after dangerously high levels of methane were detected in the mine, prompting fears of possible explosions. One of the first response rescue teams then failed to emerge from the mine, with five rescuers reported dead. At the time of the incident there were 287 people in the mine, some 3,500km (2,175 miles) east of Moscow. Many managed to get out and 49 people were taken to hospital, some suffering from smoke inhalation. Three people, including the mine director, have been arrested over alleged safety failings. Russia’s coal mines have a poor safety record. In 2016, authorities assessed the safety of the country's 58 coal mines and declared 34 per cent of them potentially unsafe. The list did not include the Listvyazhnaya mine at the time, Russian reports say. Russian president Vladimir Putin describing the loss of life in this mine fire as “a great tragedy.”
BBC News Online. ABC News. New York Times.


TUC Hazards at Work 6th Edition

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