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



We need a safe return to workplaces, says TUC

Employers must consult with unions to ensure any return to the workplace is safe, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on the prime minister’s announcement of the lifting of all Plan B restrictions from this week. In a 19 January statement to the Commons, prime minister Boris Johnson said: “From now, the government is no longer asking people to work from home and people should now speak to their employers about arrangements for returning to the office. And having looked at the data carefully, the Cabinet concluded that once regulations lapse, the government will no longer mandate the wearing of face masks anywhere.” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady commented: “We need a safe return to workplaces. Employers must consult with staff and unions on working arrangements - including flexible working options. And bosses must carry out proper risk assessments and improve ventilation.”  On the decision to end compulsory face coverings in shops and on public transport, the TUC leader said: “Face coverings have been proven to reduce the spread of Covid. Making them optional on public transport and in shops at this stage in the pandemic is premature and will put workers at risk.” She added that ministers had again failed to address the issue of a failing sick pay system. “Ministers must fix our broken sick pay system once and for all,” O’Grady said. “The government is asking people to return to their workplaces but is offering them little or no financial support if they become ill. Sick pay must be raised to at least the rate of the real Living Wage and available to all.” Scotland’s work from home rules are also being relaxed from 31 January.
Prime minister’s statement, 19 January 2022, and related slides and datasets. Morning Star. BBC News Online.

People must have confidence their workplace is safe

People must have confidence their workplace is safe as the UK government presses for a return to normality, the TUC general secretary has said. Writing in PoliticsHome, Frances O’Grady was commenting on the UK government announcement that Plan B restrictions “would be lifted from the 24 January, allowing for a greater return to normal life.” But she said “this ‘new normal’ has exposed new problems,” including staffing shortages, a pay freeze and problems arising from the “broken sick pay system.” The TUC leader said the government should build on the “undoubted success” of the furlough scheme and “set up a permanent short-time working scheme means that workers and companies have no protection against sudden shocks to demand – such as those which may come from a future variant or the transition to net zero.” The TUC’s six-point plan to make sure the new normal is “better and fairer” includes the “issue of workplace safety. Workers need to have confidence that where they work is safe. After years of cuts, the Health and Safety Executive and other enforcement bodies need the resources to crack down on bad bosses who put staff and communities at risk.”
TUC news release. PoliticsHome.

Employers ‘must not let their guard down’

UNISON is urging employers not to let their guard down on workplace Covid-19 safety, but to continue to comply with health and safety legislation, including their duties to identify and reduce risks for their employees. The public sector union was commenting as UK nations prepared to remove some or all Covid-19 restrictions in the coming days and weeks. Safety legislation lays out requirements that employers must regularly review risk assessments, consult with union health and safety representatives and be ready to put additional measures in place. UNISON national officer for health and safety Kim Sunley said: “Regardless of what Covid laws and guidance are in place, employers still have a duty to identify and reduce the risks to both the health and safety of employees whilst they are at work.” She continued: “Covid infection can still cause severe harm to health and the risk of transmission varies depending on levels of infection in the community, the type of work activity being carried out and workplace outbreaks. And, as per the legislation, the higher the risk, the more preventative measures that employers need to put in place. This means that employers should be prepared to take further measures if the risk of transmission increases in their workplaces.” She concluded: “In the words of Dr Tedros, director general of the World Health Organisation [WHO], ‘no country can boost its way out of the pandemic’. While vaccination is really important, it should not be at the cost of all other workplace protections.” Commenting after the prime minister’s 19 January announcement that plan B precautions were to end in England, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Rather than allowing a free-for-all, ministers should be urging caution and encouraging ​continued mask-wearing on transport, in public places and in schools, where it c​an still make a real difference.”

UNISON news release and earlier news release. APPG on Covid news release. Morning Star.

Government must consult on return to work

Government departments must consult health and safety reps over a workplace return, the civil service union PCS has said. The union made the call after the UK government announced the end of Covid plan B restrictions in England. Mask wearing will no longer be mandatory in certain settings and the ‘work from home if you can’ message has been dropped. The union met the Cabinet Office on 20 January, the day after the prime minister’s announcement, to discuss what the changes in government policy mean for members working for the UK civil service in England. PCS has demanded that departments should consult unions and health and safety reps on any plans for a return to the workplace. “The PCS position remains consistent – given the ongoing threat from Covid (resulting in hundreds of deaths a day), and applying health and safety principles, it is safer for staff to work from home where they can. PCS accepts though that for some people with wellbeing or domestic issues going into a workplace is the lesser risk,” a PCS statement said. “Currently the DWP is an outlier compared to the rest of the UK civil service, as it is planning for a return to the workplace by the end of February in England. We are opposing such a return.” In the wake of several press stories that minister for the Cabinet Office, Stephen Barclay, and prime minister Boris Johnson had declared that civil servants will now be forced to return to workplaces, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka reiterated: “There must be negotiations on workplace safety arrangements with the unions before any changes are made.”
PCS news release and follow up news release.

Civil servants deserve respect

Press reports claiming UK government ministers want civil servants to “return to the office” to “show an example to the private sector” neglects the need for a planned, negotiated system, Prospect has said. Garry Graham, the union’s deputy general secretary, said: “To suggest that staff have not been working hard whilst working from home is a nonsense not borne out by the facts. Working hours have increased - and in fact many staff feel they have been ‘living at work’ with increased levels of stress and burnout.” He added: “It is Prospect’s expectation that government employers will indeed be leading by example, not by mandating arbitrary place of work requirements but by taking an approach based on balancing operational requirements with the needs of staff. I will not be taking lectures on hard work from someone whose definition of a work event appears to involve cheese, wine and a garden.” He said Prospect surveys show its members “value the opportunity and flexibility of hybrid working,” noting: “Through a pragmatic and managed approach we can develop a world of work where everyone benefits.”
Prospect news release.

Health warning on lack of school lateral flow tests

Nearly a third (32 per cent) of school support and nursery staff say their employers are unable to provide them with enough lateral flow tests to do the recommended twice-weekly checks, the union UNISON has said. Its survey of more than 2,300 school support staff – including teaching assistants, administrators and cleaners – revealed they were unable to follow government guidance for twice-weekly tests as their school did not have an adequate supply of kits. That means many were going into school not knowing if they carried the virus, said UNISON. The findings were released on 20 January, the day after the government announced the lifting of requirements for face coverings in schools. In primary schools, more than a third (37 per cent) said they were without sufficient lateral flow kits. In early years settings, it was half (51 per cent). Of those unable to get hold of enough tests at work, more than six in ten (63 per cent) said they couldn’t get tests locally or online either. UNISON head of education Mike Short said: “Schools and nurseries up and down the country have been struggling with high absence rates, and a poor supply of tests only makes things worse. The government needs to look urgently at what is happening. Despite ministers’ guarantees that there were no shortages of tests, the reality on the ground is that staff don’t have enough.” He added: “Given the current high rates of infection, the decision to remove face masks in schools is reckless. It’s vital that staff are provided with tests to try to minimise the risk of the virus spreading.”
UNISON news release. Morning Star.

Mitigations could have headed off schools spike

Rising Covid-related absences in schools will mean increasing disruption to education and could have been avoided by better mitigation efforts, teaching union NEU has said. Commenting on the Department for Education (DfE) attendance and Covid-related data for education settings published on 25 January, NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “Covid-related absences have risen again, with 415,000 pupils absent due to Covid on 20 January including one in 16 primary pupils. A quarter of schools now have at least 15 per cent of teachers and school leaders absent, causing further disruption as we move into 2022. With coronavirus cases continuing to rise among school age children this disruption is going to get worse over coming weeks.” He added: “The DfE could have avoided much of this disruption by investing in ventilation and air filtration to suppress case numbers whilst vaccination is rolled out and these measures would have been made more effective by maintaining mask wearing.”
NEU news release.

Union welcomes mitigations in Welsh schools

Teaching union NEU has welcomed a Welsh government announcement on continuing mitigations in the country’s schools. Commenting on the 25 January written statement by education minister Jeremy Miles, David Evans, Wales secretary of NEU Cymru, said: “NEU Cymru members will be pleased to hear that the minister has taken the sensible step of keeping face coverings in place for secondary school children, in line with everyone still wearing them in busy places in Wales.” He added: “We know it has been a challenging time for everyone in education, but keeping staff and students safe with minimal disruption must be the priority. Ventilation is absolutely critical – and with cold weather it is vitally important that schools have as much support as possible from local authorities to ensure they have access to any maintenance support or air filtration they need.”
NEU Cymru news release. Welsh government statement.

Long Covid hitting NHS staff hard

NHS trusts in England lost nearly 2m days in staff absences due to long Covid in the first 18 months of the pandemic, according to figures that reveal the hidden burden of ongoing illness in the health service. MPs on the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on coronavirus estimate that more than 1.82m days were lost to healthcare workers with long Covid from March 2020 to September 2021 across England’s 219 NHS trusts. The estimate is based on data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from 70 NHS trusts and does not include the impact of the highly transmissible Omicron variant that has fuelled record-breaking waves of infection in the UK and globally since it was first detected in November. Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP who chairs the APPG, said the government had paid “almost no attention to long Covid and the severe impact it was having on vital public services” and called for immediate support for those affected. “Thousands of frontline workers are now living with an often debilitating condition after being exposed to the virus while protecting this country,” she said. “They cannot now be abandoned.” The Office for National Statistics estimates that 1.3 million people, or 2 per cent of the population, are living with long Covid, based on people self-reporting symptoms that last more than a month after a Covid infection. More than half a million have had symptoms for at least a year, with ailments ranging from breathlessness, fatigue and a cough to muscle aches and pains, “brain fog”, headaches and palpitations.
The Guardian.

Welcome for new Covid-19 guidance for healthcare

A broad-based coalition of health care organisations has welcomed new government guidelines recognising the high level protection that should be provide to health care staff. For the last 16 months the Covid Airborne Protection Alliance (CAPA) – which includes several health care unions - has been campaigning to influence infection prevention control (IPC) guidance to ensure that all healthcare workers can access the right level of respiratory protective equipment to protect them from Covid-19. The campaign said it has been pressing for health care employers “to meet their legal responsibilities as laid out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 etc for ensuring the safety of the healthcare workforce through the provision of appropriate respiratory protective equipment (RPE).” Evidence collated by the campaign shows over 30 NHS Trusts across the UK are already providing staff with appropriate levels of respiratory protective equipment (RPE), including the higher protection FFP3 masks unions have been demanding through the pandemic. CAPA said it was pleased the UK government has now updated two set of guidance to reflect the need for these more protective respirators.  Dr Barry Jones, the chair of CAPA, said: “I’m delighted that the new IPC [infection prevention control] guidance makes it clear that healthcare workers can have access to enhanced levels of respiratory protective equipment without being restricted to the current list of aerosol generating procedures (AGPs) which is no longer relevant.” He said updated Cabinet Office guidance published on 19 January was more helpful still, recognising explicitly the risk of airborne transmission of Covid-19. “We are pleased the Cabinet Office guidance explicitly states that Covid-19 is spread by airborne transmission, close contact via droplets, and via surfaces. Airborne transmission is a very significant way that the virus circulates,” he said. Professor Kevin Bampton, the CEO of the worker health protection professionals’ organisation BOHS said: “System leaders now need to mobilise their health and safety and IPC leads to ensure appropriate risk assessments are carried out and the right level of RPE is provided in a safe and effective manner. This includes ensuring that fit-testing for FFP3 is available, and reusable FFP3 equivalent masks can also be accessed.”
BDA news release. BOHS news release. Updated infection prevention control (IPC) guidance and Cabinet Office guidance.

Cuts leave fire and rescue workers at infection risk

Parts of the North East of England, which government statistics show has had some of the worst recent Covid hotspots for Omicron, are continuing to report fire service shortages as Covid hits the service. Firefighters’ union FBU said figures in its possession reveal that across the region, 11 per cent of fire and rescue service staff are off on sick leave. Firefighter crew levels in two further areas of the North East were being “impacted” by Covid, according to FBU regional secretary Brian Harris. He explained: “Covid is hitting the fire and rescue service hard, with fire engines left out of use in their stations – but this is entirely avoidable. A fire and rescue service with sufficient levels of staffing and decent levels of resilience would be able to continue past these challenges. But across the country we’ve had one in every five firefighters cut since 2010 as financial constraints have hit, so we aren’t in that position.” He added: “It’s entirely unclear how the government thinks it is acceptable to have a fire and rescue service with such a low level of resilience. Fire and rescue services are doing the best they can with limited resources, and it’s time the government steps up to the mark.”
FBU news release.

Concern at ‘flip-flopping’ on shop face coverings

Retail trade union Usdaw has expressed deep disappointment at the UK government decision to end the mandatory wearing of face covering in shops in England from 27 January. Paddy Lillis, the Usdaw general secretary, said: “We are deeply concerned that the decision to again end mandatory face coverings in shops is more to do with saving the prime minister’s job than Covid safety.” He added: “It beggars belief that the government chose to dismiss the concerns of our members and many workers who are desperately worried about restrictions being lifted while case numbers remain high. We understand that the government has to scale back ‘Plan B’, but surely this should be done in a more measured and gradual manner.” He said instead the government had “subcontracted responsibility for safety out to the public, which is a recipe for confusion and Covid. Protection for retail workers through wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing in busy public areas like shops should be backed up by the law.” The retail union leader urged shoppers “to show their support and respect for shopworkers by continuing to wear a face covering, observe hand hygiene and maintain social distancing when in store.” Retailers Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and John Lewis announced this week they would be asking shoppers to keep wearing masks. Face coverings continue to be mandatory when shopping in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Usdaw news release and update. BBC News Online.

TSSA backs face coverings call on public transport

A call from London mayor Sadiq Khan that face coverings should remain compulsory on Transport for London (TfL) services and the wider transport network, has been backed by TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes. Their comments came after the announcement from the UK government that England's Plan B measures would end and with them the mandatory face coverings in public places and Covid passports requirements. Cortes said: “As ever our union puts public health first and we know that face coverings help reduce transmission of the virus and will give the public confidence on public transport. It’s vital our brave transport members who have been on the frontline of this pandemic continue to feel they are protected. It’s also important we do all that is reasonable to get people back onto public transport in London and elsewhere so that we can build a clean, green recovery from this virus.” The TSSA leader added: “Sadiq Khan is spot on when he says face coverings should remain beyond the end of Plan B, especially given the rates of infection we are still seeing. Clearly the government should back this, not only for London but across the rest of our public transport network.” The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies, said operators will still ask passengers to wear masks after the 27 January government policy change takes effect and said it expected most would comply.
TSSA news release. Mayor of London news release. BBC News Online.

Union welcomes Belly Mujinga inquest

Rail union TSSA has welcomed confirmation that a public inquest into the death of Belly Mujinga will be held this summer. The TSSA member worked in Victoria Station in central London and died from Covid-19 in April 2020. She had reportedly been shouted at, coughed and spat on by a customer on the concourse shortly before she contracted the virus. She left behind a husband and young daughter. Andrew Walker, senior coroner for North London, announced that the inquest will start on 27 June 2022 and will last for up to seven days. Manuel Cortes, TSSA general secretary, said: “We warmly welcome confirmation of dates for the inquest into Belly Mujinga’s death. Her family, friends and colleagues have been waiting almost two years for justice.” The TSSA leader added: “Our union stands shoulder to shoulder with Belly’s family and colleagues. Her death sent shock and sadness across our railway family and much further, in fact her story touched the world. We hope that the inquiry will reveal the truth of what happened to Belly and provide comfort for her family. It is vital that all frontline workers – in transport, health and all parts of our economy – are protected from this awful virus which is still claiming lives.”
TSSA news release.

Covid sick pay non-payment strike threat

GMB is warning private contractor G4S that denying full sick pay to hospital workers may result in strike action. The outsourcing giant, which holds the cleaning and portering contract with Croydon University Hospital NHS Trust, has stopped paying Covid sick pay to employees, leaving workers reliant on statutory sick pay of under £100 a week. GMB members are set to protest against the denial of sick pay outside the hospital at noon on 31 January. Helen O’Connor, GMB regional organiser, said: “Our members are understandably worried about catching Covid and spreading the virus around the hospital to patients and other members of NHS staff. They could do without any additional fears about being able to pay their bills and put food on the table.” She added: “Workers are urging GMB not only to arrange the protest  - but to ballot for strike action. GMB calls on Croydon University hospital to intervene to protect the welfare of these employees, and avoid any industrial action.”
GMB news release.


Prospect member wins stress dismissal tribunal

A Prospect member suffering work-related anxiety and depression who was dismissed on capability grounds has received a five-figure settlement on the brink of his employment tribunal hearing. The worker, whose name has not been released, had worked for his employer for over 30 years when he was diagnosed with anxiety and depression as a result of workplace bullying and harassment. He had to go on extended sick leave in 2017. Successive reports from occupational health advised that he would not be able to return to work until his workplace environment was changed. His employer had originally agreed to move him away from his managers, but later reneged on the decision and no reasonable adjustments were offered. He was dismissed for sickness absence in 2019. Prospect presented a claim to the tribunal for disability discrimination and unfair dismissal in 2019, with the case due to be heard in January 2022. On the last working day before the hearing a settlement was agreed. The Prospect member said: “Whilst I will always be saddened and disappointed in the way I was treated by my employer, and by the loss of the career I loved, I am grateful for the support I received. Ultimately, Prospect was the only defence I had against an uncaring management.” He was represented by Prospect legal officer Linda Sohawon. She said “it is so frustrating that our member had this whole issue hanging over his head for two and a half years waiting for the hearing. Cases like this illustrate the importance of trade union membership, wherever you work to make sure you have access to the best possible advice and representation if you ever need it.”
Prospect news release.

'Mentally destroyed' teacher was unfairly dismissed

A school has been ordered to pay £130,000 to a former teacher who was forced out of her job due to management’s response to her crippling bowel condition leaving her “mentally destroyed.” An employment tribunal ordered The District CofE Primary School, in Newton-le-Willows, and St Helens Council to compensate Alison Davin for loss of earnings, injury to feelings and aggravated damages. The teacher of more than 23 years was dismissed on medical grounds in May 2019, with school leadership claiming there was no reasonable prospect of her being able to return to work. The tribunal earlier concluded she had been unfairly sacked by head teacher Lavern Shelford, and chair of the governing body Frank Maguire, who had pursued an “exit agenda” to get rid of her in an effort to reduce sickness absences. Ms Davin had been forced to take sick leave due to flare ups of a severe form of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which caused pain so severe it resulted in hospitalisation and at times left her needing to go to the toilet 10 times a day. However the tribunal heard Ms Davin's doctors, and the school's own occupational health team, concluded she would likely be able to return in the near future once her condition had stabilised. At a hearing to decide the amount of compensation owed, lawyers for the local authority and school suggested Ms Davin had not tried hard enough to find new work, an argument rejected by the tribunal.
Liverpool Echo.

Anonymous tool for VOA harassment reporting

‘Shocking accounts’ of sexual harassment of workers at a government agency (Risks 1012) have led to the introduction of a new tool for reporting incidents anonymously. Civil service union PCS, working with the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), has developed the resource to support staff uncomfortable using official reporting processes. The union said: “After colleagues disclosed shocking accounts of sexual harassment whist carrying out their roles PCS immediately sought meetings with VOA to look at the current Sexual Harassment Policy and why there are so few documented cases. The VOA has now, through joint working with PCS, developed an anonymous tool to support staff in reporting any incidents. The tool offers anonymity as the fear of reprisals or further abuse was what members told us prevented them from making formal complaints. The tool is not only for reporting incidents of a sexual nature but any instances where members do not feel comfortable with reporting using official procedures, for example bullying and harassment.” The union concluded: “This is another example of PCS listening to our membership and working together, we are pleased with the approach the VOA has taken as it demonstrates that they are serious about the welfare of all staff across the agency.”
PCS news release.

Workload victory for college staff

Staff at West London College have won action to address soaring stress and workloads after successful negotiations between management and the unions UCU and UNISON. The deal also includes a commitment by the college to becoming a London Living Wage employer, a pay rise, shorter working week, additional holiday and hybrid working. The employer has set up a joint working party with UCU and UNISON to agree ways to reduce workloads, and to agree a college policy on mental health and wellbeing. UCU London regional official Adam Lincoln said: “Other employers who have not reached an agreement with UCU for 2021/22 should look to West London College and work with staff on improving pay and workloads, rather than forcing them to contemplate strike action.”
UCU news release.

Teacher needed new wrist after school fall

An Essex teacher, whose passion for playing music and hobby of riding motorbikes was ruined after a fall in the classroom 11 years ago, has received a ‘significant’ settlement with the help of her union, NASUWT. Ingrid Leatherdale was a maths and music teacher at an Essex secondary school when she fell while having to balance precariously on a chair and table to turn on a projector during a lesson. The teacher underwent nine operations over a 10-year period to ease the pain and was one of the first UK patients to receive a wrist replacement. However, the operations and wrist replacement failed to relieve the pain totally and, eventually, she had no choice but to have her wrist fused in August 2020. Kam Singh, of Thompsons Solicitors, the law firm brought in by NASUWT to act in the case, said: “Due to the complex nature of Mrs Leatherdale’s injuries and the ongoing medical interventions, the case could not be settled until we understood the long-term health impact for her and how much compensation properly recognised that impact and all she had been through.” Patrick Roach, the NASUWT general secretary, said: “We are here to do our best for members, no matter how long it takes. This pay out gives Mrs Leatherdale options and that gives Mrs Leatherdale long-term financial reassurance after the loss of a career in music that she cherished.”
Thompsons Solicitors news release.

HSE finds two-thirds of firms guilty of safety crimes

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection blitz has found almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of business inspected were in criminal breach of health and safety law. The watchdog said during the week-long initiative in South Yorkshire inspectors served three prohibition notices, 31 improvement notices and a further 23 companies were written to – but did not indicate it intended to start any prosecutions. “With its South Yorkshire inspection campaign drawing to its conclusion, the Health and Safety Executive has found that 65 per cent of businesses visited were in breach of the law,” the regulator said. Inspectors visited 71 businesses in the Sheffield and Rotherham area. The inspection blitz, which ran from 10 January, found 46 companies “needed to make improvements to better protect the health, safety and wellbeing of workers in metal fabrication, engineering, general manufacturing and waste and recycling sectors.” Examples of some of the breaches found included poor controls of welding fumes and metal working fluids. Andrew Denison, HSE’s acting head of operations, said: “Protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of workers is of paramount importance and at the heart of what we do. The high proportion of breaches identified during this initiative indicates that the risks were not being adequately controlled.” He added: “Inspectors have taken robust proportionate action to deal with serious risks and to ensure companies are complying with the law. I hope businesses will take note and understand that they will be held to account if they fail in their responsibilities.”
HSE news release and earlier news release.

Fatal fall through asbestos roof leads to fine

A company has been sentenced after a Romanian employee of a Powys construction company was fatally injured in Liverpool when he fell six metres while working on a replacement roof project. The prosecution came almost a year after the building owner was fined for criminal safety offences relating to the death of roofer Marius Andrus, 36. Liverpool Crown Court heard that on 22 May 2017, the AJM Services (Midlands) Ltd employee was completing snagging work on a replacement roof when he fell through a fragile asbestos panel. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the area accessed did not have safety nets fitted and that the employer failed to take reasonably practicable measures to reduce the risk to those working on the roof. The firm pleaded guilty to a criminal breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £51,000 plus £5,000 costs. Pearsons Glass, the owner of the building, pleaded guilty to a criminal safety breach at an earlier hearing and were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court in February 2021 (Risks 984). The company was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,656.
HSE news release.


Guide to supporting union safety reps

Greater Manchester Hazards Centre (GMHC) has published a new guide for union safety reps. Launching ‘Supporting our elected trade union safety representatives’, GMHC worker Janet Newsham said: “It is about providing trade unions with information about taking a more proactive approach to supporting safety reps.” GMHC has taken examples of good practice from organisations at national, regional, branch and workplace level and responded to some of the concerns raised by reps at the Hazards Campaign Thursday talk drop ins. “Safety reps have been on the frontline supporting workers working from home and preventing Covid transmission in workplaces,” the GMHC worker said. “At this time, when government are all but abandoning workers and employers from preventing widespread infections across the country, safety reps must be supported by their trade unions. Most trade unions have put in place online training, many have held online safety reps meetings but there is more that can and should be done. Safety reps have suffered from continual pressure from confusing government guidance, inadequate mitigation or enforcement of mitigation and many suffering from bereavements and mental and physical exhaustion. Trade unions must do all they can to provide additional support for safety reps. This booklet provides information and ideas to help trade unions support safety reps.”
Supporting our elected trade union safety representatives, GMHC guide, January 2022. Hazards Campaign publication alert.


Global: Fishing firm accused of safety and labour abuses

A major operator of fishing vessels has been accused of failing to provide compensation to a fisher who died in an accident at work and of labour abuses including forced labour, crew abandonment and unpaid wages. Global union federation ITF said the UK based seafood buyer J Marr has profited from the supply chain labour abuses. Inspectors working for ITF, which represents fishers and seafarers around the world, have been forced to intervene in a number of serious labour abuses by Pescatlant, the company which owns vessels. The allegations are being made by the inspectors against Pescatlant Ltd, who supply J Marr (Seafoods) Ltd, a major UK fisheries company based in Hull, and a subsidiary of Andrew Marr International Ltd. Although J Marr have been communicating and cooperating with the ITF to investigate the situation, the global union’s inspectors say the company has not done enough. They add J Marr needs to adopt mechanisms to ensure there are no abuses towards fisheries workers in their supply chain. Chris Williams, an ITF fisheries expert, said: “If these labour violations are taking place on vessels who sell to UK buyers, and are taking place in European ports - then it is clear that this problem is widespread and UK companies need to take action to ensure that their supply chains and profit margins do not include the use of forced labour.”
ITF news release.


TUC Hazards at Work 6th Edition

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