From the TUC

Safety: The ‘union effect’ is as strong as ever

13 Jul 2011, By

You would have thought that if there were a proved way of cutting workplace deaths by a half, and making cutting all injuries by about a quarter then employers and the Government would jump at it.

Well there is and it is called union health and safety representatives.

The TUC has just updated and republished its report on the effect that unions have on health and safety taking into account new research over the past six years and surprise, surprise, the new evidence shows that the Union Effect is just as strong as ever. Among the new research is a government report that claims British Industry saved between £181m and £578m each year as a result of lost time reduction from occupational injuries and work-related illnesses of between 286,000 and 616,000 days as a result of trade union representatives.

Yet in the workplace, instead of finding employers jumping over themselves to encourage union representatives and joint safety committees, health and safety representatives still find it an uphill battle to get their employers to give them access to time off or to consult them. A TUC survey of health and safety representatives showed that time off was the biggest problem for representatives, including time off for training. The survey also found that only 28% of employers automatically consulted their representatives on a frequent basis.

However despite the problems that union health and safety representatives have they still make a massive difference. The real problem is in those workplaces that are not unionised. For several years the TUC has called on the government to give workers in non-unionised workplaces the right to safety representatives and safety committees, but even better than that would be for the government and employers organisations to encourage workers in these workplaces to join a union. Unfortunately, I doubt that is going to happen so instead we are going to have to do it ourselves by using reports like “The Union Effect” to show workers that, if they value their health and their safety they need to join a union!

So use this publication in your workplace, and with any organising and recruitment activity. It really  says it all. The Union Effect can be read or downloaded at the TUC website,  and also don’t forget the report on the union advantage in other areas that the TUC produced in 2009 “The Union Advantage”.