From the TUC

Government threat to safety reps – get the message out there!

24 Sep 2015, By

The TUC is running a major campaign against the Trade Union Bill. I have written on it previously on this site, and there is an excellent article from the TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady in the current Hazards Magazine on what it means for health and safety in the workplace.

One of the things that completely shows how the Bill is based on ideology rather than any desire to change things for the better  is that the focus the Government is putting on the number of strikes we have. The right to strike is of course a basic right and is also an important last resort for unions on health and safety when all else fails. It is also at one of the lowest levels for decades.

What the Government is completely ignoring is the real problem at work, which is not the 0.8 million days lost through strike action but  the 28.2 million days lost every year through injuries and injuries that are caused by work. These are all preventable, and the best way to prevent them? Having trade union health and safety representatives in the workplace. Union health and safety representation halves the number of serious injuries. It is therefore mindboggling that the Government are trying to restrict the ability of union health and safety representatives to do their work by telling employers in the public sector that they must cut back on the time that representatives are given to undertake inspections, meet with employers, and help protect everyone in the workplace (whether they are a union member or not).

The TUC has produced a simple infographic that illustrates the government approach. It comes in various forms for use in social media or tmply printed off and put on a notice board. It highlights the number of days lost, taken from HSE statistics, the number of days lost through strike action from the Government’s ONS, and finally the effect that unions have in the workplace in reducing serious injuries, which you can find in the TUC report “The Union Effect”.

Please circulate them as widely as possible. You can print off the poster and put it up in your workplace, send out the Twitter version, and post the Facebook one. Also go to to find out more about why you should be concerned and of course – what you can do about it.

6 Responses to Government threat to safety reps – get the message out there!

  1. Rod Cuming
    Sep 24th 2015, 6:20 pm

    Back to the bad old days with this awful govt. Willing to throw away what in the good majority of cases is a spirit of partnership with many good firms. A totally unjustified move.

  2. Billy Mc Ewan
    Sep 24th 2015, 7:52 pm

    I keep seeing safety reps rights are in danger. I have never seen any mention of SRSC’s being eroded. Please don’t confuse facility time with a safety reps rights to carry out their legal function. The more employers see and hear trade unions speak about facility time regarding safety reps the more likely they are to say well “your the ones that kept on about safety reps and facility time” thus weakening our safety reps place in the workplace. I should point out that I am a safety rep (GMB) and that I have been on every safety course that the TUC deliver.

  3. Barry Hardy
    Sep 25th 2015, 6:47 am

    I am a public sector worker and have been a safety rep for 11 years. To a degree I agree with Billy. A problem will arise if this government are actually intent on attacking our legal rights. However, if my employer decides to act in a way that would undermine H&S the recourse is to go to the membership and ask for support. That would be the problem if this bill goes through in my view. Having recourse through the courts may also be stymied by whatever this government are planning to do. Stop this bill.

  4. Hugh Robertson

    Hugh Robertson
    Sep 25th 2015, 8:44 am

    Billy, it is not us that is confusing facility time with safety reps carrying out their legal functions, it is the Government. The Trade Union Bill specifically put the regulations made under the health and safety at Work Act (The SRSC Regs) under what they call “facility time”. The TUC has always said that time off to undertake your functions as a health and safety representative is not facility time and you are entitled to take off such time as you require. However clause 13 of the Trade Union Bill allows the Government to restrict that in the public sector.

  5. Billy Mc Ewan
    Sep 25th 2015, 9:08 am

    Over the years Hugh I have heard safety reps continually refer to time off as facility time and now it is trying to come back to us and bite us in the bum. Yes we must fight this shocking attack on TU rights with all of our resources. My point is safety reps need to be constantly reminded of their rights.It’s a TU weakness that should be remedied at source i.e training and support from the various TU’s. TU’s do not do enough to support safety reps in my experience.

  6. Hugh Robertson

    Hugh Robertson
    Sep 25th 2015, 9:12 am

    Absolutely Billy, I could not agree more about reminding safety representatives that the requirement on the employer to give them paid time off to carry out their functions is not facility time but a legal requirement that is non-negotiable.