Welcome U-turn on HSE board
Last month the Government appointed an employer to represent workers on the HSE board. This totally undermined the principle of an equal voice for employers and workers that is enshrined in the Health and Safety at Work Act.
The decision caused uproar, with unions, politicians and even a lot of outside observers roundly condemning it. There was even an emergency motion at TUC Congress.
Well, I am pleased that the Government has done a U-turn. After a meeting with TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has said that he will be advertising a new seat for a workers representative, and will “welcome the active engagement” of the TUC. We will shortly be consulted on the recruitment process.
This represents a complete reversal and is a result of the fantastic campaigning that unions and others have done. I hope that, in the future we can put this behind us and work together to protect the health and safety of workers. However it does not change the fact that the original appointment of an employer to represent workers interests should never have been made and, at the time, it showed that the Government just does not understand the importance of unions, or worker involvement. So, while this is a very welcome move, it has to be only the start of the process of getting back to allowing unions to do the job they are there to do which is represent and support workers. That means that the Government and HSE have to ensure that we have proper joint structures that allow us to do that.