In a move that is being seen by many USRs in the CWU as a total insult, the Union has decided that the contributions made to this Union, by its safety reps will NOT be included for recognition in the newly launched CWU National Awards scheme culminating in a National Awards Evening!
Whilst there is absolute justification for recognising the work done in the categories for the award as detailed below and right, it would be wrong to argue that the work done by USRs is any less valuable to the CWU. But that appears to be the case!
Contrary to this, last year the TUC celebrated 40 years of safety reps:
The Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 is the primary piece of regulation covering union health and safety representatives and is, along with the parent act, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, one of the most important pieces of legislation for unions working on health and safety. It has also had a huge effect in saving lives and preventing injury and illness.
With Brexit looming and a hostile and aggressive Tory Government in power, this legislation and USRs are under a great threat. The Union's Safety Reps and the Health & Safety Dept will have its work cut out!
The TUC used the 40th anniversary of the regulations to celebrate our Union Health and Safety Representatives, and their website celebrating USRs, included a case study and celebration of the work of four CWU's ASRs; Andy McArthur Roy Apps, Anthony Gavin Pearce, and Malcolm Woods. Download it here and read about their work.
Despite this, quite clearly the message from CWU HQ is that Health & Safety is not an important enough issue for the Union to recognise the work, often in their own personal time; of our 'volunteer' CWU safety reps!
In many Branches our Safety Reps and Safety Officers are THE face of the CWU as our members often see more of them than they do ordinary Branch reps and Officers. This is not in anyway criticising Branches, it is a sheer fact given the legal backing in the USRSC Regulations which protect the facilities of Union Safety Reps which allows them to interface with Union members far more freely and by necessity.
Indeed in one large Branch of the CWU in the North West, many of the Four Pillars Campaign 'Gate meetings' were facilitated and delivered by it's safety reps.
The Letter to all Branches announcing the new awards scheme was sent by CWU's General Secretary Dave Ward in the form of LTB109/18:
The CWU will be hosting the inaugural CWU National Awards Evening 2018 on Monday 23rd April at the Marsham Court Hotel, Bournemouth.
So why is it that CWU safety reps are being excluded from the nomination categories for an award?
Despite questions to this effect being asked of Dave Ward, no response to date has been forthcoming.
So why do USRs deserve to be recognised?
Well, a number have been TUC Safety Rep of the Year for a start.
As far back as 2005 CWU's Barry Gapes (London City West) was the winner of the prestigious TUC Safety Rep's Award and was recognised by ALL affiliated TRade Unions for the work he had done for health and safety in the name of this Union.
Two year's later, in 2007 CWU Birmingham Branch's Pete Eggleston was named as winner of the TUC Safety Rep's award, again in recognition of his work for the Union.
In 2008 The CWU's Chris Wesson (Birmingham Engineering Branch) was named as winner of the TUC Safety Rep's Award by TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber.
Again in 2008, CWU Area Health and Safety Representative Sean Doherty won the Health and Safety Executive of Northern Ireland/Irish Congress of Trade Unions Health and Safety Representatives Award.
The issues Safety Reps deal with are vast and especially in industries where work related stress, anxiety and depression, sick-absence leading to threats of unemployment, workplace bullying, discrimination, accidents and injuries and sadly even suicide has affected our membership, many safety reps are dealing not only with individuals, but their families and often are involved in the legal cases involved.
Indeed many safety reps give their own personal and unpaid time to their members and even the wider community in which they live. That also includes in many cases the use of their own money too, or even providing sanctuary for members who cannot otherwise escape the immediate threat to their safety and welfare.
Furthermore, campaigns such as Dangerous Dogs which USRs across the Union are supporting and has resulted in the highest profile for the CWU within the TUC, the HSE and among charities dealing with both animal welfare and changing the law to stop the appalling injuries and loss of life caused by the owners of dangerous dogs. Indeed, if it were not for the CWU lobbying of its sponsored MPs, the campaign to change the law would never have succeeded as quickly as it did.
The recent Tyred Campaign to ban tyres on public vehicles older than ten years is another classic example of a campaign the CWU Health and Safety Reps are getting behind at Branch and National level. Indeed, it was a Branch H&S officer in the North West who working with the campaign, highlighted the campaign to CWU H&S Dept and got the Union behind the campaign.
As a result of pressure and public awareness campaigns by CWU safety Reps in the North West, schools have been contacted, bus companies and coach companies to alert them to the need for laws to be changed and in the meantime to ensure that over ten year old tyres cannot be used on public vehicles. Schools have signed up to confirming they won't use coach companies who do not guarantee the age of their vehicle tyres and so have bus companies confirmed they do not and will not use over ten year old tyres. Indeed they all have age limits far younger than that for their vehicle tyres.
Support for the changing of the law and our NW MPs who are introducing measures in Parliament despite the Tory Government's refusal to take the issue seriously is spear headed by CWU Safety Reps.
Road Safety Campaigns, dangerous dogs campaign resources, mobile phone use in vehicles, agreements with Royal Mail, Parcel Force, and BT covering issues as wide as insect bites, PPE, working from heights, mental health, pregnancy and menopausal issues
But of course these examples are not good enough for Safety Reps to be recognised by the Unions national award scheme!
The majority of non-USRs don't have a clue about these details and often think all USRs do is tick off a form and wonder around buildings aimlessly.
On the other hand, CWU members know only too well just what they do and how important their Union Safety Rep is to them, especially as many have been saved from unemployment, long-term sickness and prolonged mental health problems; as a direct result of support and intervention by their Union Safety Rep.
The CWU Safety Rep is extremely important to other Branch Officers too and is often called in to provide advice and support on issues that other Officers are not expert in, nor need they be. Our safety reps are among the best educated in the Trade Union movement, and as mentioned earlier, the TUC recognise that.
The HSE has applauded the work of USRs and has publicly stated that in workplaces were Trade Union Safety Reps are active, there are 50% less accidents and injuries to their employees.
But many feel that when you consider the changes taking place within the CWU, it seem to point to the lack of respect for the work CWU USRs do and the diminishing importance of Health and Safety in general held by CWU HQ; this exclusion of CWU H&S Reps from the new, almost corporate, National Awards Scheme is just one more nail in the coffin of health and safety in general within the CWU.
Source: CWU / TUC