Whilst the TUC strongly supports Health & Safety and the HSE applauds union safety reps, the CWU appears to be contemplating the arbitrary abolition of it's independent Health, Safety and Environment Dept and hence the diminishing of the Health Safety and Welfare of it's members in terms of priorities and resourcing as a result.
In the view of the CWU Health & Safety Community talking to Unionsafety, the future plans for Health and Safety within the CWU may well have already been decided by CWU HQ and that any strategy document on it's future may contain the following aims:
1. The merger of the Health and Safety Dept with that of another Dept and, under a different National Officer; possibly Legal and Medical or Equality Dept or even the Education Dept.
2. All national issues concerning Health & Safety may be dealt with by Industrial Officers and Executives alone.
The sudden and unannounced removal of Health & Wellbeing from it's specialist home of the Health & Safety Dept by the T&FS national officers is seen by the community as just the start of this plan!
3. At Regional level there is a view that Health & Safety structures will may be removed; the various constituency Health & Safety Forums which in the T&FS constituency are unfunded by CWU HQ and therefore have no impact on the Union's finances could be abandoned.
4. Area Safety Reps may well be abolished as a result of the ending of Regional Structures.
5. At Branch level - all H&S issues may then be dealt with by Industrial Relations Officers and Reps.
6. The specialist training of Health & Safety reps could then be abandoned.
7. Healthy & Safety Reps responsibilities could then be taken by Branch Reps and Branch Health & Safety Officers cease to exist.
8. Training of Branch Officers and Reps could then include a basic health & safety element thereby cutting Education costs.
Such a scenario is not so far fetched when you consider the Union's General Secretary's presentation of the RE-Design session at this year's CWU Annual Conference held in Bournemouth, during which he criticised the CWU's Health and Safety Community for feeling they were being 'attacked' and of not being forward thinking and refusing to accept change:
In effect the possible outcome of Re-Design may well be to abandon the long held culture of Trade Unions identifying specialist issues that need specific levels of education, knowledge and experience to benefit union members in the workplace and in the wider community; and to in the case of Health & Safety specifically, remove it's specialism and spread the issue thinly across all aspects of the union's activities.
But unless Branch Officers, including some Area Safety Reps wake up from their 'let's wait and see' stance, the fate of Health & Safety will be one of falling of the cliff without any fall-restraint harness!
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Source: cwu hs community / unionsafety / cwu