Phil Mills warns against the impact of government plans to exclude smaller workplaces from health and safety legislation. Pic: Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk
12 September 2012
It's no surprise of course that delegates at this week's TUC Congress backed BECTU's calls for concerted action in support of health and safety regulation and vulnerable workers.
Delegates from the TUC's 54 affiliated unions are progressive people and the movement shares an abiding commitment to improving UK workplaces and conditions for the workforce. Both principles lie at the heart of BECTU's proposals.
Don't weaken scope of health and safety protection
Phil Mills, a leading branch representative at the National Theatre and an NEC member, led the debate on the union's health and safety motion which urged a major re-think of plans to weaken health and safety regulation.
BECTU is a long-standing campaigner for the strengthening of health and safety provision, to include better protection for workers in small workplaces and for freelances.
The union's motion urged Congress to reject "the Government's pursuit of a weakened health and safety regime in which workers can be denied full protection depending on their employment status, or the arbitrary definition of their workplaces as "low" or "high" risk."
Martin Spence calls for concerted action, led by the TUC, in support of vulnerable workers. Pic: Stefano Cagnoni/reportdigital.co.uk
Martin Spence, assistant general secretary, spoke on the union's motion in support of the growing number of vulnerable workers who fall foul of employers willing to defy employment legislation, not least on the national minimum wage.
The motion stated:
"Congress notes that this shift in employment patterns harms individual and collective employment rights. Insecure employment reduces workers’ ability to assert their rights and it reduces their bargaining power.
"The precarious nature of employment for new entrants often results in them feeling forced to accept poor conditions and dissuades them from challenging law-breaking employers for fear of being labelled as ‘trouble-makers’.
Both motions received the unanimous support of delegates. Read the full text of both motions
Whilst the propositions highlight current, or anticipated gaps in regulation or enforcement, and call for TUC support, the motions also reaffirm the union's commitment to members and underline its campaigning priorities.
Vice-president, Jane Perry, also joined BECTU's TUC delegation in Brighton with fellow NEC members, Peter Cox and Winston Phillips.
This year's TUC Congress was staged under the A Future That Works banner, the anti-austerity campaign which builds on the successful March for the Alternative of 2011.
A Future that Works, a national campaign which is building towards a march and rally in London on Saturday 20 October, will continue to challenge government on the cuts in jobs and services which are hurting all sections of the community up and down the country.
BECTU will be represented in London on 20 October. For more information on plans for A Future that Works visit http://afuturethatworks.org/ BECTU members will receive information on the union's involvement in the next few weeks.
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