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April, 2011:

People die when health and safety regulation is removed

Reproduced below is an article from the Guardian Online by Rory O’Neill which discusses the implications of the Governments cuts in public spending, this is why we marched on 26th March.

Full article available here

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/25/regulation-chris-grayling

A scalping or amputation is unlikely to be investigated now – under Chris Grayling’s regime how bad will an injury have to be?

Pesky safety regulations and meddling inspectors are bringing the economy to its knees and stifling job creation, or so the business lobby says. And it has received a sympathetic ear from the government, which this week announced a giant stride towards safety lawlessness at work.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspections will be slashed, red tape will be cut and most firms will be assured an inspector will never call. All for safety’s sake.

There are three large flies in this deregulatory ointment. The arguments are bogus, the statistics behind them are rigged and there’s enough couldn’t-give-a-damn employers out there to ensure millions suffer work-related health problems each year.

Still, this hasn’t stopped the government scuppering a system it acknowledges has delivered one of the world’s better workplace safety records. Never mind that safety regulations properly enforced are accepted to be the best way to make employers behave safely.

Launching the “Good health and safety, Good for everyone” strategy, employment minister Chris Grayling instead said Britain’s health and safety culture was “stifling business and holding back economic growth“.

And unsurprisingly, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), which publishes an annual off-with-their-regs manifesto, was among those to welcome the new strategy.

The most recent edition of BCC’s “Business burdens” report estimates workplace safety regulations lead to a recurring annual cost to business of £374m.

It sounds a lot. But BCC’s sums are seriously skewed.

BCC discounts entirely from its calculations the benefits to business from safety regulation, an omission it only acknowledges in the small print.

Whether it is safety-driven innovation, not making workers sick or not haemorrhaging valuable skills, there are real business benefits to not maiming your staff.

BCC ignores too the cost paid by the victims of slack health and safety standards. This human price outstrips the business cost several times over .

There’s the crunch of breaking bone in a workplace about 80 times every working day. Eyes or limbs are lost at work at a rate of two a day. Official figures indicate last year 1.3 million workers were harmed by their work, an increase on the previous year.

And these are just the injuries employers own up to – under-reporting is acknowledged to be rife.

There’s also a cash cost.

In Britain, occupational cancers alone cost society several billion pounds every year. Add in work-related heart and respiratory disease, mental illness and injuries and BCC’s costs complaints seem trivial bordering on ludicrous.

In fact, the total cost of neglecting workplace health and safety barely falls at all on business – the one party with something to gain from cost- and corner-cutting at the expense of safety.

HSE estimates less than a quarter of the cost of work-related injuries and ill-health is borne by employers, falling instead on “individuals and society”. And some recent evidence suggests this “cost-shifting” by business could be costing the rest of us considerably more.

When business and government frame health and safety protection as a job killer, rather than its absence as a killer full-stop, this keeps the real costs – people who get sick and die – safely out of the argument.

Safety enforcement was in crisis before the latest lurch toward lawlessness.

The prospects of a workplace seeing an HSE inspector last year slipped to once in a working lifetime. Just one in 15 major injuries at work – a scalping, blinding, the loss of a limb or two – resulted in a visit.

At the same time, HSE prosecutions sank to a record low, with just 735 convictions secured.

The workplace is already a safe haven for most rogue employers. Further deregulation will amplify the injustice, but that’s just what the government wants.

A 21 March ministerial statement from Chris Grayling noted the government would now concentrate “on dealing with serious breaches of health and safety regulation”.

If a scalping or an amputation is already unlikely to receive a knock at the door from HSE, under the new regime just how serious will an injury or breach have to be before an inspector calls?

Business over-estimates costs and ignores benefits with a purpose. It doesn’t want regulations and it doesn’t want enforcement. It has a government and a minister keen to oblige.

Somewhere down the line, people die when regulatory protection is removed.

That is not a burden on business, it is a burden on families and a burden on the state.

That’s the ultimate capital crime.

Julie Burchill: The unions have been demonised, so the bullies have taken their place

Reproduced below is a piece from the Blog of the Independant’s Julie Burchill.

The original article is avilable here http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/columnists/julie-burchill/julie-burchill-the-unions-have-been-demonised-so-the-bullies-have-taken-their-place-2264134.html

As I think I might have mentioned before, I come from a trades union family, and while my dad had the theory down and wasn’t above a bit of secondary picketing, my mother lived and breathed the struggle for workers’ rights. Or, as we call it today, Going Off On One Big Time.  I can’t recall the number of times I’d get home from school expecting to be greeted by an Individual Bird’s Eye Chicken Pie and my dad preparing to leave for his nightshift at the factory only to see my mum – who should have been at work – gesticulating wildly over the fence to the neighbour. My dad would look at me and smirk: “Boss looked at her funny again!”My mum was forever downing tools and marching out of her shop or cleaning job because the boss had allegedly Looked At Her Funny. The nature of this funniness was never wholly defined but we assumed that it was something to do with the boss feeling that he was in some way better than her. And as anyone who had ever seen her sing “My Canary’s Got Circles Under His Eyes” could have testified, this was provably ludicrous.

I don’t miss much about the past, but I do miss the days when workers had the nerve to walk out of a job on a whim because they knew that they could walk into another the next day. I’m thinking of that this week because my friend’s 22-year-old son is currently involved in an appeal against his employers. Not only did his boss look at him funny, but the manager of the shop where he works for some reason saw fit to harass, bully and physically attack him over a prolonged period of time until earlier this year he had a nervous breakdown. Mick Molloy of the GMB, who has been representing him, says: “I would liken the ‘relaxed’ working practices of this company to Lord of the Flies on the shop floor” – and this is not a man given to dramatic pronouncements. We keep hearing – most recently from Jamie Oliver – that today’s youth are pampered little potentates who are afraid to get their hands dirty and expect jam on it, with a level of entitlement unseen in any generation of workers before. But with the unions weakened and demonised, the reality is that the modern workplace is a tragic kingdom of exploitation, especially for the young. Lured by promises of “perks” and the camaraderie of “team spirit”, in reality what they get is very long hours for very little pay and if, like my friend’s son, you happen to work for a slap-happy scumbag, you will have to endure verbal and even physical abuse disguised as BANTER, because WE’RE A FAMILY HERE! (That would be the Manson Family?)There seems to be a special and unexpected tendency for self-consciously hip and liberal workplaces to go in for such vile behaviour. The artist whose work you see here has a friend whose first job was at a design company, of all places, where the boss’s chosen method of team-building was screaming into his employees’ faces “YOU’RE USELESS, I’LL KILL YOU!” followed some time later by “If I shout, it’s only BECAUSE I CARE!” A few months in and this man – “a 6ft-plus shaven-headed bloke!” – had developed a nervous stutter; a decade on, the experience still haunts him.When my friend’s son went to the police to report the physical assault by his boss which was the final straw, he was rewarded by a letter from them some weeks later which told him that even though the bully had admitted the offence, they would be taking no further action against him. At the appeal last week, according to Mick Molloy: “The individual who took the meeting had little or no knowledge of any of his own company’s protocols and procedures and talked amazingly at one point how the experience was ‘a learning curve for him’ and that it would ‘enrich his personal development’. They have found that the young man WAS assaulted but allowed the manager to continue working at the store. This company clearly leaves its employees to ‘get on with it’ – with disastrous consequences. The exploitation of the very young by the highly untrained certainly seems to be the key to the success of this company. Sadly they are not alone.”My mum may have taken it a bit too far at times, but how much better were the days in which workers walked out of jobs just because the boss looked at them funny than the days we live in now, when bright, sweet young men like my friend’s son are driven to the point of considering suicide because their boss is allowed to bully them with complete confidence and impunity. Progress, don’t you love it!

IfL latest 11/4/11

It seems that the IfL are ringing members directly and asking them to pay their fees.

If you are contacted by the IfL it is important that you do not agree to pay your fees.

Remember the deadline has been extended till the 31st of May and we will update you prior to that date with further advice.

If you are contacted can you let the branch know.

Campaigns Update

Dear All,

In this week’s campaigns update:

  • Talks to begin on IFL registration
  • TUC March for the Alternative – hundreds of thousands take to the streets
  • Industrial disputes – update and next steps
  • Government U-turn on EMA replacement doesn’t go far enough, says UCU
  • UCU says government floundering as more universities charge £9,000 fees
  • Universities’ governing bodies need more educationalists, says UCU
  • Local Roundup
  • Health academics must not be sidelined says UCU
  • New newsletter for learning reps available
  • Upcoming events

 

Talks to begin on IFL registration

We are very pleased to announce that the firm stand taken by members in our IfL campaign has now led to a significant step forward. On Wednesday UCU and other trade unions  held a constructive meeting with John Hayes MP, Minister of State for Further Education & Lifelong Learning, which has led to the firm  commitment of all relevant parties – the IFL, AOC, and trade unions – with the Minister facilitating where needed, to seek a resolution of the situation as early as possible in May.  Detailed discussions will start as soon possible. UCU is satisfied that all parties are looking for a resolution and will not take action to escalate matters in the meantime.  

We are continuing to undertake all the necessary preparation for an industrial action ballot to pursue a boycott of IFL registration fees and also are receiving further legal advice on the contractual responsibilities of employers. In order to allow the discussions between the relevant parties to procede however,  we will not open the ballot at this stage but  our advice to members remains  that they should not pay the fee. Please also continue to urge people to add their name to our petition which now has over 20,000 signatures. You can do this here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/iflpetition

This progress is a fantastic tribute to the strength of feeling and determination of UCU members – thank you all and please continue to support the campaign.

TUC March for the Alternative – hundreds of thousands take to the streets

A massive thank you to everyone who turned out for the TUC’s March for the Alternative on Saturday. The real story of that day, as everyone who was there will testify, was that between 250 and 400,000 people marched peacefully against the Coalition government’s cuts and, more importantly, marched for an alternative based on jobs, growth and social justice. UCU was well represented with coaches coming from across the UK and a forest of purple balloons helped many members find the way to the central UCU contingent. You can see photos from the day at the TUC March for the Alternative web page: http://marchforthealternative.org.uk/

Industrial disputes – update and next steps

*Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) – Following the two days of well-observed strike action taken by pre-92 branches, the employers are still resisting our calls to ACAS and appear to be favouring an increasingly confrontational approach.

*Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) – Talks are continuing between the government and the TUC, but the government confirmed in the budget that it is adopting the Hutton report on pensions. That means that they intend to move away from final salary pension benefits toward Career Average. They also intend to raise the normal retirement age and shift from RPI to CPI to measure annual rises. This comes on top of the intention of the government to increase contributions by over 3%. All of these will have a substantial impact on members’ pensions. Colleagues in the other teaching unions, who dominate in the TPS, are likely to consider balloting in the summer term at their forthcoming conferences.
 *HE job security and pay dispute – The employers continue to hold fast to their position that they will offer no more than 0.4% and they will not negotiate any national proposals on job security. On 15 April, the Higher Education Committee will meet to discuss our response to this.
* FE pay – The Association of Colleges has refused to reopen any negotiations over the pay offer of 0.2%. We will be looking to the next pay round in mid-May.

*Next steps: Following our industrial action last week, UCU is now consulting with branches, while general secretary Sally Hunt has written to all members laying out the industrial situation in each case and asking for views on next steps.  The results of this consultation will feed into the NEC’s decisions in the next couple of weeks. Watch this space for more.

Government U-turn on EMA replacement doesn’t go far enough, says UCU

UCU said on Monday that new financial support for poorer college students doesn’t go far enough. £390m is being removed from supporting poorer students and UCU warned that many who need help would be priced out of studying. UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “The government’s EMA U-turn doesn’t go far enough. For all the talk of more targeted support the bottom line is that £390m is being cut from allowances.” Read more here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=5430. Read national press coverage here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/180m-replacement-for-ema-scheme-2255512.html and here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12881747

UCU says government floundering as more universities charge £9,000 fees

This week saw a spate of institutions announce plans to charge the maximum £9,000 fee level, exposing the government’s flawed policy on university funding and the possibility of a £1bn funding shortfall. General secretary Sally Hunt has urged the government not to look to private providers or slash student numbers to cover its mistakes. She also said that the Prime Minister was wrong to suggest during Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, that the university access regulator, OFFA, could set fee levels for some universities. Read more here:

*Press release: http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=5435

* Sally’s letter in the Guardian here: 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/apr/01/voucher-system-for-tuition-fees

*Channel 4: http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/factcheck-university-tuition-fees-set-to-run-riot/6118

*BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12879817

*Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8411357/Universities-to-charge-average-8600-tuition-fees.html

*Left Foot Forward: http://www.leftfootforward.org/2011/03/david-cameron-pmqs-tuition-fees-regulator/

 

Universities’ governing bodies need more educationalists, says UCU

UCU has backed calls for staff and academics to have a much greater say in how universities are governed. Responding to a report by the Higher Education Policy Institute UCU said those tasked with taking key decisions had to have a proper understanding of a university’s role in society and its local community. Read more here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=5433 and here: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=415658&c=1. Read Sally Hunt’s response in the Left Foot Forward Blog: http://www.leftfootforward.org/2011/03/university-boards-fail-the-teacher-test/

Local Roundup:

*Strike date announced at Liverpool Hope University – UCU members at Liverpool Hope University will take strike action next Friday (8 April) in their ongoing dispute over job losses and the institution’s response to cuts in funding. 90 jobs are at risk at the institution and UCU said it was disappointed and frustrated that the university had gone against the advice of ACAS and refused UCU’s request to extend the timetable during which staff could go on strike. The news comes just a week after it was revealed the vice-chancellor recently enjoyed a 21% pay rise. Read more here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=5439

*Staff to strike at Newcastle College – UCU members at Newcastle College voted on Tuesday to strike in their fight to save jobs. The college has presented the union with plans for over 170 redundancies of which over three-quarters are teaching posts. UCU regional official, Iain Owens, said: “Management has decided to make redundant the very people whose job it is to retrain the unemployed and help rebuild the economy.” Read more here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=5432 . There was press coverage here: http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/north-east-news/evening-chronicle-news/2011/03/22/walk-out-threat-over-job-losses-at-college-72703-28380627/. *WHAT YOU CAN DO*: Please support colleagues at Newcastle by signing their petition: http://newcastlecollege.web.ucu.org.uk/sign-the-petition

 

Health academics must not be sidelined says UCU

UCU this week warned that healthcare training could be put at risk if academics are sidelined. Responding to the Department of Health’s Liberating the NHS consultation, UCU said the report had failed to recognise the crucial role academic, clinical and research staff at universities play in developing the healthcare workforce. For a copy of UCU’s response please contact : Barbara Beckles, bbeckles@ucu.org.uk.

New newsletter for learning reps available – A new newsletter for learning reps is available with articles on: the Institute of Learning; job cuts and ULRs; professional development policies as an alternative to performance management at HEIs; UK professional standards framework in higher education; a joint NUT-UCU online survey on 14-19 education and new learning rep training dates. We’d also like to hear from ULRs with contributions for future editions. To view the newsletter go to: http://www.ucu.org.uk/media/pdf/8/e/ucu_ulrnewsletter_apr11.pdf

Upcoming events:  

Monday 4 April: Day of solidarity for trade union members in Wisconsin (and other US states) –

The AFLCIO (American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations) have designated Monday 4 April as a day of solidarity with the workers in Wisconsin (and other US states) campaigning to defend their collective bargaining rights. British trade unionists are asked to demonstrate their support in this common fight. For information and resources see: http://www.we-r-1.org/weareone_resourcesforaction.cfm ; http://www.aflcio.org/issues/states/ and on 4 April www.tuc.org.uk/wisconsin

*Are you a staff representative on your HEI’s Council, Court of Board of Governors? –  A reminder that the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) is organising a Staff governor seminar – Thursday 14 April, London for academic and academic –related staff representatives serving on HEI governing bodies (such as University Council and the Board of Governors). Full details of the seminar, including how to register, are available on the LFHE website: http://www.lfhe.ac.uk/governance/events/staffgovernors.html/ .

*Venezuela: defending the majority, not punishing the poorest – National conference on how Venezuela is developing social inclusion and public services for all. Saturday 16 April, 10.00- 5.00pm, Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4RL. Further information: http://www.venezuelasolidarity.co.uk/

*Defending disabled people’s futures: trade unions support the ‘Hardest Hit’ day of action – On Wednesday May 11th disabled people, their families and supporters from all over the country are coming together to protest about the impact of spending cuts on disabled people. March assembles: 11th May, 11:30am, Horseguards Avenue, Embankment, London, then march to Parliament. See here for more details and to register: http://www.ukdpc.net

*Save the Date – UCU’s 2011 Teaching & Learning Conference – Saturday 14 May – Following last year’s successful conference, Teaching & Learning: What is at Stake for UCU?, UCU will again present a conference on Teaching & Learning, all day on Saturday 14 May 2011.  The conference will be free for members to attend and reasonable travel and child care expenses will be reimbursed. Further details to follow in due course, plus keep an eye on UCU’s events calendar at: http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=2073.

National Update from Sally Hunt

Dear colleague,
 
I’m writing to update you with the latest news on our current campaigns. I apologise for the length but there is a lot to report on and there are some important decisions for our union to make.
 
Firstly, a massive thank you to everyone who supported our industrial action last week. It was a big week for UCU. If you haven’t already seen the live reports on our blog, you can catch up with it all here: www.ucu.org.uk/action2011live
 
Please also continue to urge members working in England to add their name to our Institute for Learning (IfL) petition which now has over 20,000 signatures. You can do this here: www.ucu.org.uk/iflpetition
 
IfL
 
I am pleased to be able to give you some good news. The firm stand taken by members has now led to a significant step forward in our IfL campaign.
 
On Wednesday UCU and other trade unions held a constructive meeting with John Hayes MP, Minister of State for Further Education & Lifelong Learning, which has led to the firm  commitment of all relevant parties – the IfL, Association of Colleges, and trade unions – with the minister facilitating where needed, to seek a resolution of the situation as early as possible in May. Detailed discussions will start as soon possible.

We are satisfied that all parties are looking for a resolution and will not take action to escalate matters in the meantime.
 
We are continuing to undertake all the necessary preparation for an industrial action ballot to pursue a boycott of IfL registration fees and also are receiving further legal advice on the contractual responsibilities of employers. In order to allow the discussions between the relevant parties to proceed however, we will not open the ballot at this stage but our advice to members remains that they should not pay the fee.
 
Save the EMA
 
A big thanks to everyone who has supported our work in campaigning against the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance. You may have seen that this week ministers refused to reinstate EMA, but thanks to our campaigning an extra £300 million of funding has been allocated to student financial support. It’s not what we wanted but it’s a lot more than would have been available to our young people had we done nothing.
 
Industrial disputes – Tell me what you think
 
Below, I have set out where we are in each of our current industrial disputes. We are consulting with our branches over the way forward on all these disputes, but as always, I want to hear from individual members too. I would appreciate your views on the below issues and on anything else you think we should be doing. Feel free to email me your views.
 
Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS):

Talks are continuing between the government and the TUC, but the government confirmed in the budget that it is adopting the Hutton report on pensions. That means that they intend to move away from final salary pension benefits toward Career Average. They also intend to raise the normal retirement age and shift from RPI to CPI to measure annual rises. This comes on top of the intention of the government to increase contributions by over 3%.
 
All of these will have a substantial impact on members’ pensions. Crucially, it also means that our colleagues in the other teaching unions, who dominate in the TPS, are likely to consider balloting in the summer term at their forthcoming conferences.
 
Tell me what you think: Do you think we should call further strike dates over TPS now or wait for the other unions?

 
FE pay (England):

The Association of Colleges has refused to reopen any negotiations over the pay offer for members in England of 0.2%. We will be looking to the next pay round in mid-May.
 
Tell me what you think: Should we call further strike dates over the pay dispute in FE?

 
TUC March for the Alternative
 
Finally, a massive thank you to everyone who turned out for the TUC’s March for the Alternative on Saturday 26 March. The real story of that day, as everyone who was there will testify, was that between 250,000 and 400,000 people marched peacefully against the coalition government’s cuts and, more importantly, marched for an alternative based on jobs, growth and social justice.
 
I will continue to make the case to all parties that a healthy education system lies at the heart of this alternative.
 
Thank you for taking the time to read this email and have a good break.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Sally Hunt
UCU general secretary

Health and Safety News Issue 48

Latest edition of UCU Health and Safety News is now available for download from the link below

http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=1739

Latest IFL Update from UCU HQ

Dear colleagues,
 
IFL renewal deadline not until *31 May*
 
Thanks to everyone who turned out today to support our strike. I am writing to you now with some welcome news in our campaign against the hike in IfL fees.
 
I have now received confirmation that members have until 31 May 2011 to renew and pay the membership subscription for this year (1 April 2011-30 September 2012). IfL have told us that they consider that if the fee is not paid until then, membership will not lapse until 1 June 2011. Our view is that if due process is followed, this might take even longer.  
 
So, our advice remains that members can continue to delay paying their subscriptions while we attempt to achieve an acceptable negotiated alternative. To do this, I need your help.
 
We need you to help us build the pressure on all parties to come to the table.
 
If you haven’t already done so, please join more than 16,000 of your colleagues and sign the petition against the £68 fee here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/iflpetition. We will use this petition to build pressure on the government and the IfL.
 
In addition, UCU is beginning a formal ballot on a claim against your employer. We are calling on them to pay your IfL fee subscription otherwise we will orchestrate a collective refusal by members to maintain their IfL membership.


 
Look out for more details of this very soon and keep supporting your union.
 
Thank you for reading this email,
 
Yours sincerely

Sally Hunt
UCU general secretary