Health and Safety of Public Service Staff

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2016 National Delegate Conference
25 February 2016
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that when public services are under pressure from cuts and re-organisations that pressures increase on both staff and service users. Add those things to the Westminster government’s austerity agenda and we have a recipe for disaster.

Employee’s health, safety and well being in the workplace are bearing the brunt of a nation ready to explode.

Stress, bullying, harassment and violence are all reaching record levels and staff are struggling to cope.

Employers are failing in their duties or turning a blind eye whilst their staff suffer or worse still they offer “resilience” programmes to help staff cope better – whilst neglecting to manage the very things that are causing them stress at work. Staff cuts, casualisation, zero hour contracts, being expected to do more with less are all causes of stress to our members at work.

Conference believes that employers should – no – employers MUST – reduce the risks to health or harm for all employees. Telling them to toughen up is not good management.

Conference further believes that:

1)Managing excessive workloads is good management;

2)Tackling stress at work is good management;

3)Dealing with bullies in the workplace is good management.

But sometimes employers need some guidance on how to be good managers of health, safety and well being in the workplace. And no-one is better placed than UNISON to give some helpful direction.

With a network of over 6000 Safety Reps working tirelessly to support our members – we have the knowledge and expertise to advise of what good management practice is in the workplace around health and safety.

Conference believes our safety reps need to know how to confidently use the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act and other associated regulations, how to serve union improvement notices on poor practise and how to access and complain to the Health and Safety Executive should employers continually flout legislation.

With this in mind, Conference calls on the National Executive Council to:

a)Formulate a Health and Safety Charter highlighting good employer health and safety, especially around the management of stress, bullying, harassment, violence and promoting positive well being in the workplace;

b)Lobby government to endorse the charter of good practice;

c)Encourage branches to promote the charter;

d)Expand the numbers of our health and safety reps;

e)Build confidence in our safety reps to use the existing legislation and regulations to hold employers to account for their plans and actions;

f)Put health and safety compliance in UNISON guidance on public procurement;

g)Encourage employers (especially national businesses and bodies) to adopt the charter.