Tories Out march, Sunday 1st October, Manchester: Hazards Campaign bloc and banner

Join the  Hazards Campaign in Manchester on Sunday 1st October where we will be marching behind our new banner at the Tories Out march at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester.

Join us to tell the Government : “We love red tape – it’s better than bloody bandages”

We  invite you to join us and to dress up in bloodied (fake blood or similar) bandages – there should be lots of Halloween costumes available in the shops if you don’t feel creative).

If you are lucky you may even get a  photo with Janet in her bandages… for the price of a postcard!

We are organising a table for the beginning of the march to encourage people to sign postcards – telling the Government : “We love red tape it’s better than bloody bandages” and “enough is enough.”

Meeting place  If possible we will our table up near to the Museum of Science and Industry end of Liverpool Road. If we can’t do that please ring one of the numbers below and keep an eye on @hazardscampaign and @jnewsham

Order of the day  We aim to set up our table  at about 10.00.  Speeches start at 11.30 at Castlefield Arena. The demo forms up on Liverpool Rd at 13.30  leaving at 14.00 with closing speeches at Piccadilly Gardens at 15.45 – 16.30.

Best wishes,

Janet Newsham – Hazards Campaign/GMHC

Janet Newsham 07734 317158
Hilda Palmer 07929 800240

ACTION : #TUC17 congress debate on regulation and safety this afternoon

Hazards Campaigners,

There is a  debate on Regulation and safety at #TUC17 this afternoon (Monday 11th) that supports  our message. It’s an excellent  opportunity to get more Enough is Enough ecards sent to PM and increase the pressure.

Please tweet and retweet this afternoon (Monday 11th) around 2pm onwards using the #tuc17 and retweet  @hazardscampaign   @jnewsham

Sample Tweets:

Paste and copy and tweet:

#TUC17 Regulation & Safety:  Hazards Campaign calls for an end to deregulation & undermining of health & safety http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/postcard

#TUC17 Support Regulation & Safety debate: Send a Hazards Campaign Enough is enough ecard http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/postcard

#TUC17 Deregulation is deadly, at Grenfell, at work, everywhere.  Enough is enough, stop deregulation http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/postcard

Or make up your own and add #tuc17 and the link http://www.hazardscampaign.org.uk/postcard 

THANK YOU

Hilda and Janet

 

Hazards 2017 closing plenary 2017 part 2

Hazards 2017 closing plenary part 1

Workshops and campaign meetings – selected Tweets

Hazards opening plenary session 28 July 2017 – selected Tweets

Background for Hazards conference 2017 Keele 28-30 July

#haz2017 More information here and here

Hazards Campaign open letter to Commander Stuart Cundy in charge of the Grenfell fire investigation

Metropolitan Police Headquarters, New Scotland Yard,  8-10 Broadway, London, SW1H 0BG.

Hazards Campaign open letter to Commander Stuart Cundy in charge of the Grenfell fire investigation

Dear Commander Cundy,

The police investigation must investigate the Prime Ministers and ministers whose behaviour, actions and wilful disregard of warnings about the deadly consequences of their deregulation fetish that lead to decisions which caused the Grenfell fire.

We are pleased to hear you confirm that the starting point for your investigation into the Grenfell Tower investigation is ‘80 deaths by manslaughter.’  It is clear now that the overall model of regulation and enforcement of fire safety in buildings lies within a wider political context of government deregulatory initiatives that have undermined criminal health and safety law over a long period, and specifically accelerated since 2010.  Therefore we seek assurance that your investigation will look not only at all those individuals, companies and organisations directly involved in Grenfell Tower, but will examine the wider and crucial role of the ministers and their advisers on the deregulation of all types of health and safety law, enforcement and scrutiny, which form the environment in which the decisions that led to the Grenfell disaster took place.  This is a disaster which was foretold, that should never have happened and would not have done if the regulation and enforcement framework had been properly functioning to protect lives rather than serve business interests first.

Your investigation must seek to establish responsibility and culpability for this terrible tragedy that has taken many lives and damaged many more.  It seems clear that Prime Ministers’ setting deregulatory agendas in their manifestos, their speeches and their government programmes, plus Ministers carrying out those programmes, plus those specifically responsible for Housing and Fire Safety must be interviewed under caution.  Ministers who promised but failed to review the Building Regulations after the Laknal fire and failed to act after repeated warnings of potential disaster from fire experts and many letters from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fire Safety and Rescue,  about the use of materials in high rise buildings without adequate safe guards in all aspects of their use, from specification, to installation to subsequent building, fire approvals and inspections, must be investigated.

We specifically seek assurance that this would include interviewing under caution ex Prime Minster David Cameron who repeatedly and vociferously ‘waged war’ on health and safety as ‘a monster’, ‘an albatross’, a ‘burden on business’ and which he vowed in his new year’s resolution of 2012 to ‘Kill off health and safety culture for good’   David Cameron set the ‘lite-touch’ political context in which regulations were viewed and policed.  Slashing the Health and Safety Executive, HSE, budget by a massive 33% in 2011 set the tone for the neutering of official policing of safety standards by the coalition government  . He established a programme of biased health and safety reviews, ‘Red Tape’ cuts, scrapping laws and dumbing down of guidance, plus slashing the budgets,  and restricting the enforcement activities of the HSE and the Local Authorities, while establishing business-oriented committees, advisory groups and programmes under the ‘Better Regulation’ agenda.

Others who must be interviewed under caution should include Prime Minister Theresa May who reaffirmed this deregulatory policy in 2016 and 2017, as ‘Cutting Red Tape’. and all ministers responsible for decisions on cutting health and safety in favour of reducing burdens on business, including, but not exclusively, ministers at the DWP, the DCLG, and those responsible for the Red Tape Challenge since 2010, those in charge of negotiating Brexit, plus any others who have made government sanctioned attacks on health and safety regulation and enforcement.  Of particular note is Oliver Letwin chairing a meeting under Brexit and the Red Tape Challenge on the deregulation of health and safety law for construction materials on the very day of the Grenfell Fire.

You are reported as stating that the criminal investigation would bring whoever is to blame to justice: “You can’t listen to the accounts of the survivors, the families, and those that lost loved ones, and listen to the 999 calls, like our investigation has done, and not want to hold people to account for a fire that should not have happened.”  We are pleased to hear this and insist that to honour this commitment, and to prevent other disasters, requires investigating and holding to account all those responsible for creating the deregulated health and safety environment including David Cameron and Theresa May and their ministers that have championed this model of corporate and governmental institutional neglect.

We will be pleased to provide more information on health and safety deregulation to your investigation team

Yours sincerely

Hilda Palmer, Acting Chair Hazards Campaign

‘Good work’ review, should be entitled ‘Damned Work’!

Responding to the ‘Taylor Review’ Employment Practices in the Modern Economy published today the Hazards Campaign says its conclusions are “deluded and misleading at best. “

Janet Newsham of the Hazards Campaign says that “Conclusions contained in the Taylor review of modern working practices published today, called ‘Good Work’(1), are deluded and misleading at best and are conspiring with the so called ‘gig’ employers at worst. The document continues to sanction unscrupulous employers, exploiting and harming their work force in whatever form they have chosen to employ them.”

The report suggests seven steps towards fair and decent work and talks about a national strategy for work explicitly directed toward the goal of good work for all. It says that this should include basic principles of a ‘fair balance of rights and responsibilities with a ‘baseline of protection’.

Janet Newsham observes: “Surely that is what employment law and contract law is all about? It would however have been more positive to provide employment rights from day one of employment and to make sure that all workers have decent employment rights as detailed for ‘employees’.

“The report suggests that ‘technological change’ can ‘offer new opportunities’, but this seems to be only in the interests of employers. It does not cover the way new technology is subjecting workers to ‘micromanagement’ and unfair scrutiny, surveillance and control and how it is being used to speed up processes to unacceptable levels of work and denying them basic welfare rights, such as toilet breaks and lunch breaks.

The Hazards Campaign asks what is stopping employers providing flexibility with workers now?

“We believe that these employers want a one sided flexibility. Employers already have the ability to employ people on permanent contracts, with negotiated hours with flexibility and self-management of their work. These so called gig employers, are devoid of employment decency and mutual respect. They want regimented control to maximise their profit at everyone’s expense other than their own.

“Ridiculously, the report says it is not ‘national regulation but responsible corporate governance’ that is needed. If this was the case, then this report would not have been produced. It is because workers are being exploited at every turn that regulation is vital.

“Finally, the Hazards Campaign would agree that the ‘shape and content of work and individual health and well-being are strongly related’. We need employers to stop killing, injuring and making workers ill. Workers are being ‘damned’ to bad working practices, low paid precarious work without any opportunity to progress or improve their pay, and conditions at work (including health, safety and welfare). Vulnerable workers cannot challenge bad safety, unhealthy, unfair or discriminatory working practices for fear of their work being terminated. They are powerless and treated with contempt.”

“Every year 50,000 plus workers die in the UK because of their work (2). We need employers to take their health and safety  responsibilities seriously by assessing the risks and eliminating and controlling them. We don’t need more words about proactive workplace health, we need all those in influential positions to reinforce the importance of health, safety and welfare excellence in our workplaces and for employers to act on it. ”

More Information: Janet Newsham Tel: 0161 636 7557 or mobile: 07734 317158

Note for Editors:
1. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/good-work-the-taylor-review-of-modern-working-practices
2. http://www.gmhazards.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Hazards-Campaign-challenging-the-HSE-statistics.pdf

FACK Statement on the suicide of George Cheese

FACK Statement on the suicide of George Arthur Cheese, apprentice at Audi Dealership, Reading

The Coroner Peter Bedford has concluded that Audi Reading management were not responsible for the death of apprentice George Cheese. 1

Stressing that there were other factors in play, Peter Bedford said he understood Cheese’s parents’ desire to blame the Audi dealership, but added that steps taken by the management following his death had succeeded in improving conditions there.

Families Against Corporate Killers has taken up this case as it highlights yet again the completely inadequate way in which work-related suicides are handled by the criminal justice system, and especially those relating to bullying of young people.  We were not present at the Inquest and did not hear the evidence the Coroner took into account in making his conclusion.   But whatever other factors were ‘in play’ in his death, the appalling bullying George suffered at work, as reported at the Inquest, must be addressed and those responsible held to account.  This verdict only lets employers off the hook.

We are concerned that there does not seem to have been an investigation under the Joint Protocol on Work-Related Death;  there may be no-one held to account for the bullying George suffered at his workplace, which as  reported at the Inquest was known about and allowed to continue by management.  We do not feel that steps taken by his employer after George took his own life in any way absolve them of their actions.  The catalogue of bullying abuse George faced is heartbreaking and includes:

“His parents said George  “over the moon” when he got the position at the Audi dealership, but he soon  started coming home covered in bruises and had holes burned into his clothes

“George Cheese’s coworkers at the Reading garage locked him in a cage, doused him in brake fluid and set his clothes set on fire.

“The court heard of one occasion when four men held him down while a fifth punched his leg, leaving him with a long-lasting limp.

 “Much of the abuse was dismissed as “banter” and “horseplay” by his then colleagues.

“After the police returned his belongings, his mother found 14 diary entries saved in the calendar app on his iPad, describing traumatic events from his workplace. One said: “My boss told me to hurry up and hang myself because I’m a useless piece of shit.”

“Cheese referred to a “PC” in his diary entries, writing: “PC tied me up, pressure-washed me. Thought it was hilarious. I couldn’t stand up afterwards. He called me a pussy and I had to walk home soaking wet.”

Another entry said “PC” had approached Cheese after his parents complained to the company and called him “a pussy who went telling tales to mummy”.

Work-Related suicides are on the rise and we estimate account for at least 300 deaths per year. 2 The HSE excludes suicides from being reported under the Reporting of injuries, death and dangerous  Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 3  and they are not properly investigated under the Joint Protocol on Work Related Death 4.

Consequently the employers and managers who play a role in the bullying or other work conditions that lead to a death by suicide are not held to account, and there are rarely any prosecutions for the work-related actions such as bullying, or long hours, excessive workloads, low pay and insecurity, all of which are reported to drive workers to take their own lives.

The Inquest is not a place to determine or ascribe blame, but to ascertain who died, when, where and how.  It is the authority responsible for enforcing health and safety in the workplace – the HSE or Local Authority in this case- and the police under the Joint Protocol for Work Related Death which should investigate, hold employers to account, take enforcement action to ensure future compliance,  and if there is sufficient evidence take prosecutions for breaches in the law.

Work-related suicides are not counted by the HSE, therefore do not count and are not taken seriously. Even when there is a blatant link with work, such as taking of a life in a workplace and letters specific work causes.  5

In a similar case to that of George Cheese, in Manchester in 2003 , 18 year old Hannah Kirkham took an overdose and died because she was being bullied at KFC.  Unlike in George’s case, the effect of the bullying was accepted as a major cause of her death.  At the Inquest in 2005,  the jury delivered a narrative verdict saying ‘she meant to kill herself by taking an overdose, was clinically depressed and this was “significantly influenced” by bullying at work. 6

However, as in George’s case, the Coroner ( Simon Nelson) , also noted favourably the employers’ action after her death: ‘KFC’s reaction to this inquiry in my view was appropriate, sensitive and proactive.”  He added he hoped anti-bullying policies made by the firm would prevent “similar tragic incidents”.

In both George’s and Hannah’s case, management were aware of, or shamefully, participated in totally unacceptable behaviour towards a vulnerable young colleague yet are not held accountable for the tragic outcome. In both cases the Coroners referred approvingly to action taken after the death.

‘Lessons have been learned’ are often the cruellest words a family can hear after someone they love has been killed by an employer’s negligence.  While everyone wants to ensure no-one else dies, it is surely only to be expected that improvements will be made? That an employee’s death would be a ‘wake up call’ for a negligent employer ?  But changes put in place afterwards, which should by law have been there before to stop the person dying, are cold comfort and should not be used to absolve the employers’ failures or show them in a better light.  It is not sufficient for justice that future deaths are prevented if employers are allowed to get away with the actions that contribute to a worker taking their life.

FACK are looking into work-related suicides generally and George Cheese’s death in particular.  We feel that work related suicides cannot be left to Inquests alone as they cannot hold employers to account for actions they have taken, or failed to take, that contribute to the suicide.  We are calling for

  • The HSE to change their policy and make it a duty under the Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) – http://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/reportable-incidents.htm for employers to report suicide of employees when there is any suspicion  it might be work-related.
  • Ensure that all signatories to the Join Protocol on Work-Related Death – http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/wrdp1.pdf-  investigate suicides for work-related issues.
  • The Local Authority with responsibility for enforcing health and safety legislation in George’s workplace to take action to ensure the employers are held to account for the failings that allowed George to be bullied and contributed to his death, and to take enforcement action to ensure future compliance.

Notes:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/25/george-cheese-bullied-mechanic-killed-himself-audi-garage-not-to-blame-coroner
  2. The Whole Story”: http://www.gmhazards.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Hazards-Campaign-challenging-the-HSE-statistics.pdf
  3. RIDDOR:  http://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/reportable-incidents.htm;
  4. Joint Protocol on Work-Related Death: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/wrdp1.pdf
  5. The Last Goodbye http://www.hazards.org/suicide/suicidalwork.htm

Inquest into Hannah Kirkham’s death: . http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/manchester/4508022.stm