Camden UNISON marked European Health and Safety Week with an open meeting on the 20th of October at the Town Hall Council Chamber.
The attendees were educated and informed on a variety of subjects, ranging from the humble beginnings of trade unions, the suffragette movement, the power of the unions in the 70s and 80s right up to the current government and the attacks happening against the trade unions and our rights as workers.
Steve Ballard of the London Hazards Centre and Shrewsbury pickets’ campaign gave an impassioned speech on the direction and philosophy he feels unions and activists should embrace for the future of campaigning in the ongoing battle between profits morality and the environment.
Laurie Heselden from the South Eastern Regional branch of the TUC gave us a break down of the TUC’s role in relation to the modern trade union movement, and his thoughts on the legislation being proposed by the current government concerning unions and health and safety. His comments resulted in one of the livelier Question and Answer sessions of the morning.
Thompsons solicitors kindly provided a number of well-qualified experts in various fields of the law. Melanie Williams, for example, gave a very informed and powerful talk on the effect of recent changes to the law and how they impact on us, in regard to personal injuries claims.
The afternoon session started with Julie Winn from the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) which is a group that is very active in the battle against asbestos, including the Asbestos trust funds, in schools and the workplace. Julie presented the facts on the threat that asbestos poses to far too many children and adults in the UK today. Julie’s Q & A session was another very lively one.
Jackie Wood (Thompsons) spoke about how to record exposure to asbestos at work; coming after the previous speaker it was timely and appropriate.
Ben McBride (Thompsons) covered the legal aspects of Stress at Work plus harassment and bullying. Ben covered some interesting cases that reflected how the law works in relation to those subjects.
The day finished with more information on European Health and Safety Week and a discussion on how we can, and should, promote and empower a culture of respect for the benefits that sensible laws and meaningful safety policies have on our daily lives. They are largely unseen and unappreciated, like many of the good things in life, until they are gone; then you notice their absence and perhaps think “why didn’t I care more?” Of course by then it is too late!
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