25 May 2022

Tougher laws needed to protect workers forced back into offices

Stronger health and safety laws, more legal powers for reps and the right to digitally disconnect from work are needed to protect workers being forced back into the office after Covid. 

Conference voted today (25) for the NEC to campaign alongside the TUC for a raft of health and safety measures. 

They also include more funding and statutory powers for the Health and Safety Executive, the right to full sick pay from day one and more powers for unions. 

Motion A18 also called for the NEC to work with the TUC to make sure government failings are spelled out in full at the Covid-19 public inquiry. 

Martin Cavanagh, moving the motion on behalf of the NEC said: “It’s vital we do not allow the government to perpetuate the narrative that ordinary people are to blame for the catastrophic death toll. 

“It’s very much on their hands, not union workers or the union movement. 

“It’s our movement that’s secure in our desire to build back better. 

“Not Boris Johnson, who throws out punchlines like confetti without any meaning behind them. 

“It’s the workers, not the bosses who are critical to security. 

“We now need to do our best to provide a better future for our members, and all workers in this country.”

The motion, which was carried unanimously, called on the NEC to:

1. To work with the TUC to ensure that the fullest evidence of the failings of the UK government is brought to the attention of the Covid-19 public inquiry, 

2. To campaign within the TUC for a national united trade union campaign for: 

a. A strengthening of existing health and safety laws, 

b. Safety reps to have a legally enforceable right to force employers to comply with the law and for workers to have the absolute right to absent themselves from work whenever they feel it is unsafe, 

c. Increased funding to the HSE and necessary legislative changes so that it is a more effective, independent regulator of health and safety and to ensure that effective and swift enforcement action is taken against employers who breach the Health and Safety at Work Act, including the working time regulations, 

d. The right to full sick pay for all workers from day one, 

e. The legal right to disconnect digitally from work, 

f. Improved union recognition laws, the legal right of trade unions to have access to workers, and to scrap the anti-trade union laws which frequently prevents workers from quickly defending themselves, as well as curbing our right to protest.