I write following your article on the training of union representatives and whether employers should pay some of the cost of that training (News, 7 September).
There has been a reduction in funding to the Health & Safety Executive and there are insufficient enforcement officers to ensure illegal and unsafe working practices among employers are being eliminated and reduced.
The best-trained employees in a workplace are stewards and safety reps because of the Trades Union Congress education programme. These individuals contribute to highlighting bad working practices and ensuring new safety standards are introduced, implemented and monitored.
In effect, they are carrying out the implementation aspect of the Government’s enforcing officers. This confirms that to continue and improve the training and learning needs among the trade union movement, it is vital that the Government recognises the benefits of using activists’ skills. Therefore, it should financially contribute to ensure more people in all industries are fully trained. This would allow ground activists to be more involved and for HSE officers to concentrate on other issues.
However, as well as financial help, the Government needs to introduce legislation to enhance union activists’ powers to pursue illegal and unscrupulous employers. This would help redirect enforcing agencies’ resources into other areas of priority, or prosecution for more serious offences.
Health and safety representative