Thursday, April 11, 2013

An urgent appeal from UNISON to safety representatives (and all activists)

In March, UNISON was successful in influencing the House of Lords decision to remove clause 62 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (ERR) Bill. This clause would have made it harder for an employee to claim compensation for injuries sustained at work.
However, the amendments by the House of Lords will now be considered by the House of Commons on 16 April 2013. The House of Commons could decide to ignore the House of Lords' recommendation and instead reinsert clause 62 and press on regardless.
To ensure that the House of Commons do not ignore the House of Lords' recommendations, write to your MP and tell them why you want them to vote to remove clause 62 from the ERR Bill.
To write to your MP, click on the above link, enter your post code, and select your MP. You can copy and paste text from UNISON's model email to help you to write your own email about why your MP should vote to remove clause 62 of the ERR Bill.

Here is the text of the model email;

I am writing to you in my capacity of a Safety Representative at my workplace .............
The House of Commons is due on the 16 October to consider the House of Lords decision to remove clause of 62 of Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which the government inserted into the Bill at the Commons Report stage on 16th October 2012. This clause had it become law would have amended Section 47 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and removed the ability of an employee to enforce a civil claim for workplace injury on the grounds of a breach of workplace regulations.
Contrary to what the government claims, clause 62 went far beyond what Professor Lofstedt recommended in his report "Reclaiming health and safety". No review has been undertaken. Also by amending section 47 of the Health and Safety at Work Act as clause 62 proposed, the change would apply all civil cases involving breaches of workplace regulations, not just those regulations where strict liability applies. This would mean that workers would have to rely on proving negligence on the part of the employer, and would lead to claims being settled for substantially less than their true value, because of course the insurers, representing employers, would be in a much better position to afford the cost of fighting and losing such a case. The government claimed this change would reduce costly litigious action. Nothing could be more far from the truth as employers and their insurers would be encouraged to mount spurious defences for breaches of regulations, where in the past they would have settled out of court.
Clause 62 was only introduced to the Commons at Report Stage after it had already gone through the Committee Stage. This means that this highly contentious and far reaching amendment to the Health and Safety at Work Act has not been subject to the scrutiny by the Commons that is normally associated with such changes. However it has been scrutinised by the Lords and found wanting.
I therefore ask that the Commons listens to the Lord and removes part 5: section 62: Parts 1-11 from the bill on the basis that the government should review and consult on the issue of strict liability in an open and transparent manner, inviting submissions from all affected parties."

Please act on this if you can.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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