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first_imgLettersOn 7 Sep 2004 in Personnel Today Thisweek’s lettersWhat’s to stop our staff from taking us allto the cleaners?Ifworkers ever realise en masse how easy it is to make a successful claim againsttheir employers’ liability insurance, we can all get the redundancy deals outnow! It is impossible to successfully defend a claim – only gross ineptitudecould lead to failure. Liabilityinsurers, loss adjusters etal will happily inform you that they expect 95 per cent of claims to be settledwith a payment to the claimant. They are often the result of unwitnessed accidents (after all,no-one would make a malicious claim, would they?).With personal injury claims, you have two options: fight it and pay, or don’tfight it and pay. Allmy staff complete foundationlevel health and safety (H&S) training and manual handling training. Wehave risk assessments, and work instructions and standard operating proceduresare written and displayed. Ditto for safeworking procedures. We have ‘lock-off’ arrangements, signs,health and safety newsletters, mandatory eye, ear, hand and foot protection,high visibility jackets, safety data sheets,  first–aiders, fire wardens, an environmental H&Scommittee… Welive and breathe health and safety. Yet, we currently have 25 active claimsamong our 250 staff, and our insurers expect to pay out on every one. Guesswhich way our liability premium is going.Anongoing claim has proved to be the most incredulous of all. A fully-trainedmechanic failed to wear the safety glasses he had been issued with when hittinga punch with a hammer. He was wounded when a shard of metal entered his eye. AHealth and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that he knew he shouldhave worn the glasses, and admitted he couldn’t be bothered to get them fromhis toolbox. He’d received H&S training, and was trained for the task. TheHSE exonerated us of blame and took no action. Result?The claimant’s representatives have accused us of 13 areas of negligence, andasked for 24 items of documentation. Wehave provided all the evidence, including accident reports, first-aid log,witness statements, accident investigation report, evidence of training, evidence of issuing safetyglasses, the new risk assessment, and work instruction. But our insurers do notexpect to defeat the claim, and want to settle out of court to avoid excessivelegal costs. Liabilityproviders are complacent. They appoint their loss adjusters, who write theirreports. Both sides of the legal coin hand over standard replies. They finallyagree to settle out of court to avoid further legal costs. Everyone makesmoney, but someone must pay – the employers. Details suppliedIn our last issue, we asked readers if unionlearning reps should be government funded. Here is a selection of your replies…Yes: the service is open to everyoneIhave just voted ‘yes’ in answer to your news barometer question: ‘Should unionlearning representatives (ULRs)be Government funded?‘. Yes,because the work we undertake and the service we offer is not just for unionmembers – it is open to all employees for assistance and advice.Thework undertaken can be intense, confidential, and vast, and so is the training.Manyemployers are using the ULRsfor work (skills analysis and such like) that they themselves should havealready done or should be doing. This is abuse of our role. We are supposed towork as a complementary service to encourage colleagues to improve theirskills, not to manage jobs for them.IfULRs were Governmentfunded, then more employers might just ‘get on board’. ULRs have joined and championed the cause of thegovernment-funded Essential Skills and Life Long Learning programmes. If theagenda is to be achieved, then perhaps an increased status for learningrepresentatives would be beneficial for all concerned.Lynne GoochUnion learning representative, Public and Commercial Services Union Employers should fork out the moneyItwill be interesting to see what conclusion may be drawn from the result of yournews barometer poll (News, 24 August).Ihave voted ‘no’, but this should not be interpreted as rejecting the need tofund the training of union representatives. Theinvolvement of union representatives in the workplace consultation anddecision-making process is valuable and essential in a modern economy andsociety. It is in the interests of employers that this participation isundertaken with great competence and confidence,enabling workforces to feel truly involved and adequately represented.Whoshould pay for this? Well, trade unions already contribute considerableresources to the training, support and encouragement of workplacerepresentatives. I am not convinced that further costs should fall on unions.Nor that the Government should feel it must subsidise the cost, as it may feeltempted to assist in a nominal, symbolic way, rather than an adequate one.Surely it is the employers – who benefit from having well-trained unionrepresentatives with which to confer and negotiate – who should find theresources needed for this function, rather than the public purse?SoI voted ‘no’ in your poll, because I believe the employer should pay for thetraining of union representatives. This may be the reason why others also voted‘no’ (at the time of voting, 94 per cent of voters appeared to agree with me).Youmay wish to conduct a future poll on this question: ‘If successfulemployer-employee relations are partly dependent on well-trained unionrepresentatives, should emp-loyerspay some of the cost of their training?’Trevor PhillipsNATFHE (Union for further and higher education)Change in attitude needed for successIam a trade union representative. Ben Willmott,employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel andDevelopment (CIPD), said that the move was welcome, as long as it was used togive union representatives a better understanding of business, and not aboutwho has the edge in negotiations. “It’sabout attitude,” he said. “They need to think in terms of positiveoutcomes, rather than maintaining adversarial relations.”Frankly,this kind of attitude needs to be swiftly consigned to the dustbin of history,despite coming from the employee relations adviser at the CIPD. There is a longway to go before unions and management can negotiate with anything approachingpartnership. Thearticle went on to say: “…the Confederation of British Industry hasquestioned whether employers would have to pay for the time spent out of theworkplace, and asked how employers would be expected to accommodate trade unionrepresentatives undergoing training.” Thiscomment from the CBI encapsulates the insularity and short-term thinking soinherent of that organisation. Irene DanksDetails supplied ‘Tory’ policies cost support of unionsIthas been obvious over the past few years that the present Government holds ontoConservative policies, despite the fact it is supposed to be a Labour party runfor the workers.It’sno wonder the present Government is losing the support of the trade unions andtheir donations. TheLabour Party, run similarly to way the Tory party was run by Margaret Thatcher,is looking after the super rich, the chief executives, and the companydirectors’ fat-cat bonuses. So I say ‘no’ to Government funding for trade unionrepresentative training (News, 24 August).Ian WhitewayDetails suppliedPay for training with union subscriptionsThisnew Government initiative to fund the training of trade union representatives(News, 24 August) is ridiculous – what are trade union subscriptions for? Thetaxpayer should not be expected to subsidise something that the trade unionsshould be doing themselves. If they think there is merit in this, then theyshould be paying for it.Graham MurrayHR manager, Roslin Institute, Edinburgh Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img read more

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