Worker’s Memorial Day commemorates, the hardship and loss that previous generations of workers have endured to make our workplaces a safer environment.
This year’s rallies to the call of “Organising for Health and Safety – a crucial part of union action”.
In many ways, workplace health and safety is no different from other issues that unions fight for, like better wages, benefits and respect. In fact, the ultimate measure of dignity and respect on the job is the degree to which workers are provided with a safe and healthy working environment.
It has been proved, that the most effective tool that we have in ensuring good health and safety at work is trade unions, because organised workplaces are safer workplaces. Unite the Union stands by its commitment to ensuring that its members’ right to a healthy and safe working environment are respected, to such effect Unite Gibraltar has through the years trained over 200 reps in Health and Safety.
Trained and experienced safety reps make a difference in the day to day occupational health and safety by: –
• Helping reduce injuries at work.
• Reducing the levels of ill-health caused by workplace exposure.
• Encourages reporting of safety concerns, injuries and near-misses.
• Making workers more confident that the safety concerns will be addressed.
• Helps develop a more positive safety culture within the organisation.
• Saves the economy many millions of pounds, from the direct and indirect cost of accidents and occupational ill-health.
Unite the Union will be this year campaigning for our Health and Safety laws to be policed and enforced throughout the ever growing private sector, in particular within the construction industry as the highest risk sector. Unite urges Government to support this campaign for the development of Health and Safety Reps within the Private Sector at large.
Unite will continue to make a call on this day and campaign towards:
• Health and Safety representatives to be recognised by employers.
• For employers to comply with law, ensured by strict Government enforcement and development of strong laws.
• Adequate Health and Safety workplace policies and for these to be respected.
• A Gibraltar Government Health and Safety organised structure, able to provide both guidance to industry/commerce as well as strict enforcement of our Health and safety laws where necessary.
• Appropriate welfare and rest facilities within the workplace.
Some advancement have been made since last year’s Workers Memorial Day, via the Health and Safety Advisory Council, namely the introduction of HM Government of Gibraltar’s Health and Safety Policy Part A – “A Managers Guide for Government Department” and Part B – “Organisation and Arrangements”. Having said this, we must reiterate the importance of the implementation of the contents of the policies, ensuring they become an occupational day to day reality.
Unite reminds the Gibraltar working community that all employees have rights which include: –
• To work in places where all the risks to your health and safety are properly controlled.
• Stop working and leave the area if you think you are in danger.
• Be consulted on matters related to your health and safety at work and be party to meaningful participation on the development of safety controls and risk reduction measures.
•Inform your employer about health and safety issues or concerns, through your Safety Representative or Union Rep.
•To be able to contact local Health and Safety Inspectorate and/or your union where you still have health and safety concerns, without getting into trouble with your employer.
In the memory of our forefathers we need to reinforce and honour their struggle to maintain and enhance workers right to a safe and healthy workplace.
Let’s us honour the dead and fight for the living.