Covid-safe workplaces?

As a retired trade union officer an issue has been bouncing around in my head for a while now associated with the C19 return to work i.e. how do we ensure workplaces are as safe as they can be made?

In a unionised workplace the answer is pretty obvious as the appropriately trained TU H&S reps will ensure the workplace is safe. Indeed, I often recall that in my working days the TU H&S reps were often trained to a higher level than managers who actually held the legal H&S responsibilities.

But what happens in non-unionised workplaces? At one end of this will be the ‘sod the workers we want them back in grafting and beggar the consequences’ type employers who may well be putting pressure on employees to return to an unsafe workplace. At the other end there will be good employers who simply don’t know everything they should do (risk assessments etc.) and may then create a unsafe workplace inadvertently. Of course there’ll be every variation between these two extremes.

I decided to have a look at what the Health & Safety Executive were saying and here it is:-

www.hse.gov.uk/news/hse-regulatory-activity-during-coronavirus.htm

And here’s a link to the TUC and Coronavirus:-

www.tuc.org.uk/CoronavirusProtectingWorkers

If ever workers needed to be members of a trade union now is the time as many of the worries about returning to work will be dealt with without individuals having to do that worrying. I remain concerned that non-unionised workers will find themselves at a health disadvantage and during this pandemic that’s not where anyone wants to be.

Teachers standing up for safe learning conditions are condemned…….

The BBC has the article on it’s website – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-52685220

Our right wing newspapers have always had a downer on the teaching profession so it’s no surprise that in the debate over when schools should return to being open (other than for the children of key workers and vulnerable youngsters) that it uses the issue to teacher bash. The Children’s Commissioner wading into the matter telling Government and teaching unions to ‘stop squabbling’ is frankly unhelpful too. By using such a phrase she probably inadvertently gives the impression of an equal battle where both sides could well be in the wrong. However, in my view, school staff are very much the victims of the back to school approach of HM Government.

A while back and before the somewhat arbitrary date for some primary school years to return was set by government I read this from the NEU:-

It struck me as a very sensible document which clearly laid out and in a concise way the concerns of teachers and school staff in general.

The real issue here has been the lack of constructive/meaningful engagement with teachers representatives in the back to school process BEFORE the arbitrary date of June 1st was set for English primary schools.

We never seem to learn the value of good industrial relations in the UK and keep making the same old mistakes yet those making the mistakes/missteps then use the press to attack the victims of flawed consultation or in need non-consultation! That those who work in schools expect their unions to be be fully consulted is a given, it’s not rocket science for goodness sake.

Get off the backs of school staff, they are not the problem here and they have the support of the vast majority of parents.

It’s not wrong to expect a safe working and learning environment to be fully mapped out before orders to get on with it are are handed out from Downing Street.

Click on the NEU document to enlarge for reading

Maghull – C19 & how our world seemed to change from locked down to unlocked so quickly

Liverpool Road North shops in 2015

It’s normally very hard to access the shops on Liverpool Road North Maghull by car as the few parking spaces there are will usually occupied most of the time. C19 changed all that as the businesses closed and there were no cars wanting to park apart from those belonging to a few very local residents.

And then yesterday I went to deliver food to our isolating daughter and found pretty much the last parking space; the world has moved on or is that moved out very fast indeed!

Oddly though it seemed only 3 or 4 of the shops were actually open yet the cars and vans were back in numbers; a couple of days ago the only vehicles would have been those travelling through this small shopping area on their way to elsewhere.

I’m still of the view that it was just a little previous (maybe a couple of weeks previous) of government to ditch the ‘Stay at home’ message in favour of ‘Stay Alert’ as it may, on the limited evidence of Liverpool Road North yesterday, have sent the message ‘Go out’ even if that was not what was intended.

I’m guessing that similar scenes will have been replicated across England although probably not in Scotland or Wales?

And here’s an historic shot of the same shopping area in much quieter times, all the time:-

Merseytravel survey into how we move about – before – during & after C19

There’s an in depth travel survey on the Merseytravel website which you may like to participate in – see link below:-

liverpoolcityregionalca.researchfeedback.net/s.asp?k=158858381676

A Merseytravel consultation event previously held in Maghull.

A Merseyrail electric unit at Bootle New Strand Station.

A Liverpool bound 507 EMU approaching the Crescent Road level crossing in Birkdale, Southport.

Johnson exposed by the Sunday Times?

I’ve read the Sunday Times article of yesterday and at face value our PM, our political leaders and Public Health England are being said to have been ‘asleep at the wheel’ with more than a little evidence to back that up. Yes it’s just one side of a story but tellingly that story was blasted out by a usually Conservative supporting newspaper.

Frankly, to me, the lengthy article reads like it was well researched although unsurprisingly not all sources are disclosed particularly the inside No.10 political ones.

I’m sure Conservative leaders will seek to say that the article is a hatchet job on Johnson and I note that one Minister referred to it as ‘grotesque’, one definition of which is ‘strange and often frightening in appearance or character’ according to the Cambridge Dictionary.

And it’s easy for me as a Lib Dem opponent of the Conservative Party to say that the article proves that our Tory Government is not in control of this pandemic or at least they weren’t when it really mattered at the start. Yet well before I read the sobering Sunday Times article I had been struggling to accept that Government was in control. Again though is that just my innate response to politicians whom I have fundamental disagreements with? I’ve droned on enough in the recent past about prejudiced thinking so am I been a victim of my own party political prejudices?

It’s also interesting though that Government has not responded to the article in any serious way. Some short sound bite dismissals but not much if any evidence that Government political attack dogs have been let loose to destroy the fundamental thrust of it. That tells me that the fundamentals are probably correct and Government just wants to move on so the accusations move to the back burner of our troubled lives at present.

Is it also the case that we as a general UK population are so distracted by what is happening to us presently that we are almost pushing such accusations onto the back burner ourselves as we feel we need to have confidence in our leaders so we have hope that all will eventually be well?

Readers of this blog site will know that I have long held the view that we should trust no one with power and that their every move should be scrutinised. I fear there is much to scrutinise and that saying things like ‘this is not the not the time to look at what has gone wrong’ is no more than burying our heads in the sand. No, we need hard nosed investigative journalism more now than at any time in living memory to expose propaganda, misinformation, and the missteps of our leaders.