LibDems oppose safety rep protection

LibDems in the European Parliament have voted with centre right parties to ensure the failure of a proposal to protect workplace safety reps from blacklisting and victimisation.

Last week’s vote in Strasbourg followed a debate on a mid-term review of the European Union’s health and safety strategy. Glenis Willmott MEP, leader of the Labour group in Europe, tabled a proposal calling for an amendment to Europe’s workplace safety directive “to prevent the victimisation, dismissal or the refusal of employment or ‘blacklisting’ of workers or their representatives.”

The failure of the proposal leaves rogue employers free to dismiss and blacklist workers who raise concerns about safety without any fear of legal repercussions, said the Blacklist Support Group. In June, Glenis Willmott and her Labour colleague in the European Parliament Stephen Hughes introduced a delegation from the group to the EU commissioner for employment and social affairs. It was hoped this meeting would lead to firm action from Europe.

Brian Higgins, a blacklisted bricklayer and a member of the June Blacklist Support Group delegation, described the actions of the LibDem MEPs as “a kick in the teeth for honest workers prepared to take a stand to protect the lives of their workmates. But we will keep on campaigning against the evil scourge of blacklisting by big business until we finally get some justice.”

Safety campaigner Michael Dooley from the London Hazards Centre, who is also a blacklisted former construction worker, commented: “This is a setback for union safety representatives across Europe who for many years have made a significant impact in reducing fatality es in workplaces. Unfortunately, at the same time, safety reps have also complained about victimisation and blacklisting merely for raising concerns about health and safety issues.

“With the UK government discussing the abolition of unfair dismissal rules and safety laws which currently keep workers safe, this looks like a charter for rogue employers.”