The Trades Union Congress (TUC) should be careful not to isolate workers in its new campaign for increased corporate responsibility, it was claimed today.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) experts Article 13 told HR Gateway today that the TUC's campaign to get increased powers for safety reps risks excluding non-union employees:
'All employees should be health and safety inspectors, it is not just a union problem. Employees could be isolated if unions are left to be the major communicator over breaches in health and safety law,' Jane Fiona Cumming, head of Article 13 said today.
According to recent research, eight to 15% of the value of corporate share prices is down to a company's reputation. Cumming believes that the TUC's calls for legislation are necessary but missing the point:
'CSR is in a company's best interest and it is about building a culture where all employees can communicate with managers about any H&S breaches.
'There will always be some employers that need the legislation route to see the sense of CSR, but they have to remember it is not about whistle-blowing but improving productivity and lowering costs,' said Cumming.
The TUC's campaign is calling for tougher enforcement of health and safety laws, higher fines, corporate killing legislation, more powers for union safety reps to influence how health and safety is managed and more inspectors to enforce the law.
Culminating in a day of global union action in April next year, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) drive for accountability in health and safety is a bid to reduce workplace-related deaths:
'Some people in the business community want to adopt policies on corporate social responsibility as a substitute for legislation. Where that goes beyond the legislative minimum, that's OK.
'But the international trade union movement now wants real corporate accountability, which means that employers who break the law should be treated like any other law breaker. And when they have killed someone who works for them, they should go to jail for it,' says the TUC's Owen Tudor.
Every year, more people are killed at work around the world than in wars, or by AIDS - a total of two million a year according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) figures.
Every year in Britain, about 300 workers are killed in the workplace: about a thousand die while driving for their work and thousands more die from occupational diseases such as asbestos poisoning which kills 5,000 a year alone.
If you are looking to push forward a plan of CSR in your company then Cumming and Article 13 have a ten-point action plan for you to follow to build the trust on which your business relationships can be sustained, and deliver the competitive edge:
Articulate a clear sense of purpose
Create a workforce committed to the values of the organisation
Define how we do things around here
Manage the intangibles
Put together a clear strategy for corporate responsibility
Create a brand with personality
List and involve people in strategic ways
Leverage social change
Consider strategic involvement and investment in the community.
This article was first published on 1 November 2002 in HR Gateway www.hrgateway.com. Reproduced with the permission of HR Gateway, November 2002.