Rock-solid support for first-ever safety strike

Rock-solid support for first-ever safety strike

More than 3,000 health and safety workers went on strike on Monday against a below-inflation pay offer.

Members of Prospect and the Public and Commercial Services union picketed Health and Safety Executive offices up and down the country and reported rock-solid support for the strike from members.

About 80-90% of staff at 27 regional offices in England, Wales and Scotland took action, according to reports reaching their union headquarters in London.

Between 1,500-2,000 inspections of factories, mines, quarries, building sites, schools, hospitals, railways and offshore installations were cancelled because of the strike, the first-ever by HSE staff over their own pay.

Paul Noon, Prospect General Secretary, said: "Support for this strike reflects the anger of HSE staff at being offered a pay cut in real terms when their workload and the occupational risks to British workers are increasing all the time. We call on ministers to settle this dispute as soon as possible. If they do not, HSE staff will vote with their feet, with serious implications for the future of health and safety at work in the UK."

HSE’s offer to 3,800 staff would give only 1.5% for the most experienced staff at the top of pay scales. The dispute is over their outstanding 2003 pay review, due from October 1 last year, for which unions are seeking a minimum 2.6% increase for all staff.

The largest HSE offices in Bootle and at Rose Court, London, were almost deserted and only 30 out of 300 staff went in to work in Sheffield. Regional reports indicated solid support from other members at HSE offices in Plymouth, Poole, Bristol, East Grinstead, Basingstoke, Ashford, Chelmsford, Luton, Norwich, Northampton, Nottingham, Leeds, Newcastle upon Tyne, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Carlisle, Preston, Manchester, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Birmingham, Worcester, Cardiff, Carmarthen and Wrexham.

Members have voted to follow up the strike with a work to rule and refusal to use their own cars for HSE duties. Major incidents and court hearings have been given dispensation from the action.