Don’t scapegoat migrant workers, conference decides

Don’t scapegoat migrant workers, conference decides

Simon Hester from the Health and Safety Executive outlined his branch’s concerns about HSE’s involvement in enforcement against migrants to Prospect’s civil service sector conference in Nottingham in June.

He said involving the organisation in enforcement, except for breaches of health and safety law, risked undermining the HSE’s reputation and its work with vulnerable workers.

Hester noted the relentless scapegoating of migrants by politicians and the media. Within 24 hours of taking office, the new government had announced the creation of a new agency to find undocumented workers. Hester said it was unclear who would do this work.

HSE had fended off pressure to get its inspectors to work alongside immigration enforcement officers.

Hester said there were ethical, moral and social arguments against doing this.

Investigating accidents is a key feature of HSE inspectors’ work. They have to talk to witnesses because without their evidence, employers can escape prosecution.

“Our work will be seriously undermined if we work with organisations like the Border Agency,” he said.

Delegates agreed and backed the motion.

Procuring IT systems

A motion from the Department of Health branch was lost that called on the executive to commission and publish a review of the available literature on good practice for procuring, designing and delivering IT systems.

Mover Geoff Lay said IT systems were members’ working tools which affect their quality of life at work. He said performance targets were more difficult to meet when IT systems slow down staff from doing their job.

But Heather Philips, for the executive, opposed the motion, saying that Prospect was not an IT consultancy and that such spending was down the employer.