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The trade union effect on health, safety and well-being at work in the 21st century: Findings from a secondary analysis of ESENER. What this presentation is about. Evidence of worker representation on OHS from the European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER)

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  1. The trade union effect on health, safety and well-being at work in the 21st century: Findings from a secondary analysis of ESENER

  2. What this presentation is about • Evidence of worker representation on OHS from the European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER) • How it compares with what we already know and would expect to find • Challenges for sustaining the’ trade union effect’

  3. ESENER in brief • EU-wide (27 and Croatia, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey) establishment OHS survey on new and emergent risks (emphasis on psycho-social hazards of modern work organisation) • Managers and workers representatives in workplaces of all sizes except micro-enterprises • Nearly 36,000 telephone interviews with managers and worker representatives (over 7,000)

  4. What we did • Examined the ESENER data for features of support and effects of worker’ involvement in the management of OSH • Used multivariate analyses to define a typology of establishments according to their characteristics determining worker involvement • Compared with existing research findings to explain the context of features found to have greatest influence on enterprises’ involvement of workers and their representatives in OHS management

  5. What ESENER report says about worker representation on OHS generally • Strong association between presence of arrangements for representation and measures of OHS management (Expected) • High levels of perceptions of effectiveness of representation on operation of these measures (Expected) • High level of involvement in OHS management measures such as risk assessment (Unexpected) • Strong support for representatives re: time off to undertake functions and from training (Unexpected): • Some concerns about sufficient time/access to workers • Need for more training re psychosocial risks/bullying/ discrimination or ergonomics

  6. ESENER and worker representation and consultation on OHS (cont) Our findings essentially describe what we might expect to find where ‘pre-conditions for representation’ exist. That is: • Worker representation is more common in larger organisations and public sector. • More likely where management prioritises OHS, and the views of workers • Formal management of health and safety risks more likely (and perceived as more effective) in workplaces with worker representation & high management commitment to OHS.

  7. ESENER and worker representation and consultation on OHS (cont.) • Psychosocial risk management more likely in these workplaces. • Also more likely to be effective where employees are involved. Latter is more likely where there is representation • Confirms that management of both traditional and psychosocial health and safety risks, and its effectiveness, more likely in workplaces in which workers’ representatives are supported by trades unions (eg training), and sufficient resources (eg time).

  8. Workplace representation: a reminder of a success story of more than two decades Hundreds of thousands of health and safety representatives Increased demand for participative approaches to OHS management at regulatory and workplace levels Greater engagement of inspectorate and OHS specialists Strong evidence of improved OHS performance where trade union supported safety representatives are involved

  9. Why - what makes things work? Studies confirmed the support of : • Regulatory provisions • Management commitment to better health and safety performance through participative arrangements • Workplace worker organisation • Support from trade unions outside workplaces: • Well-trained and well- informed representatives.

  10. But…..nowadays ….. Increased unemployment Weaker trades unions Cut backs in government expenditure Attacks on wider employment rights Pay and pension cuts Work intensification/reorganisation and restructuring Issues of migration and informal/undocumented work — Increasingly extreme features of a well-established neo-liberal political and economic agenda in Europe — All make it more difficult to focus on OHS representation

  11. For representation on OHS, challenges include …. • Reduced union presence • Reduced regulatory inspection (in most countries and changes in others) • Reduced professional capacity (eg occupational hygiene, safety engineering) • ‘New and emergent’ risks: • Psychosocial • Restructuring – hard-to-reach — All militate against the sustainability of the ‘trade union effect’

  12. What is to be done? — Some questions for for union policy and support • How to provide continued support for worker health and safety representatives e.g. better time off and training? • How can worker representation effectively address new and emerging risks? • Development of wider understandings of ‘occupational risks’ in the new economy • How to encourage their role as change agents outside of traditional employment relationship? • What is the role of representation on health and safety in trade union organising strategies? • What can be learned from good practice – what is transferable to other sectors and countries?

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