Many Leader readers will know that trade unions have played a large part in my life. They gave me my voice and my values, helping shape who I am today. This week is Heart Unions Week – an opportunity to promote and demonstrate the role that trade unions play in workplaces, community and the country. In the Senedd, this week, I updated colleagues on the work that is being done in Wales to support fair work and how that is being done in social partnership.
A social partnership approach, that brings business, trade unions and government together around the table to discuss workplace and economic issues, is one which is unique to Wales in the UK.
Recent progress on Covid workplace protections has been enabled by the work of the Health and Safety Forum. Considerations around workplace health and safety have been radically altered by coronavirus and the national forum was established in the autumn to provide a way for trade unions, the main employer bodies from the private and public sector in Wales and the relevant UK enforcement agencies to come together to share their collective experience and work together to enhance workplace health and safety in Wales. The changes made together to regulations and guidance will not only help keep workers safer, but our communities and country too. They are testament to what can be done when government, trade unions and employers work together in social partnership.
The pandemic has meant we have all had to make changes to the way we live and work. This is no time to let up, let alone roll back workplace protections. After all, a race to the bottom on workers’ rights is not in the interests of workers, business nor the broader economy.
Sadly British Gas staff have recently been pushed to strike action, supported by the GMB, over the company’s ‘fire and rehire’ tactics. I firmly stand alongside British Gas staff in my constituency and across Wales, and call on British Gas to come back to the table and withdraw their threats.
Now is also the time for the UK Government to bring an end shameful practices like ‘fire and rehire’ once and for all. It is a practice that is neither ‘flexible’ nor ‘necessary’ – there should be no place for it in modern employment practices nor industrial relations.
By the end of this week, Betsi Cadwaladr UHB hope to have offered a vaccine to everyone in the top four priority groups, and are encouraging anyone aged over 70 who has not been offered an appointment to call 03000 840004. Please only call this number if you, or a loved one, are over 70 and have not been offered an appointment.
I again want to thank all those staff and volunteers who are part of our vaccination efforts, helping to vaccinate some of the most vulnerable in our communities. Thanks to your dedication, Betsi was the first health board to administer over 100,000 vaccines, and Wales has currently vaccinated the highest percentage of population in the UK.
As ever I will continue to keep constituents updated on my work as your Member of the Senedd, through my weekly columns here in the Flintshire Leader, but also on my Facebook page – Hannah Blythyn MS. If there is anything you’d like to discuss with me, please contact me on 01352 762102 or at Hannah.Blythyn@senedd.wales.