TUC 2012: Unions are pushing the Labour leadership to tackle the boss-friendly government's onslaught on health and safety regulations, TUC delegates heard last night.
But bakers' union BFAWU Ronnie Draper told a Trade Union Co-ordinating Group fringe meeting that he was spearheading talks with Labour leader Ed Miliband and his office to take up the fight against the government's watering down of the regulations.
He said the life-threatening assault on workers should become a "manifesto issue."
The Workers under Attack: Health, Safety and Violence Against the Workforce meeting was chaired by United Road Transport Union general secretary Bob Monks.
It heard that under cover of austerity the Health and Safety Executive is being cut to the bone, slashing inspections and exposing workers to more and higher risks.
Labour MP John McDonnell said: "It will mean an increase in the number of accidents and deaths and the number of people put at risk in conditions we thought we had got rid of. It's horrendous."
He said that as the government pushed the idea that only construction sites and mines were dangerous workplaces it was completely ignoring a host of equally vulnerable sectors.
"It is terrifying. It just shows the brutality of this government and we will fight in Parliament."
Workers were afraid to speak out against possible dangers in case they were intimidated, bullied or sacked, he said.
Hazards campaign chairwoman Hilda Palmer said the government's move was a "vile, destructive and punitive attack."
She said there were 1,400 preventable deaths from work-related incidents a year on top of 50,000 from occupational illnesses.
National Union of Teachers executive member Jerry Glazier said teachers were on average twice as likely to be assaulted at work than other workers - by parents as well as students - and the situation would get worse as resources were squeezed.
And Prison Officers Association chairman Peter McParlin said research on 2,000 attacks on prison officers showed not just knives and other sharp items being used but even explosive devices.
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