GMB union H&S success at Booker Wholesale

Paul said: “This is a victory for common sense. The union team working together has done some sterling work on this issue

31 August 2021

Successful Health & Safety challenge at Booker Wholesale in Haydock by the GMB union North West & Irish region

A guarded welcome from GMB union officials was the outcome of a grievance appeal meeting at Bookers Wholesale depot at Haydock. Moves by management to introduce new technology was challenged by the union and the appeal has now been adjourned until more work can be carried out on the safety aspects of the changes.

A new system of flashing lights accompanied by bleeping noise attached to a camera has been designed for “safety reasons” and is being introduced across the country. London Mayor Sadie Khan is demanding all lorries operating in London must have the new system in place to reduce the number of accidents affecting pedestrians and cyclists and large vehicles.

However GMB members have raised their concerns at the impact the technology will have on HGV drivers particularly on motorways.

A grievance submitted by reps at Booker’s depot in Haydock claimed the changes were potentially dangerous and needed to be reviewed. GMB convenor Tony Rolt said: “The system has been designed to prevent accidents when lorries are turning left on local roads. That is usually done at speeds around 20mph. However we can see that these flashing lights, bleeps and cameras are coming into operation when we are changing lanes on motorways at 60 mph. That is a major distraction and if it is raining the windscreen lights up like Blackpool illuminations causing a serious hazard and danger to anyone on that stretch.”

Fully backed by GMB organiser Jackie French talks were held but despite some adjustments to noise levels and brightness, the concerns were dismissed by a local manager. A grievance was submitted which raised the need for an agreement on how the side camera monitor system should work including more robust risk assessments. However despite an extensive case put forward by the union side it was rejected.

As part of the appeal against the decision GMB Health & Safety Officer Paul Holleran was asked to intervene. Following a letter to the senior management it was agreed that the grievance be adjourned and a working party be set up to explore the risks highlighted and a trial scheme be put in place. Paul said: “This is a victory for common sense. The union team working together has done some sterling work on this issue at Bookers because it is a matter of life and death and hopefully we can reach agreement through proper consultation as part of the pilot.”

Paul Holleran

Health & Safety Officer

Education Officer

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