Playing an active role

Support, guidance and updates from the CSP’s Employment Relations and Union Services team

Playing an active role

The CSP has a strong and established network of representatives who support and act on behalf of members at work. Frontline presents a taste of two of the roles, and celebrates the achievements of current reps.

What do CSP stewards do?

Stewards are the local face of the CSP as well as being members’ link with the CSP’s regional and national structures, and they play a major role ensuring the CSP has a strong voice and high profile at local level. 

Their core role is to represent members, either individually or collectively, and CSP members look to their steward for advice and support in relation to workplace issues. Local stewards are the first port of call for all members needing support. Stewards are responsible for making members’ views and opinions heard, and reporting decisions back to them, and for keeping members informed of what’s happening in their workplace and about developments from the CSP or wider world that affect them.

In the NHS, where the CSP is recognised as a trade union for collective bargaining the CSP steward has a significant role in negotiating with management, and stewards may be involved in negotiations at a number of different levels. This could be with other trade unions during joint meetings with management, or with managers on behalf of individual members or groups of members.

Increasingly, as the CSP deepens its organising agenda, local stewards, working with safety reps and the newly created ‘workplace contact’ role, are building a local team of CSP activists to help members work together to solve problems and push for improvements in working conditions collectively.

What do safety reps do?

CSP safety reps have two main roles: to advise and represent fellow members on all matters relating to their health, safety and welfare at work; and to make sure employers fulfil their legal obligations towards their employees, and to assist members in getting their health and safety problems resolved.

Safety reps need to understand aspects of health and safety law, become familiar with employer and employee legal duties, the role of safety committees and safety policies. They also need to understand inspections, accidents, the general work environment, specific hazards, manual handling and how to get organised.

Some of the main functions of safety representatives are to:

  • examine the causes of accidents in the workplace
  • investigate potential hazards and dangerous occurrences in the workplace
  • investigate complaints by employees relating to their health, safety and welfare
  • make representations to the employer on matters affecting the health, safety and welfare of employees
  • carry out inspections of members’ workplaces
  • be consulted by the employer on health and safety matters
  • represent employees in consultations with health and safety inspectors
  • attend safety committee meetings. 

Rep of the year awards 2019

This year’s winners, announced at ARC on 3 June, were Sarah Bunting, who was named Steward of the Year, and Laura Bygrave, who was named Health and Safety Rep of the Year. 

Sarah, a physiotherapist at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, has been a CSP rep for more than 20 years. Her nominee said: ‘Sarah is one of the most dedicated stewards I have ever met. What she doesn’t know about the CSP she will find out. She is fair and equal and will not tolerate discrimination of any sort. She would be an asset to any trust.’

Laura works as a pulmonary rehab physio at Hertfordshire Community NHS trust and has been a CSP rep for three years. Laura’s nominee said: ‘Laura is very approachable and available to provide advice for the whole team. She encourages everyone to report issues of concerns. Laura always keeps the team informed of relevant issues relating to health and safety.’

Paula Porter of Thompsons Solicitors and Alex MacKenzie, CSP council chair, presented Sarah and Laura each with a certificate, champagne and a £150 John Lewis voucher.

The CSP’s Rep of the Year Awards, which are nominated by fellow CSP members, honour accredited stewards and health and safety reps who have made a key impact in their workplace. They are sponsored by Thompsons Solicitors.

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