Date: Thurs 28 April 2005
Union that won first passive smoking case backs clean air bill
- but calls for section to be withdrawn
UNISONScotland, the public service union that won the first compensation
for a worker who suffered ill-health because of passive smoking,
has issued briefings to MSPs backing the Executive's Smoking Health
and Social Care Bill, to be debated today (Thursday).
But the union expresses concerns about how the bill is to be enforced
- and wants the Executive to fully fund an enforcement strategy
backing its environmental health members who will police the ban.
Dave Watson, UNISON's Scottish Organiser for Policy and Information,
said "Back in 1993, UNISON won the first compensation for a worker
damaged by passive smoke, so we are keen to see this bill introduced
to protect other workers. Neither a partial ban, nor ventilation
adequately remove the damaging carcinogens, so removing the risk
entirely is the only effective strategy, and we call on MSP's to
back this part of the bill."
"We also welcome the Health Committee's recommendations that there
should be an effective enforcement strategy, and their call to the
Executive to fully fund the extra resources that Environmental Health
Departments need to deliver the ban."
However, the union also issues a warning about a different section
of the Bill, calling for the section allowing 'Joint Ventures' between
Health Boards and private companies to be detached from the Bill.
"The privatisation of primary care facilities implicit in this
section deserves more detailed scrutiny than it is getting," Dave
said, "Scarce health funding could be diverted into paying high
loan charges and shareholders dividends, and commercial decisions
will threaten local health priorities. There is little evidence
that the models being used in England are successful, and we call
on the Executive to detach section 5 from this Bill. After all,
if evidence becomes available they could introduce it in a more
appropriate bill later."
Note for Editors: UNISON has 150,000 Scottish members, around
60,000 who work in healthcare. The First Passive smoking case was
Veronica Bland, who in 1993, received £15,000 from Stockport Metropolitan
Borough Council. She suffered years of passive smoking at work and
eventually developed chronic bronchitis.
For Further Information Please Contact: Dave Watson (Scottish
Org - Policy & Info) 0845 355 0845(w) 07787 558 410(m) Chris Bartter
(Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)