Workers at the Tesco store where Janise Corsfield is an USDAW rep expressed concerns about getting to and from work safely during the late shifts. In response, she set about working with the managers to make shift patterns more safety-conscious.
What was the problem with the buses?
My colleagues and I rely on buses to get to and from the out-of-town store in Cheshire. The closest bus stop to the supermarket is on the other side of a large industrial estate but walking through the estate makes people feel vulnerable. Depending on what time their shifts finish, staff often spend a long time waiting for buses in the dark. I ran the Safer Journeys to Work campaign to help staff on early and late shifts to get to and from work safely. This involved sitting down with managers to work out a staff rota that matched up with where people live and their transport arrangements.
How did you persuade managers to agree to change staff working hours?
I’ve always had a good relationship with the store managers. They know I have a good understanding of health and safety, so they’re open to my suggestions. As a rep, it’s important to know what you’re allowed to do and say. I made sure I was prepared and had my case ready when going into the management meeting to discuss the safety issue.
What other health and safety issues are you tackling?
I’m currently running campaigns on bullying and abuse in the workplace. It’s not that people are deliberately nasty; they need educating on acceptable behaviour. Also, I’m working with managers to train them in how to use the accident reporting system. As part of this I managed to convince them to reduce the weight of goods on top shelves – the cap has been dropped from 15kg to 10kg –to prevent colleagues injuring themselves when stacking.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face in the role?
I find out about key announcements before they’re made to other staff. When double time was reduced to time and a half on weekends this was understandably a big blow for staff. I couldn’t say anything though as the news was embargoed. People often get angry and even shun me. But if you stay confident and remain calm, and you take colleagues away from the hustle and bustle, you can resolve the situation. Despite some challenges, I enjoy being a rep and get a lot of satisfaction from seeing positive change happen. I enjoy looking after the welfare of other people.