IF ANYONE needs an argument about the need for effective trade unions, they should note recent events at Kwik-Fit. The company was fined £13,000 last week after a legal case resulting from an injury to an employee at its Hatch End branch. A month before the injury the company had been warned it was breaching safety rules.
The company pleaded guilty at Harrow Magistrates' Court to two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act and one under the Manual Handling Regulations. The court heard that an environmental health officer discovered safety problems at Kwik-Fit's depot in Grimsdyke Road in December 2001, including a ladder with a broken rung.
Recommendations for improved safety were made, but a month later the company's lack of training and inadequate control of health and safety standards led to a serious accident.
A car battery fell two metres from an overstocked shelf, landing on an employee's foot and breaking two of his toes. Complications in the healing process left the man permanently disabled and he was unable to return to work as a fitter. It is understood that he has not been in regular employment since the accident.
After a long and complicated battle Kwik-Fit was forced to recognise the TGWU union two years ago at some of its operations. Now we need to make the union real.