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ISSUE 75 page 7

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Health & Safety
Unions still under the dryer as EU develops hair allergy
 AFTER THE PREVIOUS EUROPEAN COMMISSION UNDER Manuel Barroso introduced its REFIT programme trade unions feared that it would lead to the withdrawal and abandonment of important pieces of social and labour legislation. This was reinforced when the already-signed agreement on health and safety in the hairdressing sector (see issue 53) was the first-ever to be blocked from adoption as an EU directive (see issue 64). The new Juncker Commission, which took office in 2014, promised ‘better regulation’ not ‘more or less’. It also proclaimed that the EU would be ‘big on big things and small on small things’. Unfortunately the image chosen to illustrate the latter was of a hairdresser cutting a customer’s hair together with a woman’s high-heeled shoe. The implication that the welfare of workers in hair salons was a minor matter did not go down well with Uni-Europa, the European services workers

HairSmall

union. They accused the Commission of mocking the agreement and hit back with a campaign entitled ‘Better Regulation - It Really Isn’t’. Supported by all the European trade union federations the campaign put up posters showing how chemicals can affect hairdressers’ health in Brussels metro stations near the offices of the Commission. There is also a website at www.notbetter.eu that includes a petition to get the EU to ratify the hair agreement and to stop stalling on health and safety legislation in general. ‘UNI Europa and its allies will not stand idly by any more while the health and safety of thousands of, mostly young and female, workers is being held hostage ... they are at very high risk of developing skin ailments, musculoskeletal diseases and occupational asthma’ stated Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa.

The EU’s offensive image and the union’s riposte

 

 

EU stats show chemicals in toys top dangerous product list

THE RAPID ALERT SYSTEM ALLOWS EU Member States to notify each other when they discover any non-food imported product that they believe to be dangerous (see issue 41). Reports are published every week and detail measures taken by the notifying country, which may include bans, withdrawals, recalls or import rejection by customs authorities. ‘Reactions’ allow authorities notified in other states to say what they did about the product concerned. The annual report from the European Commission on this system shows that, in 2015, the commonest category of products to be notified was toys followed by clothing and fashion. The kind of risk most likely to be posed by these items was chemical, phthalates (plastic softeners which can cause fertility problems) in the case of toys and heavy metals such as nickel and lead in fashion jewellery. 62% of the dangerous products came from China, unsurprisingly as it is the biggest exporter to the EU (see page 9). Although there were 2,072 alerts last year, in total China has followed up on 11,540 notifications and has been able to take corrective measures in 3,748 cases. Both the Commission and the EU consumer group BEUC draw attention to online buying, now used by 65% of the population as contributing to the figures. EU Consumer Commissioner Jourovà will visit China in June to discuss product safety with her Chinese counterparts while Monique Goyens of BEUC said ‘We need stricter market surveillance rules’.

EUDangToyChartDangerous products notified 2014-2015

Tobacco deadline: all fag packets to get nasty pictures

MAY 20TH. MARKED THE DEADLINE FOR EU Member States to implement the tobacco directive. This much-fought over law (see issues 61 & 64) was delayed by a consultation exercise and the change of Commission after elections in 2014. Now at last measures such as warning pictures covering 65% of the pack, the banning of flavours and reporting of the most dangerous additives will come into effect. In the U.K., having lost one of the many court cases that tobacco companies are pursuing worldwide against future plain packaging, they will also soon have to put up with a uniform ‘dirty-brown’. The manufacturers, who are complaining about the speed needed in altering production lines, have one year to sell the old packs before they are totally banned. It is estimated that there will be a 2% decrease in smoking, a loss of €376 million to the companies but a saving of €10 billion in health care costs.

 CigPlainPack

Possible future cigarette packet?




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