Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 421 - 439)




  421. Thank you for joining us this afternoon. Those of you who are used to our procedures will know that where you agree with one another we would be grateful for a degree of silence and where you disagree if you would indicate. That would be very helpful. Would you like to identify yourselves.
  (Mr Jones) My name is Bob Jones and I am the Chief Executive of the British Ports Industry Training, the national training organisation for the UK ports industry.
  (Mr Sloggett) I am Jonathan Sloggett and I am the Chairman of British Ports Industry Training. My day job is as Chief Executive of the Port of Dover.

  422. That is a very interesting delineation; doubtless I shall ask you about it later.
  (Mr Braithwaite) I am Barclay Braithwaite and I am Chairman of the Ports' Industry's National Health and Safety Committee and I am also the General Manager of Aberdeen Harbour.
  (Mr Compton) I am Mike Compton, Director of the Ports' Safety Organisation.

  423. Thank you very much. Gentlemen, do you have anything you wish to say before we begin?
  (Mr Sloggett) No, I do not think so.

  Chairman: Mr Donohoe?

Mr Donohoe

  424. You were in the room when you heard the questions that I asked of the Transport and General Workers' Union about casualisation and the lack of training. Would you agree that there has been a downturn in the level of training within ports?
  (Mr Sloggett) I think one has to identify a wide spectrum of organisation which now operates in the ports industry. We have port authorities which manage ports but they are not responsible for a host of organisations that may be providing labour in those ports. Obviously all those companies are subject to the normal health and safety laws but some of them are very good and very responsible and take their training and safety responsibilities very seriously, others do not, so there is a very wide spread. I think that spectrum has come about over the course of last ten years since the abolition of the Dock Labour Scheme.

  425. What is your budget for training?
  (Mr Sloggett) In my port where we employ some 700 or 800 people, my budget for training would be between half a million and a million.

  426. A year?
  (Mr Sloggett) Yes.

  427. Does that pass right down to the dockers themselves?
  (Mr Sloggett) Very much so. Probably the Managing Director is the person who requires the most training, in my experience, but dockers need some as well!

  Mr Donohoe: Why do you say that the Managing Director is the person that needs most training?


  428. I think he was making a disastrous joke.
  (Mr Sloggett) He is usually the least competent!

  429. Can I ask you what you think of the particular challenges that are faced by the major ports, Mr Braithwaite?
  (Mr Braithwaite) I would like to take that in respect of safety, since that is the organisation that I am here representing. The major challenge that not only the major ports face but all ports face relates to the fact that accident levels within the ports industry, as in most other industries, have reached a plateau.

  430. How do you know, Mr Braithwaite?
  (Mr Braithwaite) We know that from our own figures and we also know that from government published figures. The challenge was, in a sense, laid down by government last year in their revitalising health and safety strategy statement, looking for a step-change in safety across a range of industries. We have certainly taken up that challenge within the ports industry, to actually try and create a step-change to move that accident level down. There are opportunities to do so, the existence of the Ports' Safety Organisation and its background and experience is something to build on. We have already heard this afternoon of some ports that do employ very good practice, and more of that can be spread.

  431. Sorry to interrupt you, I do not want to let you escape this business of statistics, do you agree that all of the statistics are lumped together in such a way that makes it difficult to identify specific problems in a way that could be useful?
  (Mr Braithwaite) I would like my colleague to answer that.
  (Mr Compton) Undoubtedly that is the case.

  432. Is that because they are general characterisations.
  (Mr Compton) Yes, and there is a general category, a general classification to which the dock industry is placed together with other industries. It is not possible to identify them separately.

  433. Would it be true to say that something like a fatality will be recorded in a clear way, but then it is possible to differentiate between, in effect, a broken bone and a more serious disablement?
  (Mr Compton) Certainly that information is given on the report form. We are talking about the accidents reported to the HSE.

  434. In what form is that available to you?
  (Mr Compton) It is the employer that makes those reports. There is a specific report form where all that detail has to be given, filled in and given to the HSE. All those reports go into the standard classification and against that there is no meaningful knowledge of the numbers of people employed in the industry. Before 1990 there was an annual survey carried out of the numbers employed in the industry by the National Association of Port Employers and the Department of Transport together. Since 1990 the Port Employers were wound up and there is no longer anyone to carry out that research within the industry and the Department.

  435. There is no longer anybody to carry it out or no one has chosen to carry it out?
  (Mr Compton) No one has chosen to.

  436. There is a difference, you said that there is no one available to carry it out. Because no one is being asked to gather that information they do not do so.
  (Mr Compton) There is no organisation of employers, and it is employers who employ the people concerned.

Mr Stevenson

  437. I do not know if you were here earlier when I was asking questions about statistics from the TGWU representatives, am I to understand what you are saying, here we have a major industry of enormous significance to the country and yet no one knows how many people are employed in that industry?
  (Mr Jones) May I come in here, as the National Training Organisation for the industry we are required to undertake biannual, every two years, a labour market survey of the industry. I have with me a draft of the latest survey. We ask questions of the industry and obviously not everyone answers. From the data we receive we are able to extrapolate.


  438. Extrapolation is interesting. How many do you send out and what percentage do you get back?
  (Mr Jones) We received 155 replies from over 400 that we sent out, 400 organisations.

  Chairman: Even the Labour Party would be worried about that.

Mr Stevenson

  439. How many are employed in the industry?
  (Mr Jones) Our extrapolation shows 25,500.

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