Stressed? Join a union : LETTERS

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The Independent Online
YOUR recent feature on workplace stress ("Overwork: the Nineties' disease", Sunday Review, 29 January) identifies the hazards but proposes only "coping" solutions, such as exercise. What about stress reduction or removal? A recent review for the Health and Safety Executive outlines the limitations of the personal approach you advocate. It emphasises the need for stress removal or reduction at the workplace. This is in line with legal requirements on employers. Recently, the HSE has implemented several European Union directives that will help reduce or eliminate stress at the workplace. All require management to carry out a risk assessment of stressful activities at the workplace.

However, low staffing levels, performance-related pay, long hours, bullying management practices and many other workplace stressors are best addressed by joining a trade union. It is no accident that John Walker, the former social worker who won damagesagainst his employers, Northumberland County Council, in 1994 for exposing him to stress at work which drove him to a nervous breakdown, was supported by his union, Unison, in his legal case.

A J P Dalton London NW5