Comments are closed. The T&G’s general secretary Bill Morris tells Paul Nelson why he feelsthe Information and Consultation regulations must have effective penalties ifthey are to be of any use The T&G’s general secretary Bill Morris is calling for employers to facesignificant financial penalties if they fail to comply with the forthcomingInformation and Consultation legislation. In an exclusive interview with Personnel Today, Morris also criticises HR’slack of strategic contribution and employers’ commitment to the partnershipagenda. Morris said the Information and Consultation regulations, which will requireemployers to consult with staff over issues that affect them such asrestructuring and redundancies, must have teeth if it is to prove effective. The Government has not yet made any decision about what penalties will beincluded in the legislation, which is still at the consultation stage and willnot come into force until 2005. Morris wants a code which sets out a minimum consultation standard foremployers. He is in no doubt that the only way to force companies to conform isto hit their bottom line. “I am fed up with T&G members having to turn on the radio to findout if they have lost their job. For me, it is simple. We have rights andobligations, and we get rewards. If companies do not implement the minimumstandard then they do not receive investment grants, tax breaks or a lot of thethings they get now,” he said. “It is a carrot and stick situation – which I would rather not do – butit is the only way to make them [employers] do it.” Morris believes one of the reasons for poor consultation in the workplace isthat many employers have not embraced partnership arrangements with unions. “My great concern is that employers are not crossing the line to a trueand enduring partnership. There is still a ‘them and us’ mentality, which is afactor inhibiting improvements to industrial relations, and productivity andcompetitiveness. He added that HR directors must ensure they have a louder voice in theboardroom if industrial relations are to improve. “I do not blame CEOs or the company culture, because around the tablein a business-orientated environment, every portfolio has to fight its corner.I see no real evidence that HR directors are fighting theirs.” Morris believes HR directors must introduce a staff communications structureto channel opinion to the boardroom. “The HR director must be pro-active and assertive. They convey the badnews from the boardroom down to staff, but what they never do is take the viewsof employees to the boardroom. “If the role is to be meaningful and to inform the decision-makingprocess, it needs a structure and a system in order to poll the opinions of thepeople and take them to the board so it can have a rounded view about the veryimportant assets the HR director is responsible for. My experience tells methis is not the reality.” Morris does not think the UK is returning to the confrontational industrialrelations environment of the 1970s, despite the number of high-profileindustrial disputes over the past year. However, he stressed the union is determined to take strike action ifemployers attempt to close down its members’ final salary pension schemes. “If there is one issue where there will be an uprising of disputes, itis pensions, because people feel cheated, conned and insecure in terms ofretirement. “I am giving clear notice that the pensions robbery must end and wewill have no hesitation in asking our members to take industrial action if thisis necessary to resolve the issue.” The other big issue Morris highlights as a particular concern for his unionis Public Private Partnerships and Private Finance Initiatives. He does notbelieve the TUPE code, which is supposed to protect the terms and conditions ofstaff transferred from the public to the private sector, goes far enough. “The code is toothless. It states that terms and conditions must be‘broadly similar’ – it should be ‘comparable’. Then we might have a code withsome teeth in terms of enforceability,” he said. www.tgwu.org.uk Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Rules on consultation need stiff penaltiesOn 22 Oct 2002 in Personnel Today
Related Closer look at high-carb diet and recurrence of colon cancer Nut consumption reduces risk of death The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. Research also shows people who eat nuts weigh less With the incidence of colorectal cancer rising among younger adults, the American Cancer Society has lowered its recommended age for first screening from 50 to 45.Kimmie Ng of Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute was senior author of a recent study linking a low-insulin-load diet — fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy protein and fats — to a dramatic drop in colorectal cancer recurrence. Diet and lifestyle are prime suspects in the rising incidence among under-50 adults, Ng said in an interview. She also discussed the new American Cancer Society guidelines and how her own work seeks to illuminate risk factors in colorectal cancer. Q&AKimmie NgGAZETTE: Is the American Cancer Society’s decision a good one?NG: I do think it is a good idea, especially in light of the documented rise in incidence of colorectal cancer in young patients. We don’t have direct clinical evidence yet that this is going to be cost-effective, but we are definitely seeing many more patients under the age of 50 who are getting diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Often it is already metastatic at the time of diagnosis.By lowering the age at which screening starts to 45, I think that we will be able to catch and prevent more of these cancers.GAZETTE: The recommendation is for more screening, which in many people’s minds means colonoscopy. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that procedure — correct?NG: The American Cancer Society’s main message is that any screening is better than no screening, so they have been very careful in not preferentially recommending one screening method over another. They suggest that as long as you get screened by one of the methods in their guidelines, there could be a benefit. “There is a growing body of literature that the bacteria in the gut are influencing everything from development of cancer to cancer metastasis to how you respond to different treatments.” GAZETTE: Do you have any sense of what might be causing the increase in younger adults?NG: That is the million-dollar question. Most of those under age 50 being diagnosed with colorectal cancer do not have a family history or genetic predisposition.We do think there is a birth cohort effect. [Colorectal cancer] seems to have increased in successive birth cohorts as we go through the years. So we think it is probably some change in behavior or the environment that’s causing this. Our leading hypotheses are the increasing amount of sedentary behavior in younger folks compared with people who grew up in earlier times, the increase in processed foods — and other dietary changes as well — and higher rates of obesity, all of which are linked to development of colorectal cancer.What’s also interesting — and we’re now actively studying this — is how these behavioral changes relate to the microbiome and how the microbiome relates to the development of cancer and cancer growth and progression. There is a growing body of literature that the bacteria in the gut are influencing everything from development of cancer to cancer metastasis to how you respond to different treatments, even whether or not you have side effects from treatment.And for colorectal cancer specifically, there have been a couple of different bacterial species, such as Fusobacterium nucleatum, that have been linked to a worse outcome. Because the microbiome is so affected by diet and lifestyle factors, I wonder if some of the link between diet and the rising incidence in young folks may be mediated through changes in the microbiome. Insulin and colon cancer linked GAZETTE: Which leads us to your most recent work. Tell us about the most important findings in this research.NG: We looked at a completed Phase III clinical trial that was run by the National Cancer Institute of 1,023 Stage III colon cancer patients who had their tumors completely resected at surgery and enrolled in this trial to test two different chemotherapy regimens.It ended up that those regimens were equally effective, so we were able to pool all those patients and look at their self-reported dietary data, which was collected at two different time points: shortly after starting chemotherapy and then approximately six months after completing chemotherapy.We averaged the reported dietary intakes from both of those questionnaires for each patient and we calculated an insulin score — both an insulin load, which takes into account how much of each food you’re ingesting, as well as an insulin index, which is the amount of insulin response per kilocalorie. We calculated those scores for each patient.What we found was that individuals consuming a diet that induced a greater insulin response had a significantly higher risk of their cancer recurring or of dying.GAZETTE: Can you quantify that a little more?NG: It was a little more than double the rate of cancer recurrence or death compared to individuals consuming a diet that didn’t induce as much of an insulin response.GAZETTE: Why did you zero in on insulin specifically?NG: We have a lot of laboratory evidence that the insulin signaling pathway has tumor growth-promoting properties. It can accelerate cell proliferation. It can prevent apoptosis, which is programmed cell death. These effects can lead to cancer progression and growth.A lot of dietary factors have been associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. We believe the underlying mechanism may be tied to the insulin signaling pathway or energy balance.This is true for the dietary patterns that we studied. It’s true for obesity. It’s also true for exercise. All of these are related to energy balance and metabolism. So we really wanted to focus on the insulin response to food, rather than just the glucose response to food, which is what the glycemic index measures. We wanted to get right at our central mechanistic hypothesis.The other reason is that the glycemic index really only deals with the impact of carbohydrates, whereas we know that other types of foods, like proteins and fats, also elicit an insulin response. We wanted to be a little bit more comprehensive.GAZETTE: What is the take-home message from your work? NG: This is another addition to the literature that modifiable diet and lifestyle factors actually may be playing an important role in the risk of cancer recurrence and may have a true place in terms of secondary prevention, which is prevention of recurrence in cancer patients.This is also empowering for patients. I think a lot of times when patients get diagnosed with cancer, the sense of discomfort, unease, and anxiety is related to the loss of control. This is something that patients can take upon themselves to modify, in terms of their diet and physical activity, that may improve their chance of survival.GAZETTE: How strong generally are the links among cancer, diet, and physical activity?NG: I recently did a PubMed search on diet and cancer in preparation for a talk, and there were over 44,000 citations. It’s been a topic of interest for well over a century.The link is stronger for certain types of cancer. Certainly it makes sense for colorectal cancer, where what you’re ingesting comes in direct contact with the area where the tumor is starting. But it also seems to have a very important role in breast cancer. So there are certain cancers where diet and lifestyle seem to be a bit more important.GAZETTE: What kinds of foods are we talking about in your study?NG: We have to be a little bit cautious in attributing these high insulin scores to any one particular food, but a lot of them are what you’d expect — a lot of them are carbohydrates. The top food sources for high dietary insulin load are things like potatoes, red meat, milk, breakfast cereals, bread. Yogurt is also high up there.GAZETTE: And low dietary insulin load? Are we talking about the usual suspects: leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, nuts?NG: Exactly. Dietary insulin load actually tracks pretty well with the dietary patterns that we’ve studied and published on in the past. A Western dietary pattern is characterized by foods high in processed sugars, high-fat foods, and red meat, which tend to elicit high insulin responses and have been associated with worse outcomes from colorectal cancer. A more Mediterranean or “prudent pattern” diet typically includes foods that are associated with a low insulinogenic potential.Interview was edited for clarity and length.