UNISON Cymru Wales Winner, Billy Liddon Health & Safety Award: Juan-Antonio Garcia, Caerphilly
Meet the people recognised at UNISON’s recent Cymru Wales Awards 2019 night
Winner, Billy Liddon H&S Award: Juan-Antonio Garcia, Caerphilly
Billy Liddon learned his trade unionism during the historic 1980s miners’ strike as the NUM Cwm Lodge secretary. When his colliery closed he retrained and became a residential care worker and joined UNISON. Billy channelled his hardened experience into his passion for Health and Safety and he mainstreamed this important issue in the then Rhondda Cynon Taf UNISON branch, first as branch Health & Safety Officer and then as the branch’s assistant secretary. Billy was a much loved local, regional and national activist.
Juan has been taking the employer to task for weaknesses in workplace health and safety since he was a school caretaker in 2007, when he became a UNISON steward.
This determination to secure safer working environments led to his setting up a branch health and safety committee and a regular H&S newsletter. His interventions have made a difference, directly improving the quality of the workplace for thousands of people.
His early campaigning resulted in a significant positive policy change in the way sickness absence was recorded.
He identified major discrepancies in asbestos assessments being undertaken by the employer, so work was suspended and completely redone. He secured an undertaking from the then chief executive to make asbestos his primary objective and to commit adequate resource. Caerphilly was the first county borough to remove asbestos from its schools.
He’s proud too, of his successful campaign to ensure Meals on Wheels are not single-staffed. In a touching but sad moment, Juan supported a school caretaker during his sickness absence who eventually unfortunately pass away. Before he died, he told Juan the support he’d given him with health and safety issues over the years had made all the difference to him in his work.
Photo credit: Natasha Hirst