Thursday, 13 October 2011

UNISON survey shows nearly 28,000 violent incidents against public service workers last year

UNISON, Scotland’s largest union in public services will launch its annual violence at work survey at a health and safety conference at Stirling University tomorrow (14 October).

The survey shows that 27,775 violent incidents were recorded last year by Scotland’s public bodies. While the overall numbers remained stable there was a reduction in incidents in the NHS (down 1281 to 13,552) but a significant increase in councils (up 780 to 12,168). While there had been some improvement in monitoring by 18 councils, others had taken no action to review their policies in line with the new guidance on managing occupational violence – more than a year after it was launched in 2010.

UNISON Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said:

“These figures highlight an appalling level of violent incidents perpetrated on staff who are simply doing their job. While some employers are taking this issue seriously, others are not doing enough.”

“There are also early signs that spending cuts are impacting on the number of violent incidents. 21,000 job losses mean that staff are being stretched thinly in many public services, particularly in local government. This means less support for staff in high risk areas. UNISON will be undertaking further work to monitor this in the coming year.“

The survey also shows 280 convictions under the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act, a small decrease on the previous year. This Act has limited scope and UNISON, together with other trade unions have campaigned for stronger legislation to protect public service workers.

Dave Watson said:

“The Scottish Government opposed measures to strengthen the law in this area when Hugh Henry MSP proposed the Protection of Workers Bill. There is a level of complacency over violence in the workplace that workers in the front line find bewildering. We need a combination of efficient recording, effective workplace measures, monitoring and stronger legislation to protect workers from unacceptable levels of violence.”


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