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Monday 10 December 2007

Extension of Emergency Workers Act should go further - UNISON

UNISON, Scotland's public service union, today welcomed the extension of the coverage of the Emergency Workers Act to cover doctors and nurses in the community, but said they were disappointed that the opportunity had not been taken to cover other public sector staff or indeed other NHS staff working under threat of violence.

UNISON's Scottish Organiser, Dave Watson said "While it is welcome that a small number of extra people are now to be covered by this legislation, it is very disappointing that the government has not taken the opportunity to extend the act to cover the many public service workers who face threats and abuse daily in working in the community.

"The Act is called the Emergency Workers Act - not the Emergency Health Workers Act - and it was intended to cover all types of public service workers in emergency situations. We have long argued that it should cover public service workers in non-emergency situations, like social care workers in residential care and home care; education workers in schools; environmental officers tracking illegal dumping and enforcing safety legislation; traffic wardens and community safety wardens; utility workers; and also many other health service workers - physiotherapists, occupational therapists and others who have to put up with unacceptable behaviour from the public and clients.

"We hope there will be an opportunity to amend these regulations, to take account of the many people providing our services who need protection from unacceptable threats and violence."

The Emergency Workers Act covers emergency workers such as police, firefighters, and ambulance staff and includes nursing, and medical staff involved in responding to an emergency in hospitals, and can also include social work staff in very narrowly limited circumstances.


For Further Information Please Contact: Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser) 07958 122409 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)