Date Fri 12 February 2010
98% of city childcare workers threatened and abused
UNISON, the union representing Glasgow’s residential child care
staff, today released the results of a survey of their residential
childcare members about violence at work over a twelve month period.
At the same time, the union at UK level has issued a ten-point
plan to address the problem of violence against social work staff.
The survey finds that the vast majority of the city’s residential
childcare workers were worried about violence in their job, and
they don’t feel that their managers take their concerns seriously.
The survey also found that a majority of workers have been physically
assaulted (53%) and threatened with a weapon (51%) in the past
year. Almost all workers responding (98%) said that they had suffered
threats or verbal abuse.
Andy McCallion, UNISON’s Glasgow branch Residential convenor
said: "This survey was organised because our stewards were telling
us that the levels of violence were increasing – both in frequency
and in extremity. Even we, however, were surprised at the levels
of the concern and the frequency of the violence.”
However, the union has found similar problems across the UK,
and today issued a ten-point plan* to tackle
the issue. Helga Pile, UNISON’s UK Officer for Social workers,
said: “There is a chronic problem across the UK with violence
and threats against staff working in social care. Threats and
assaults contribute to stress, ill-health, sickness absence and
high staff turnover. Employers have a responsibility to protect
their staff, but sadly, social care has become a high risk job.
“First on the list to tackle this is additional funding from
government to tackle violence against social workers and social
care staff. Measures to address this should include thorough risk
assessments that are revised following any incidents, co-working
on visits and redeploying anyone who is threatened or abused whilst
the incidents is fully investigated.
“Also vital is a new system to encourage social care staff to
come forward and report incidents, and to record them more accurately,
as well as improve the way incidents are responded to on a local
In Glasgow, the union also asked their members about attitudes
to the violence from their managers, and was concerned to find
that 85% of respondents did not feel that management outside the
direct workplace took violent incidents seriously enough.
Andy McCallion said "The bald statistic was backed up by many
of the comments on the questionnaire. Comments like – ‘we are
not being listened too’ or ‘we are the only group of staff where
zero tolerance doesn’t count.’. It is time that management started
recognising that being verbally abused and threatened on a daily
basis is NOT part of the job, that incidents need to be brought
out into the open and tackled, and that the placements need to
look at all the individual needs of the service user, other service
users living in the home, and the resources available.”
UNISON has raised the survey findings in negotiation with management
to improve the service to young people in residential units, and
to build a safer working environment for our members. The ten
point plan will be used both at local level with individual employers,
at Scottish level in the joint working group set up with the Scottish
Government, the STUC and CoSLA, and directly with employers representative
Note for editors: The survey was carried out during March/April
2009 by sending 286 Questionnaires to members’ home addresses.
55 were received back. Glasgow City Council currently has 17 Children’s
Units with 113 young people looked after in them. Copies of the
results can be obtained from Chris Bartter (below)
For Further Information Please Contact: Chris Bartter (Communications
Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)