Union consults residential care workers on strike action

Unison in Glasgow is consulting members about possible strike
action amongst residential care workers.

Brian Smith, convenor of the social work shop stewards in
Glasgow, said: “We are deeply concerned about a range of issues
– absenteeism, low staffing and increasing violence to
staff.” Unison is consulting members in all of Glasgow
Council’s residential units, and the next stage may be
balloting the membership on strike action.

Smith said: “The social work department continues to plan for
too low staffing levels. In six residential childcare units there
are rotas for one member of staff to be on duty at key times
leaving them open to violence or accusations of abusing the
children. This situation is intolerable.”

He also said morale is low and absenteeism is high. This latter
point is refuted by Glasgow Council, which claims that the vacancy
rate in care homes throughout Scotland is running at over 12 per
cent while in Glasgow it is 6.8 per cent.

Difficulties in recruiting qualified staff into residential care
in Glasgow, he said, combined with the high vacancy rate results in
shifts being covered by overtime causing many staff to breach the
EU time directive of a 48-hour maximum working week.

The council acknowledges this difficulty, but believes that the
problem is less in Glasgow than in other social work

Smith said: “Glasgow City Council increased its budget by 7 per
cent this year, but the effects are not evident in residential
care. We are going through a transition towards more
community-based resources and residential staff worry that they
will not have a job in the future. The uncertainty exacerbates the
long term problems.”

A Glasgow Council spokesperson said: “We are not lax about
absence amongst social workers. It is in the best interests of our
clients, individual staff members and council services as a whole,
that levels of absence are reduced.”

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