Monday, February 29, 2016

Violence at Work: Unison Community Conference 2016

The UNISON community conference started on Saturday afternoon after the close of the seminar. I spoke in favour of this motion below.

"Conference, President, John Gray, one of your elected Community NEC members and proud to be a health and safety rep. Moving motion 2 "Violence at Work" on behalf of the SGE.

Conference, the general public is beginning to understanding how vulnerable social care users are to potential abuse. However, what the public doesn't understand, is how due to the lack of investment in training, support and staffing, we now routinely have staff at risk too.

This too is a national scandal. While the HSE, which relies on employers reporting incidents, claim that only 1.3% of workers in caring professions suffer violence at work in one year. Unison’s own research of community members found that nearly half of our members, suffered an incident of violence or aggression over the last 2 years.

Conference, why is this? Why such massive under reporting by employers? Why such under reporting by staff as well? Equally, Why to be honest, did I as a young housing officer, in East London, shrug off the threat by a gang member to put an axe in my head during a messy eviction and not report it? The truth of the matter is that in too many workplaces, and not just social care, there is a problem that violence and aggression, is seen as just being "Part of the job". or“it goes with the territory”. How many times will we hear this?

Even worse than this. Members often mention that the reason why they do not report violence at work, is that they fear being blamed for "allowing" the incident to happen and being told by managers, that if in some way, they were more professional, it wouldn't have happened in the first place.

To top even this, many staff also say that the reason, why they don't report incidents is that they have little or no confidence whatsoever that the employer will do anything about it. So it is a waste of time to report anything.

Conference, while it is a fact that we will face violence and aggression in our work, it is also a fact that something can be done to tackle this and prevent many incidents happening again. If employers (and trade union safety reps) Investigate every incidents and learn what went wrong and what went right. We can learn and do things differently and stop many assualts happening again and again.

Your employer as a legal duty to protect you at work. To protect you at work they need to provide a safe system of work. That safe system of work must be based on them providing proper support and resources to workers to do their job - safely

 Conference we must do 3 things Firstly, make the public aware of what is going on.

 Secondly, we must campaign for zero tolerance of violence at work and make it clear that safety is a collective issue and raise expectations of our members that they feel empowered to report every single incident.

Thirdly, We must try to work with our employers but after a point, as a union, we must name and shame employers who don't provide such support, allow under reporting, don't investigate, don't take action to protect their staff and then also demand that the HSE and Local authorities prosecute the senior managers, executives and board members, who put members health, safety and even lives at risk.

 Conference, I move

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