Stress and Overwork

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2016 Local Government Service Group Conference
26 February 2016

Conference we remain concerned at the cuts and extreme pressures on local government workers and the real crisis in Councils across the UK, and support the need for more resources and investment by Scottish and UK Governments.

The Westminster government’s slash and burn response to the economic crisis, and their austerity measures have resulted in drastic financial cuts to the public sector. Public sector employers are being forced to make radical cost savings. It is no surprise that the first attacks being made are to staffing levels, and terms and conditions of employment.

Our members are experiencing an intolerable increase in workloads, staffing levels cut to the bone and morale at rock bottom. Voluntary severance schemes see staff leaving the service but not being replaced, creating additional pressure and workloads for our members who remain. Yet very few employers have carried out Stress Risk Assessments for groups of workers who are affected.

The cuts to public services have led to an agenda of constant organisational change resulting in increased stress levels and other detrimental effects on the health safety and wellbeing of the workforce. This has also led to a massive increase in workload for branch activists and officers a significant increase in stress, absence management, capability and mental health casework and issues.

In Scotland within the two biggest local authorities, Glasgow has announced cuts of £133 million over two years with the possibility of another 3,000 job cuts, over 10% of the workforce. Edinburgh have announced cuts of £160 million over 4 years with 2,000 jobs cut. The slaughter of our members jobs across Scotland is an absolute scandal and must be resisted with all means at our disposal.

Members in Scotland are facing increased work demands due to cuts in the local authority workforce across the country. The demands on public services are also increasing due to the consequence of the economic crisis just as the workforce decreases. In addition our members often come under pressure to adopt new cost-cutting working practices under the guise of ‘modernisation’ or ‘service reform’ which have little or nothing to do with improving services to the Scottish people. Many members are coming under increased pressure to carry out paid and unpaid overtime.

Conference agrees we must step up our efforts and continue to support our members and activists against the austerity agenda. Supporting our members both collectively and individually to challenge the issues and to say NO! to stress and overwork.

We therefore ask the Service Group Executive to:

1)Secure more resources to help support our branch activists; including additional training and development, produce campaigning materials, briefings, recruitment of new activists etc;

2)Campaign and put pressure on all LG employers to adopt and implement robust and effective work demand/workload management schemes;

3)Work with employers to ensure Stress Risk Assessments are completed for occupational groups and service areas;

4)Continue to publicise the brutal impact of austerity on the local government sector and our members who deliver it;

5)Continue to pressurise and lobby both Scotland and Westminster governments for more funding in local government.