Violence at Work – It’s Not Part of the Job!

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2022 Local Government Service Group Conference
18 February 2022

Conference is deeply concerned at the violence, including threats and physical violence, that is shown towards those working in local government.

The latest Health & Safety Executive statistics show that around 307,000 adults of working age in employment experienced violence at work, with an estimated 688,000 individual incidents of violence.

According to the Labour Force Survey latest estimates of workers who are injured at work as a result of physical acts of violence, show that on average around 46,000 workers in Great Britain sustained non-fatal injuries. This accounts for about 8% of all workplace non-fatal injuries. Furthermore, the survey shows that around 9 out of 10 workers who sustain an injury resulting from violence at work are employed in public services with the human health and social care sector showing a high proportion of those injuries.

The pandemic has presented a new act of violence with the risk of infection for example customers refusing to adhere to social distancing measures which makes staff feel uncomfortable and at risk of infection. This will be even more the case now Covid measures have been rolled back but infection rates remain high. In addition, with the move to home working or hybrid working, members now take abusive phone calls or receive abusive emails whilst in their own homes, which can feel like a real intrusion of privacy.

Conference further recognises that those with a protected characteristic are more likely to experience incidents of violence at work including in the form of discrimination and harassment.

Conference notes the work of UNISON’s Community Voluntary Sector in drafting, and getting employers to sign up to, UNISON’s End Violence at Work Charter. This provides clear standards that employers are expected to meet and provides a model for all UNISON branches to consider in their discussions with the employer.

Conference further notes the work being undertaken by UNISON in regard to violence shown towards those working in our libraries.

Yet despite all this good work, violence towards UNISON members working within local government continues to rise, with those working within the social care sector being most at risk.

This Conference calls on the Local Government Service Group Executive to:

1)Review and amend UNISON’s Violence at Work Charter to ensure that it is appropriate to be used in a local government environment;

2)Ensure that all UNISON Self-Organised Groups are fully involved in the review and amendment of the Violence at Work Charter;

3)Promote UNISON’s Violence at Work Charter to all local government Branches and members;

4)Extend the work currently being undertaken in regard to violence shown towards those working in our libraries to cover all local government workers;

5)Develop a national campaign to promote the work of those working in local government which encourages the public to value and respect those workers and shows that any violence shown against an individual will not be tolerated.