Unison issues warning over council staff workloads

22 Jun 16

Local government staff are under unprecedented pressure across the country due to council cutbacks and staff shortages, the trade union Unison has claimed.

A report based on a survey of over 2,200 union members from across the UK found Whitehall cuts to local authorities were to blame for the stress faced by employees, which risked hitting services.

Unison is one of the largest trade unions in the UK with around 1.3 million members, representing staff who provide public services.

The Under Pressure, Underfunded and Undervalued report found that 75% of those polled said workload and pressure have increased in the last 12 months, while nearly two thirds (63%) believe morale has declined.

The poll of staff, including teaching assistants, librarians and carers also found that one in five of those polled said employers are failing to replace workers when they leave. In addition, nearly two thirds (63%) of local government workers said they had experienced a job review or reorganisation at work that had led to cuts, both in staffing and resources in some cases.

“While investment in employees is often seen as distinct from investment in services, in reality, the two are intrinsically linked,” the report undertaken by Incomes Data Research stated. “Those working in local government are on the front-line of delivering public services, face-to-face and often under difficult circumstances. They keep people safe, housed, educated and cared for. Local government workers tell us that protecting pay and conditions is the most important way to help staff provide those services. This is a message we hope comes out loud and clear from this survey.”

The report was published during the Unison annual local government conference. Head of local government Heather Wakefield said the review had found members “being worked into the ground” due to spending cuts.

“If you neglect the people who empty our bins, who support our children and care for our vulnerable relatives then you neglect the services we all depend upon,” she added.

“Everyone suffers if those on the front line are so stressed and undermined they cannot do their jobs properly.”

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