West Dunbartonshire Social Work staff  vote to go on strike

UNISON logoBy Democrat reporter

Social work staff in West Dunbartonshire have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action, claiming unsafe practices and unacceptable workloads are putting vulnerable people at risk.

UNISON have announced the result of its consultative ballot which revealed a massive 92.3 per cent voted to take strike action. And 100 per cent of those who took part in the ballot voted in favour of action short of strike action. UNISON’s consultative ballot of Children and Families Social Work staff had a turnout of 87.8 per cent.

Simon Macfarlane, UNISON regional organiser, said: “This is a phenomenal result and clearly illustrates the resolve of our members to stand up to unacceptable workloads and unsafe practices in West Dunbartonshire. This is about the safety of workers and vulnerable children and their families and our members are to be congratulated for taking a stand.”

UNISON  is calling for immediate action to put an end to short staffing, unacceptable workloads, unallocated cases and unsuitable arrangements for access meetings.

Simon continued: “Management must heed this crystal clear message from our members and we will not hesitate to move to a formal industrial action ballot to keep our members safe. This is the reality of needless austerity in 2019, workers at breaking point and at-risk children unsupported.

“We have raised our concerns beyond West Dunbartonshire and welcome that Peter Macleod, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate and Lorraine Gray, chief executive of the Scottish Social Services Council, have both confirmed they are raising the matter with the council and the Health and Social Care Partnership. It is now time for the council administration and management to act and ensure the safety of workers, children and families.”

Meanwhile, the Dumbarton Reporter is carrying an exclusive story on Social Work services.

It says that a child in care was left sleeping on a sofa for three months.
A whistleblower alerted the Care Inspectorate because the young person had been in that accommodation since January.

They told the Reporter the youngster had no privacy because of a lack of facilities and West Dunbartonshire is one of the few authorities in the country to still have shared rooms in residential units.

The whistleblower said about 45 social workers across residential units have been raising their concerns. The young person is understood to have been moved just recently.

“Staff are at their wits end. The violence in some of these places is outrageous. It’s a resources issue and financial issue. It’s almost child abuse in itself.”

A spokesman for the Care Inspectorate confirmed they were looking into the reports.

He said: “A concern has been raised with us about this service and we are considering all the information given to us carefully.

“Where we uphold a complaint, we publish the outcome on our website and outline what needs to improve.”

A council spokeswoman told the Reporter: “While it would be inappropriate to comment on any individual young person, our staff and managers are dedicated to providing caring, nurturing home environments for all looked after young people.

“Changes to our provision in recent months include moving away from shared rooms which, at times, may be used to keep sibling groups together.

“We continue to work positively with colleagues from the Care Inspectorate around safe staffing levels that reflect the needs of our young people.”

Community activist Louise Robertson said: “Once again West Dunbartonshire is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.”


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