Council home care workers are ‘petrified’ about going to their work

Masks may seem to be everywhere, but here they are in short supply along with other PPE equipment. Pictures by Bill Heaney

By Bill Heaney

The confident message given by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in her address to the nation at the outset as to how Scotland would be able to cope with the coronavirus appears to be either a gross exaggeration or a travesty of the truth.

Concern is mounting amongst many people in lockdown and social distancing and those valiant NHS and council workers struggling to cope with what is happening.

At least that is according to the picture that appears from a GMB trade union survey in West Dunbartonshire, where the SNP are in charge of the Council.

GMB representative David Scott has just published the results of a Q&A put to their members here, and they are illuminating.

They bear no resemblance to the “Aye Ready” message which First Minister Nicola Sturgeon broadcast to the nation.

GMB rep David Scott.  Here are the results of our GMB survey:

Do you believe that you are being put at risk as a result of not being given a face mask?

92.3% Yes

Have you been given a risk assessment recently in relation to Covid19  and carrying out your role?

88.5% No

Do you feel safe and supported in doing your job by the Council right now with the Covid_19 pandemic?

84.6% No

Is anxiety about PPE making you reconsider going into work to do your job?

78.2% Yes

More than 200 workers were canvassed for their answers to the survey which is still open.

Allan Kane  said: “A very good return. Especially considering the circumstances.”

Craig Denver asked: “What will the GMBs next step be?

David Scott told him: “Probably to keep pressure on Scottish Government to deliver fit and proper PPE to carers, which they require to do their role safely.”

Asked what his advice would be to home carers that still need to go to work, David Scott said: “As always, speak to your line manager and discuss any concerns you may have with them first. If not then contact your union.”

Craig Denver said: “It’s clear people need face masks. Staff don’t want to put themselves at risk or the people they have to visit.”

Stephen Neeson asked how the Council managers would even begin to do a risk assesment on exposure to covid 19?

“A generic R A wouldnt cover it. Each department, even each worker would have to be individually risk assessed according to their job.”

Cllr Jim Bollan commented: “The partial results of the GMB survey are[in line with]  the general feedback I am getting from Council workers.”

Shirley Furie told Jim Bollan that “workers are petrified. It’s no’ fair.”

But Jim Bollan told her: “I realise that and share their concerns.  I have raised the matter twice with senior management, but to date the answers have been evasive.”

He added: “The worrying aspect for Council workers who have direct contact with the public is anybody can have the virus without showing any symptoms, therefore the precautionary principles need to be adopted. [We must have] PPE for all front line workers.”

Craig Denver said the whole social care service would be placed in jeopardy if just one worker, who was not provided with the proper PPE equipment, were to contract the virus.

Every worker should have full PPE before having contact with any clients. – “Who is to know if a person has full blown coronavirus or is in the early stages and doesn’t know? [We should] protect everyone. Even by supplying them with a clean set of PPE as they go from one house to another.”


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