Social workers in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland, are voting on possible strike action over unsafe working conditions caused by under-staffing.
Local union officials from Unison have warned that social workers fear their service is at “crisis point” as there are currently around 250 children without an allocated worker. Staff in the area have warned that the council face a “Baby P-type incident” if measures aren’t taken to address the dangerous working conditions caused by dozens of social work positions remaining vacant.
The situation has become so dire that social workers have felt the need to consider strike action. Votes are being cast throughout this week and a final decision on whether to take action or not is expected by Monday the 15th April.
Speaking to local press, a spokesperson for the council has responded to the concerns raised by social workers and said:
“We continue to work with staff and their trade union representatives to both maintain and improve services. We have listened to and are addressing the concerns they have raised”
“Recruitment is well underway, including for social worker posts which will not be vacant until the end of May. Interviews are arranged over the next fortnight and in the meantime agency staff have been approved to provide cover until the posts are filled”
“We would like to reassure our residents that every case reported to social work is screened, prioritised and allocated to staff”
“Our offer includes providing additional experienced staff from other areas to support the children and families team; identifying additional work bases in Alexandria in Dumbarton; supplying new laptops to support home working; carrying over leave until June and paying staff for time off in lieu of more than 14 hours.”
Speaking out about the prospect of taking industrial action and not coming into work, a social worker employed by the council (who wishes to remain anonymous) explained that:
“Members of the public and service users have been 100 per cent supportive” and “staff remain very, very strong”
“There’s no sense (the issues are) being addressed at all or (the council) are taking on the trade union’s concerns. The membership is prepared to see this through to the bitter end.”