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Wednesday 22 December 2010

UNISON Scotland urges MSPs to support Protection of Workers Bill

UNISON Scotland has urged MSPs not to turn their backs on those who face violence at work and to support a Bill to protect them.

MSPs will debate the Protection of Workers (Scotland) Bill at stage one in Parliament today (Wednesday, December 22) and will decide whether or not the Bill should proceed to stage two.

Violent incidents at work are a major problem in Scotland. UNISON Scotland’s annual Violence at Work survey highlighted more than 30,000 recorded incidents in the public sector last year alone. However, as not all violent incidents are reported, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Last month, the Economy Energy and Tourism Committee recommended that Parliament should oppose the Bill, claiming it would not extend the protection currently available to workers under the common law. But, as the committee recognised, there is no statistical evidence that this approach works. UNISON believes incidents involving uniformed staff may be taken more seriously than the lower level – but just as traumatic – incidents which involve thousands of our members and fall below the radar of current criminal law provisions.

UNISON believes legislation is only part of the solution and must go hand-in-hand with public awareness campaigns, workplace measures and criminal legislation.

Dave Watson, UNISON’s Scottish Organiser, said: “Each year, thousands of dedicated staff providing vital services in our communities are being assaulted at work. These people deserve stronger legal protection and better protective measures and MSPs can not turn their backs on these workers.

“While legislation on its own is not enough, it is part of the solution and sends a clear message that violence against workers is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our society. We therefore urge MSPs to take this matter seriously and to support this Bill to protect workers from violence.”


Notes to editors

1. Click here to view UNISON’s Violence at Work Survey (PDF)

2. For further details on the Bill, visit the UNISON Scotland Health and Safety page at www.unison-scotland.org.uk/safety/index.html

For further information contact:
Dave Watson, Scottish Organiser, on 07958 122 409
Trisha Hamilton, Communications Officer, on 0141 342 2877 / 07939 478 461