Paisley Daily Express
Pandemic has ‘taken its toll’ on stressed council staff
Council workers who have maintained l i feline ser vices t h roughout the Covid- 19 pandemic are struggling with stress, a new report reveals.
The survey of 12,000 people working in local government across the country shows that 82 per cent are experiencing an increase in stress, with 44 per cent stating that increase was substantial.
But Renfrewshire Council says it has a host of measures in place to support its workers who have gone above and beyond over the past 12 months.
Trade union Unison commissioned the survey which had responses from a host of people in varied roles including care workers, school support staff, early years workers, social workers and housing staff.
Almost a third of them (27 per cent) said they had sought medical assistance due to the impact this past year has had on their mental health.
Unison said the findings should be a “stark wake-up call” to all local authorities across the country.
Mark Ferguson, chairman of Unison Scotland’s local government committee and former secretary of the Renfrewshire branch, said: “We know that our members have been going above and beyond to keep our local services running during the pandemic but this report shows the impact this past year has had on their health.
“COSLA and the Scottish Government have frequently praised their efforts but it is clear that more needs to be done to support our members and to recognise their efforts through their pay and reward.”
The Unison survey also revealed that four in ten employees had seen no change in the level of support provided to them by their employer compared to pre-covid.
One in ten said they had actually contracted Covid-19 themselves.
Johanna Baxter, Unison Scotland’s head of local government, added: “With almost a third of workers reporting that they have had to seek medical assistance because of the impact of the past year on their mental health, these findings should be deeply troubling for local authorities across Scotland.
“This report lays bare the enormous sacrifices these workers have made to keep our services going – forgoing their own annual leave, coming into work even when they have suffered bereavements themselves and adapting to changes in the workplace and their own roles.
“Urgent action is needed right now to support these frontline workers and provide them with the reward and recognition that they deserve.”
A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “We recognise the exceptional effort all our colleagues have demonstrated in particular over the last 12 months and have ensured a number of measures in place to provide a range of supports for staff, whether that is support for physical or mental health and a wide range of advice services.”