Health workers top table of Brits to face aggression while doing their jobs
FOUR MILLION Brits have experienced violence at work, new figures reveal today as trade unionists mount a show of defiance against attacks on workers’ rights.
A YouGov poll shows that 12 per cent of people — one in eight) have experienced incidents of work-related violence, including employees being punched, spat at or even stabbed.
And Labour is warning that new anti-union laws will only make things worse for aggrieved workers.
Workers who face the public topped the table of the most-affected sectors. Britain’s beloved health service came first, with almost one in four workers falling victim to violence at work.
Twelve per cent of education workers, 11 per cent hospitality staff and 9 per cent of retail workers reported abuse.
But even when violence is not perpetrated by bosses, workers are often dependent on trade unions to ensure they are given adequate protection and time off to recover.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady warned: “Workplace violence is far too common in the UK.
“There is no excuse for physically assaulting someone. Workplaces must be safe for everyone.
“All over the country, union reps play a key role in stopping violence at work and supporting union members who are victims of abuse.
“We need strong unions working with employers to combat unacceptable behaviour and protect workers — and anyone worried about violence in their workplace should join a union today.”
Shockingly, one in five workers who had experienced violence said it had occurred on more than 10 occasions.
Shadow trade unions minister Ian Lavery warned last night that attacks on civil rights in the Tories’ Trade Union Bill, which is currently being pushed through the House of Lords, would weaken workers already under attack.
“These new figures from the TUC show the reality of life for so many people in Tory Britain,” he told the Star.
“And as if the balance of power wasn’t already stacked against workers, the Tories are pushing ahead with the Trade Union Bill to make it even harder for people to have a voice in the workplace.
“With the most vulnerable in society paying the price yet again, it has never been more important to join a trade union. The Tories have shown time and time again that they don’t have workers’ best interests at heart — but trade unions do.”
New advice from the TUC calls on bosses to treat verbal abuse as workplace violence, warning that it can quickly escalate into physical aggression.
Union reps are also calling for workers to be given clear guidance about reporting violence. The TUC said incident report forms should be provided in foreign languages and that workers should be clearly informed on how their complaints will be followed up.
Union activists will launch their Heart Unions initiative today, seeking to blast out a message of defiance and highlight the benefits of collective organising.
Writing in the Star today, Ms O’Grady praises unions for their work in building stronger communities and warns that government attacks will also affect unionised workers.
“The pay deals unions agree often set the going rate for workers in many industries,” she writes.
“And the health and safety precautions they negotiate help keep millions of us safe at work every year.”