A "toxic cocktail" of cutbacks and violence against public-service workers has resulted in a huge increase in the number of violent incidents reported to employers, a trade union claimed today.
Unison Scotland's annual survey of violence reported to public-service employers found 34,739 such incidents last year - almost 15,000 more than when it was first conducted in 2006.
Unison Scotland's health and safety committee chairman Scott Donohoe said: "The biggest increase in violent incidents is happening in those council services that are facing the brunt of spending cuts.
"Staff are stretched too thinly, dealing with service users facing cuts in the services they rely on.
"This is a toxic cocktail that is putting hard-pressed workers at greater risk of violent assault."
Unison's Scottish organiser Dave Watson said: "The latest figures demonstrate an appalling level of violent incidents faced by staff who are simply doing their job."
The report revealed that 34,739 staff reported violent incidents last year.
This compares with 20,000 incidents when the first survey was undertaken in 2006.
The figure for local government rose by 2,257 to 14,274 in the last year, despite there being around 7,000 fewer staff working for councils.
NHS incidents fell by 967 to 10,974 - though some employers were unable to produce figures this year.
Dave Watson criticised Scotland's two largest health boards, Glasgow and Lothian, which both failed to produce figures for violent incidents.
"If they can't produce decent statistics, they cannot be tackling the problem," he said.
Mr Watson called for employers to redouble their efforts to protect workers.
"And the Scottish government must play its role by strengthening the criminal law," he said.
The Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act passed in 2006 made it a specific offence to attack or hinder an emergency worker in performance of their duties.
Unison argues that due to the limited scope of the law, few violent incidents result in criminal action - a total of 324 in the last year, up by by 44.
Efforts to address this were blocked by the Scottish government when they opposed Labour MSP Hugh Henry's Protection of Workers Bill in the Scottish Parliament in the last session.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.
Lord Feldman says that he didn't call grassroots Tories "mad swivel-eyed loons" while his accusers stand by their stories that he did.
As Aslef's annual assembly of delegates begins in Edinburgh tomorrow the general secretary explains the challenges his members - and workers across the country - face
France is the latest to face clamour from the EU to enforce crippling 'structural reforms.' The medicine is killing the patient