A survey of some 700 front line workers in the social services sector has revealed high rates of stress, deteriorating health and safety conditions and - most disturbingly - increased incidents of violence at work.
The survey was conducted by CUPE’s Research and Health and Safety Branches as a pilot project in Ontario this past summer and will be undertaken in other provinces.
Among the survey’s findings:
- Almost three-quarters (71 per cent) reported they were subjected to a combination of physical assaults, verbal abuse and threats at work. That’s an increase from 65 per cent reported in a 1993 survey.
- Finding the balance between work and family life is difficult. Forty per cent had children in childcare and 19 per cent had respon-sibilities for adult dependent care.
- Fully one-half reported their physician suggested their symp-toms were caused by work.
- Eighty-seven per cent said their workload has increased in the past year. Unpaid work is the equivalent of 630 positions for CUPE members in the social services sector.
“The findings in this study are disturbing to say the least,” said CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan. “Our members on the front line of social services have been reporting these workload increases for six years now - and nothing is being done about it.”
“We call on the Minister to act in a decisive manner to address the appalling work environment facing workers in this sector,” said Ryan,