Our members have been under sustained attack as part of the government’s perfect storm of ideological driven cuts to jobs, services, pay and pensions. As part of the Stormont House Agreement the government pledged to cut 20,000 public sector jobs over a four year period. This commitment was restated within the “Fresh Start” Agreement. We have already seen the impact this is having in the Northern Ireland Civil Service with 3,200 jobs due to be lost through the Voluntary Exit Scheme by the end of March 2016. On top of this we have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs lost in other areas of the public sector such as Housing, Voluntary and Community sector, Health, Education and Libraries with many more to follow. As part of the “Fresh Start” Agreement we will also see a complete overhaul of the welfare system with the implementation of the Welfare Reform Bill.
The impact on the staff remaining will be substantial and a major health, safety and wellbeing issue. The increase in stress related cases in recent years has coincided with cuts in public services and job losses. As well as causing anxiety and uncertainty among the workforce it has also led to increases in workloads, with less staff being asked to do more. According to a survey conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (GB) in 2012 the number one cause of stress is increases in workload. However they also show that lack of support and control, changes at work, role uncertainty, violence and bullying (all possible symptoms of job cuts) are significant factors.
With this publication, we hope to highlight the dangers of stress in the workplace that members are placed under, due to the myriad of cuts to our public services, and offer solutions how NIPSA Health and Safety representatives can help those affected.