Coventry City UNISON note that sickness absence due to stress has risen 10% in the last year. At a time of austerity with many council jobs having been lost and demand for services ever increasing this is no surprise to us. Coventry City UNISON are working with our members to try to address the issue of stress in the workplace and the causes of it. The union will be coming forward with proposals for the council to consider a proper mental health strategy; this is an issue that UNISON has been raising for some considerable time even getting the employer to do some training with MIND but unfortunately for many of our members they have not seen any benefit of this.
Sarah Feeney, Branch Secretary said in response to Cllr Mutton’s comments, “We were very surprised to see Cllr Mutton’s comments regarding his belief that an unnamed union has been encouraging its members to go off sick. The reality is that many of our members who are off sick with stress have needed time away from the workplace to get better. Our considerable experience tells us that it is a matter for the medical profession to determine whether an employee is fit for work and not a trade union. What is more have also consistently raised issues of Equality and Diversity that affect the culture of the work place which in turn impacts on absence. These concerns are well known to the employer.
In a number of cases management inaction for a period of months has led to both the absence and the prolonged nature of it and we would be more than happy to discuss these matters with Cllr Mutton. In respect of his comment about carers taking time off sick for childcare we do not recognise that from our work with our members; in reality a large amount of the sickness total is due to long periods of absence largely due to stress issues. The City Council needs to take seriously the issue of its duty of care to employees that is enshrined in law”