SOCIAL workers have voted to consider industrial action for the second time this year over concerns for children and families in Dumbarton and the Vale.

Members of the Unison union at a meeting last week unanimously backed renewing their ballot to keep pressure on West Dunbartonshire Council (WDC).

They condemned the “slow progress” to address “alarming issues” and “management treating people with contempt”.

Social workers voted overwhelmingly to strike earlier this year after anger on workloads, working environments and health and safety issues.

Staff have been warning for months about the effect of closing their Alexandria base and merging two social work teams into Clydebank’s Aurora House. There is also a severe staff shortage, they claim. And union bosses warned lives were being put at risk with almost 250 unallocated cases.

Read more: Threat of social workers’ strike is suspended after crucial talks

Council bosses later promised to recruit 12.5 new social workers and look again at premises for working with children and families in Dumbarton.

One worker told the Reporter: “Unallocated cases remain high. We still have a long way to go.

“We are not anywhere near far enough forward. There is no resolution to the dispute certainly and that’s mainly down to a lack of confidence in the leadership.

“Members are getting fed up with deadlines. The timescales are all missed by management at every turn.

“Management is treating members with contempt. The membership is raging.”

The Reporter also revealed earlier this year how a child in care was left sleeping on a sofa for three months and a whistleblower alerted the Care Inspectorate over concerns.

Read more: Child in West Dunbartonshire left to sleep on unit sofa for three months in social work crisis

A Unison spokesman said: “Members within the children and families section of West Dunbartonshire HSCP remain dismayed and dissatisfied at the slow progress made to fully address what they feel are alarming issues. Unison members believe that the progress that has been made has be achieved due to the overwhelming mandate we have to take industrial action if necessary. “

“Members now wish to renew that mandate to maintain the pressure to see matters progress to a full resolution.

“Unison will continue to campaign, taking required action if necessary, on behalf of the community, service users and staff for quality and sufficient resources that meet the demands of West Dunbartonshire.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We have been working closely with staff and trade unions since the beginning of the year to address their concerns on staffing levels, workloads and working environments and we remain committed to fully resolving this matter.

"Significant progress has been made with work continuing to recruit to the remaining vacant posts, interviews taking place this month and advertising ongoing. 

"New interim office and contact space has been developed in Dumbarton and 16 options for permanent space are being assessed.

"We have advised children and families staff that the top scoring options will be shared with them as soon as this process is complete.

"Our focus remains on delivering the best possible service for the families in our community who need our help most.”

Meanwhile, the union said Scotland’s social workers repeated violence at work was a major issue among staff, with two thirds having experienced physical or verbal abuse at work. Only one third of those who had experienced abuse knew of a risk assessment following that abuse.

Unison’s national survey found 76 per cent said their social work teams didn’t have enough staff, 82 per cent said their workload had increased in recent years, and 89 per cent were working late or skipping breaks to keep on top of the work.