May 21, 2019
A confidential survey of 850 members of Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, claims that there is an epidemic of stress related illness and massive mental health issues among people employed by charities and non-governmental organisations. The survey found that 80 percent of respondents said that they had experienced workplace stress in the previous 12 months, while 42 percent of respondents said their job was not good for their mental health.
Organisations where Unite received responses include: Citizens Advice, Action for Children, Age UK, RSPCA, Save the Children, Oxfam, Mind, Amnesty International, Amnesty International Secretariat, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, Action Aid International and UK, Samaritans, CAFOD, War on Want, Global Justice, Terrence Higgins Trust, British Heart Foundation, Stroke Association, Diabetes UK and Greenpeace UK.
44 percent of respondents didn’t believe they worked for a well-managed organisation
Overall, 44 percent of respondents didn’t believe they worked for a well-managed organisation, over a third (34 percent) didn’t feel valued at work and four in 10 (40 percent) didn’t feel their job was secure. Over one in five (22 percent) of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement ‘I work in a safe and healthy working environment’.
Although many respondents report poor morale in their organisation, 92 percent also stated that they ‘believed in the work they do. Indicating the organisation’s concerned are often tempted to exploit the goodwill of their workforce. In response to the survey Unite is stepping up its efforts to ensure that its representatives have the tools to tackle stress and mental health problems in the workplace. A guide to how representatives can challenge employers on workplace issues that cause mental health problems and stress has been produced. Reps are also being encouraged to sign up for mental health awareness training.
Unite national officer for charities and the voluntary sector Siobhan Endean said: “The survey’s findings are profoundly disturbing. While some charities and NGOs are committed to ensuring their staffs’ welfare it is clear many are not. Staff employed by charities and NGOs tend to be very committed to their organisation and are usually loath to speak out as their fear it will damage the cause they work for. However, many workers are clearly at breaking point.
“It is impossible to get away from the stark fact that the catastrophic cumulative impact of austerity cuts on the sector and mismanagement of dedicated and passionate workers is making them ill and creating widespread misery. However, this is no excuse for them to challenge the long hours, excessive workloads and bullying which members say is a huge factor in mental health and stress problems. They must stop exploiting the goodwill of their workers. It is impossible to get away from the stark fact that catastrophic mismanagement of dedicated and passionate workers is making them ill and creating widespread misery.”