Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/360/5924

From The Socialist newspaper, 4 September 2004

Stress At Work - The Facts

WHILST THE government is content to sit back and watch the right-wing media peddle lies about civil servants, it is well aware of what life is really like for the vast majority of its workforce.

Bernie Lyons

The PCS civil service union has recently published the Whitehall II study which sheds light on the findings of extensive research into the health of over 14,000 civil servants.

University College London (UCL) is carrying out the study, which was begun in 1985 and was asked jointly by the Cabinet Office and the Council of Civil Service Unions to produce a plain English version of the findings to date.

The study quashes the myth that those in the most senior positions in the workplace are more likely to suffer from stress and other illnesses.

Though there was shown to be a strong relationship between health and employment status, it is those in the lower grades of employment who are at far more risk of both physical and mental illness. The more senior you are in the employment hierarchy, the longer you are likely to live.

Little control

In particular danger are workers who face high demands but have little control over their work, regardless of the 'type' of person they are. The study highlights employer and manager support as one way to reduce sickness absence.

Working hard was not considered to be stressful in itself. But high levels of stress were found in those who were not appropriately rewarded through esteem, financial remuneration and career opportunities such as job security and promotion prospects. It showed that those who believe they are subject to unjust procedures and unfair treatment are also more likely to become ill.

Organisational change was highlighted as an area which poses particular risks for the workers involved. It is suggested that change often provides only limited business benefits, at a cost of reducing loyalty, motivation and morale in the workplace. Job insecurity was found to affect workers even after the threat to their job had disappeared. Increased levels of sickness were related to frequent changes, including reorganisation, privatisation and threat of redundancy. Temporary employment too was found to be associated with an increase in premature death.

UCL says that: "Reduction of health inequalities is the current priority for government". However, the reality for civil servants is one of massive job cuts and government attacks on the working conditions of the lowest paid.

This is most obvious in the Department for Work and Pensions, where Chancellor Gordon Brown has promised that 30,000 staff will soon lose their jobs. The government has also introduced a performance pay scheme which discriminates against the most disadvantaged and those on the lowest pay.

Working environment

Of course, the implications of the study extend to other workplaces and to society as a whole. It concludes that patterns of behaviour are conditioned by the environment in which people live and work.

It shows evidence that health is strongly influenced by the work environment, social influences outside work and influences from early life. As it acknowledges, this: "Leads to the uncomfortable (for some) finding that inequalities in health cannot be divorced from inequalities in society."

Of course, the most significant disadvantage for those at low grades is low income. Those on low pay have far less control over things like the place where they live, the food they and their families eat and the types of leisure and social activities in which they can take part.

In other words, low-paid workers experience stress both at work and as result of it. The effects of the conditions experienced during the working life, were also found to continue into retirement. Those who are better off typically report a more satisfying retirement period, with a better standard of health.

PCS is aware of what the findings of this research means for its members and is calling on the government to ensure that illness and work-related stress in particular is avoided in the first place, rather than attempting to solve the problem after it has arisen. Members of other trade unions should put pressure on their leaders to do the same and make it plain to employers that they will not be allowed to damage and disregard the health of those who do the work for them.


Less Hours, Higher Productivity

A RECENT survey by Deloitte has found that France and Germany, where workers have the shortest working week in Europe, are the most productive economies in Europe.

The growth of productivity in Britain has been slower, now below the EU average.

Productivity is a measure of the output per worker. And output is obviously dependent on the amount of investment in plant and machinery the bosses are prepared to make.

The bosses argue that workers should work longer hours for less money to protect profits.

We argue that working hours are not the problem, it's the profit system.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 4 September 2004:

End The Occupation Of Iraq

US Imperialism Further Weakened In Iraq

Mass Protests Greets Bush And Republican Convention

Mark Thatcher And The 'Dogs Of War'


Socialist Party campaigns

Defending the 35-hour week: The Profit System's The Problem, Not The Workers

Stress At Work - The Facts

Picketing Wembley Stadium

Young workers fight to End Low Pay

Low Pay Campaign Taps Into Anger

Scottish nursery nurses: How Our Strike Changed Me

Firefighters' dispute: Employers Climb Down

We Need Your Cash!


International socialist news and analysis

Haiti: A History Of Struggle

Europride

Joe Higgins: Speaking Tour Of Australia

Che Guevara, Motorcycle Diaries, directed by Walter Salles


 

Home   |   The Socialist 4 September 2004   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Health:

triangleSouth London health bosses' cover-up

triangleTotnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

triangleSave our NHS

triangleGlenfield victory shows people power can save our NHS

triangleVictory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

Stress:

triangleOne in four teenage girls depressed - crisis made worse by cuts

triangleThe stress and hardship faced by nurses

triangleWelsh college strike against crippling workload

triangleSheffield mental health campaigner: "austerity kills"

Pay:

triangleRetail sector crunch: nationalise to save jobs

triangleLocal government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

triangleDemonstrations by uni students and staff greet Bath vice-chancellor resignation

Environment:

triangleCarbon dioxide hits 800,000-year high: end profit-driven pollution

triangleOpposition to new academy school being built on Leeds playing fields

Civil Service:

triangleDriving examiners walkout hits first day of new test

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

13/12/17

Woolwich

Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

13/12/17

Devon

Totnes MP uses coffin controversy to distract from brutal NHS cuts

13/12/17

Miners

Tory plan to hold dinner at coal mining museum defeated

13/12/17

Bradford

Bradford campaign to save children's services launched

13/12/17

Housing

Six months on - still no justice for Grenfell

13/12/17

Fracking

Movement growing against fracking giant Ineos

13/12/17

South London

South London health bosses' cover-up

13/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite day of action against blacklisting

13/12/17

Brighton

Brighton victory

13/12/17

Newham

Newham anti-academies strikes

13/12/17

Tamil Solidarity

Tamil Solidarity and Refugee Rights activists meeting

7/12/17

Blacklisting

Unite protest against blacklisting

7/12/17

RMT

Anti-DOO lobby of Liverpool's transport committee

6/12/17

Donald Trump

Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain

6/12/17

Transport

Arriva bus strikers stand firm

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle13 Dec Support the Crossrail Woolwich walkout

triangle8 Dec Local government pay: fight for the 5% claim, fully funded

triangle6 Dec Strikers rally in Liverpool

triangle6 Dec Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme

triangle5 Dec Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS

triangle5 Dec Labour council Blairites deselected

triangle30 Nov Victory: Glenfield Children's Heart Centre saved!

More ...

triangle13 Dec Caerphilly Socialist Party: Are we heading for an era of war?

triangle14 Dec Wakefield Socialist Party: Universal Credit - the Tories' latest assault on the poor

triangle18 Dec Leeds Socialist Party: Religion and Socialism

triangle19 Dec Bristol North Socialist Party: Christmas social

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2