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Social welfare office workers suffer punches and have chairs thrown at them

A union representing workers in Intreo offices said these employees need greater protection.
Apr 23rd 2016, 3:46 PM 26,784 83

A UNION REPRESENTING civil servants has given details of a number of assaults on members of staff at social welfare offices.

At its annual conference, the Civil Public and Service Union (CPSU) supported a motion calling for protection of workers on the frontline who are at risk of attacks.

CPSU financial secretary Des Fagan explained social welfare offices used to have glass screens at counters before they were turned into Intreo services. They were removed in a bid to make the premises seem more inviting and friendly.

“There are offices where there are no problems at all but there are offices where there have been assaults,” he told TheJournal.ie.

In Waterford, a telephone was thrown and nearly hit a member of staff in the head. In Clonmel, a chair was thrown and the assailant threatened to come back with an axe.

He said a young female member of staff at an office in Newcastlewest was hospitalised after a man walked behind the counter and punched her in the head. She was out of work for two weeks afterwards.

“Even the staff who haven’t been involved in these instances have a fear then,” Fagan said.

He said he believes a private company would not take the same risks with staff safety.

“People could be in dire circumstances and it’s understandable that they’d be highly emotive, but obviously we want our members protected.”

Read: Joan’s department recovered €83m in social welfare overpayments last year>

Read: Woman gave birth at Dublin social welfare office>

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Michelle Hennessy

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