A FOSTER couple are set to launch a landmark legal battle that could see carers across Scotland receive workers’ entitlements including sick pay, pensions and holiday pay.

It comes as carers, who look after some of society’s most in-need children, say they are bullied, threatened and blacklisted if they ask for support from local authorities who manage foster placements.

Now Jimmy and Christine Johnston, from Knightswood, plan to launch an employment tribunal case against Glasgow City Council in the hope of changing the rights of foster carers across Scotland.

The 54-year-olds are being supported by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) which set up a branch for foster carers last year.

The tribunal outcome will set a precedent for others and could see foster carers being recognised as employees, giving them more rights.

Jimmy and Christine have been looking after some of the most vulnerable and traumatised children as part of Glasgow’s Team Foster Care initiative.

However one placement left them in fear for their own safety, as well as that of the child they were looking after.

Jimmy explained: “ It was a very difficult placement we had.

“That’s who we work with and we don’t have a problem with that, but things got really bad.

“We let our managers know and asked for help.

“We were offered extra help and respite but the next day another member of the management team told us if we need any extra breaks we had to use annual leave.

“That was a kick in the teeth.”

For months Christine and Jimmy say they were sleeping on their sofa due to the conditions their home had been left in, and the child was still in their care.

They were concerned about their own health, as well as that of the foster child.

Jimmy explained: “We complained and we were harassed. We were called in to three-hour-long meetings asking if we had ‘lost trust’ in the department.

“We said we just needed some extra help. It left us with no other option than to seek legal advice.”

A spokesman for the council said it would be inappropriate to comment on the specific case before it is considered at an employment tribunal.

He added: “However, we can say we provide comprehensive support to our foster carers.

“Our fostering service is regulated by the Care Inspectorate and has recently received a positive inspection report.

“Issues raised by foster carers are always taken seriously and we will work with carers to resolve any difficulties they face.

“We only seek to deregister carers in a tiny minority of cases and only when there are significant concerns about the care being provided.”

A report by the Fostering Network for 2016 highlighted the issues faced by some foster carers across the country who have not received support when they asked for help. This is also echoed by the IWGB’s foster carers union branch.

Jane Wright, Scotland organiser union, said she receives calls every week from Scottish foster carers about similar issues.

She said: “There are carers who are threatened by children with knives, carers who have to deal with very aggressive behaviour from children who are struggling to understand their situations.

“There are children who will wilfully damage homes as their frustrations are so high.

“When those behaviours happen you need outside assistance and often are told ‘you didn’t handle that very well.’

“If you complain, the phrase which they tend to use is that the person has ‘lost trust in the department’ and people would stop getting placements.

“As you are only paid if you have a child in place, you cannot afford to keep being a foster carer.”