The British Association of Social Workers has rejected the offer of its rival, the College of Social Work, to return to the table for mediation talks.
BASW, which has rebranded as BASW – the College of Social Work, called the other body’s partnership with Unison unlawful, and repeated its threat to take legal action over the right to use the “College of Social Work” name.
Fran Fuller, chair of the BASW college, wrote to her counterparts rejecting the offer of third-party mediation talks.
She accused the College of failing to answer questions over the legal issues arising from the Unison deal and the company name. “I have to inform you that the directors of our company require a proper response,” she wrote. “In these circumstances we do not believe that any mediator could possibly be expected to undertake any work.”
Fuller added that the partnership with Unison, under which the union would provide advice and representation services on behalf of the college, “appears to compromise your independence”.
Maurice Bates, interim co-chair of the reform board’s college, said in response: “We are seriously disappointed that the chair of BASW has today refused our offer of mediation. We reaffirm our desire to talk to BASW members and our door is open to them.”
A spokesperson for the reform board’s college said the London-based Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution, which specialises in resolving disputes between organisations, had been approached as a possible mediator.
Last week, Fuller told the co-chairs in a letter: “BASW has no confidence in
the way that you and the interim board have conducted business in relation to the development of a College of Social Work.”
In an open letter to BASW members, the interim board said it had been advised that the Unison deal was legal.
“It is possible that the BASW council are misinformed about the nature of the deal,” the board wrote.
“We have asked Unison to look into providing gateway deals to other trade unions.”
In a separate development, the BASW college has written to Moira Gibb, chair of the Social Work Reform Board, to complain about the behaviour of its rival.
Fuller pointed out that she and her colleagues heard of the agreement with Unison was one hour before a press release was issued.
“BASW do not believe that this is an ethical way to do business,” she wrote. “BASW would never treat any other organisation in this underhand way. BASW will not work with an organisation which is prepared to treat anyone with such contempt.”
Fuller added: “We have no time to waste debating absurd statements from a discredited organisation which has no legal name, no standing and is sustained only by public money which could be put to better use.”
The interim board said in its letter that it had received “start-up funds” from the government, which were being overseen by the Social Care Institute for Excellence.
“Once The College is an independent legal entity, almost all its income will come from membership subscriptions.”
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