Members of BASW - the College of Social Work have voted in favour of establishing a trade union solely for social workers. Members at the association's annual meeting in Birmingham also voted to continue talks over a merger with the College of Social Work.
Some 82% of members voted in favour of creating an independent arm's-length body, to be called the Social Workers Union.
Members would be able to opt into the union at no extra cost, and it would not stop members belonging to other trade unions.
Council member Ronnie Barnes, who proposed the motion, said: "This is a historic move to attempt to heal a divide between those who are members of a union, those who are members of a professional association and, more worryingly, those who are members of neither. It's also an opportunity to get the College of Social Work off on a strong footing."
The historic vote comes a week after BASW - the College of Social Work and the College of Social Work, hosted by the Social Care Institute for Excellence, agreed a memorandum of understanding to merge and form a single organisation.
At the AGM in Birmingham, 94% of members voted to support the memorandum of understanding.
Last November, the College, supported by Scie, announced a joint membership deal with Unison, which outraged leaders of BASW, who threatened to take their counterparts to court, claiming the agreement was illegal.
BASW went on to rebrand itself as BASW - the College of Social Work and in January announced its intention to form a rival college.
However the memorandum commits the two organisations to merging by January 2012. A joint working group has been set up to discuss issues such as the relationship between the single college and trade unions.
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