Unison warns of further strike risk

    Strike action by more than 100 social workers in the London
    Borough of Newham last week was a “wake up call” to the council,
    Unison said.

    Unison members voted to strike earlier this month in protest at
    the council’s decision to make extra payments of £1,000 only
    to social workers in the children in need team. Unison has argued
    that all social workers should receive the payment.

    The depth of discontent among staff was illustrated by the fact
    that senior practitioners and team managers went on strike
    alongside front-line staff, said Michael Gavan, branch chairperson
    of Newham Unison.

    “It’s clear that most social work staff have lost confidence in
    the way management is dealing with this,” he said. “Unless the
    council is prepared to sit down and negotiate fairly, we will
    escalate the action further.”

    Staff morale is at rock bottom and turnover is high, Gavan
    added. “Unless the department stops taking staff for granted, the
    implications are unsustainable caseloads and users suffering.”

    Newham social services director Kathryn Hudson said: “Services
    were not disrupted thanks to the commitment and support of most of
    our staff, who came to work as usual that day.

    “We will continue to negotiate with the unions to try and
    satisfactorily resolve the situation for all our staff and

    Another strike is set for next month, unless negotiations are

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