Time for a split?

Scottish members of the British Association of Social Workers will
vote next week on whether they should end ties with public sector
union Unison and form their own separate social workers’ trade

The vote has been sparked by the fact that social care staff
account for less than a quarter of Unison’s 1.3 million members –
with social workers making up just a fraction of that. In pay
negotiations, this group is lumped together with other local
government workers ranging from planning officers to leisure centre

The move is grounded in frustration with the lack of improvement in
pay and conditions in recent years. But there is also a feeling
that social care staff are being left behind, while nurses,
doctors, police officers and teachers have their own dedicated
unions fighting their respective corners.

Unsurprisingly, Unison has hit back at the idea of a separate
union, dismissing as “nonsense” suggestions that it could lead to a
better deal on pay and conditions for social care staff.

Yet more than 80 per cent of visitors to Community Care‘s
website last week agreed that social care staff should have their
own trade union.

If a majority of members of Scottish Basw share this view, the face
of social work negotiations could be about to change. And, if it
makes sense for Scotland, then why not for workers south of the

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