Trade union Aspect is widening its membership to include social care staff with Steve Anslow, former general secretary of the British Union of Social Work Employees, heading up the new section.
Since last November, 100 social care professionals have joined Aspect, the trade union for professionals in education and children’s services, after it set up a new section in response to calls from the sector to open up its membership to social care.
John Chowcat, general secretary of Aspect, said: “The social care profession needs a specialist voice; it can’t be lost in the general local government field or dominated by industrial interests.”
Chowcat said Aspect’s membership had been evolving for some time, with the move towards linked-up and integrated services in the sector, and now had more than 4,000 members.
He believes Aspect can provide social care staff with an “autonomous specialist voice” at a time when the sector is “on the verge of a major shake-up” with the move towards individualised budgets and the personalisation agenda against a backdrop of “major squeezes on funding”.
The move came as final merger talks take place between the British Union of Social Work Employees (Buswe) and Community.
Buswe, which as of last year had 3,000 members, will merge with Community on 14 April, but it will retain its own identity with Harry Lyons as its general secretary, after Anslow resigned from the post last June.
Community represents 35,000 employees across manufacturing, retail, steel and logistics, as a result of the merger in July 2001 of the ISTC, which represented steel workers, and KFAT, which organised in manufacturing and retail.
Critical of merger
Anslow is critical of Buswe’s decision to join Community. “Community doesn’t turn me on at all. I frankly worry that they are offering to represent people without the knowledge and skills needed. They don’t know how social care works,” he said.
Anslow added that the “demise of Buswe” had taken away the professional voice that the sector had always wanted and needed.
However, a Community spokesperson said: “We are very surprised at Mr Anslow’s comments, since we have already received letters from several Buswe members thanking Community for the enhanced level of representation and support that they have received from Community officials.”