Children’s social workers in Kirklees will leave their posts for an hour in protest over working conditions at the ‘inadequate’-rated council.
The walkout, which will take place at 3pm on Thursday 2 March, is part of an ongoing dispute between the council and Unison over caseloads, pay and IT systems.
The council was rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in November 2016, and currently has a commissioner reporting on whether children’s services should be moved to an independent trust.
In January, the union called off a planned one-day strike after officials and council leaders agreed to talks.
Paul Holmes, the local Unison branch manager, said little meaningful action had been taken since and his members would be staging the walkout tomorrow to show they “mean business”.
“The council gave out a whole series of dates to meet with them…They were at three week intervals over four months. We said it’s far more urgent than that,” he said.
Holmes claimed there had been little meaningful improvement since Ofsted’s report, and agency staff usage had increased. A director of children’s services appointed last year had also left, he added.
He said a number of social workers were considering quitting the local authority for agency work because “they just can’t deal with it”.
The council said Unison’s explanation for the walkout was “misleading”.
Erin Hill, lead member for children’s services, said: “The schedule and length of meetings between management and union officials to discuss this issue was agreed only the other week – if they thought this was insufficient, I am confused as to why they agreed to it.”
She added: “I want to reiterate my continuing support to staff, whose sterling efforts, under difficult circumstances are hugely appreciated by the council’s leadership. It’s disappointing that Kirklees Unison appear not to share this appreciation.
The council believe that ongoing negotiations will result in agreeing a way forward that offers the best possible outcomes for both the staff involved and families in Kirklees.”