Social workers to take six days of strike action

UNISON branch announces dates on which mental health practitioners will walk out, in dispute over retention payments and 'chronic staffing issues'

Post-it note on a table with the word 'STRIKE' written on it
Photo: Markus Mainka/Fotolia

Mental health social workers will take six days of strike action over the next month in a dispute over what their union describes as ‘chronic staffing issues’ in their teams.

The UNISON members at Barnet council will walk out on 26 September and 3, 4, 10, 11 and 12 October, after 100% of those who voted backed strike action in a ballot last month.

The dispute covers the north London borough’s north and south mental health teams and its approved mental health professionals’ service.

In June this year, the union branch reported that nine practitioners had left the mental health teams this year, against a staffing complement of 22.

It also said the teams lacked permanent experienced staff, with four of the seven social workers on the south team being less than two years’ qualified and two of the others being locums.

Retention payments lower than for children’s staff

UNISON is calling for practitioners to receive a 20% market supplement on top of their pay to tackle the retention issues, in line with the 15% to 25% payments received by social workers at the authority’s family services teams.

However, the council has offered £1,000 per year for the next two years to social workers, occupational therapists and team managers in adults’ services, including the mental health teams, which UNISON said was worth an additional 2.5% on average.

One of the social workers said: “Adult mental health social workers have the same qualifications, same skills and the same retention problems as children’s workers. The only difference is the value that Barnet is choosing to place on its workers and the value it places on providing mental health services that are staffed to meet the needs of Barnet’s residents.”

However, in response to the positive strike vote, the council’s deputy leader, Paul Edwards, said its salaries for social workers benchmarked well against comparable authorities and reiterated its current offer to staff.

“We are grateful for the dedication and commitment of all our staff including our mental health social workers and our door is always open for further discussions,” he added.

, ,

12 Responses to Social workers to take six days of strike action

  1. Nunya business September 12, 2023 at 3:31 pm #

    If they are anything like my social worker they don’t deserve the pay they already get. Rude patronising and generally unhelpful. Have had one meeting with her nearly two months ago and she hasn’t replied to my texts at all.

    • Julia September 12, 2023 at 10:38 pm #

      What have you done to establish if yhe social worker is still at the team? There are many reasons you may not have had a response? They may be off sick (yes Social Workers are human too)..Basically anything could have happened to them or theirs.

      We do an INCREDIBLY stressful job with ever changing demands and limited resources.

      What would your Social Worker’s view be of you for instance? Did you immediately respond to her texts?

      Maybe consider exploring some of the above may provide an insight and help you see that the world doesn’t revolve around one person only..Oh and there may just be more than one person in the team who could help you..Pick up the phone..simples!

      • Jay September 14, 2023 at 11:11 pm #

        Do you genuinely believe it is a service users responsibility to do this? If you do, perhaps you are in the wrong profession?

    • Susan September 13, 2023 at 9:20 pm #

      I understand that it’s very frustrating, and you likely have no umderstanding or insight into the levels of work social workers have. They are regularly doing 1 or 2 times their workload, with a lack of resources, poor management, archaic IT systems and equipment, poor working conditions, pressure to achieve government targets which are more of a priority than actually supporting and improving individuals lives, criticism from other professionals and unrealistic expectations about what social workers are legally able to do to support and safeguard. I could go on and on listing things but likely be here all week….

    • Lisa September 14, 2023 at 11:24 am #

      Working with people suffering from mental health is one of the most challenging areas and working under the current pressures to wiithin the health and socal care services, and one of the lowest paid jobs personal opinion is that the mental health socail workers deserve a pay rise.

  2. social worker September 15, 2023 at 11:09 am #

    All of Social work across the UK should be striking. Unison wake up… Social Workers are unhappy. we have been treated poorly for the longest time. Why are we not striking like other professions. How can we advocate for others when we cant advocate for ourselves. Empowerment is our ethos but I don’t see a lot of this happening. Why are Unison selling us down the stream and not challenging the status quo. People are not happy! we are at the mercy of the HSCP where health have taken over our work in particular in Adults and Mental Health. Time for change.

    • Liana September 15, 2023 at 11:27 pm #

      For sure we all need to arrange a strike across the country adults and children social workers.

    • Linda Y September 17, 2023 at 11:13 pm #

      Well said. However the article should refer to every social worker no matter what area they work in. United we stand, divided we fall.

  3. Adult social worker September 16, 2023 at 7:13 am #

    About time

  4. A Social worker September 28, 2023 at 3:35 am #

    Yes all social workers are over worked, in many teams inc children and families, working many hours over what they don’t get paid for. High case loads, it’s meant to be a caring profession but often they don’t care about about their social workers, 24 years in the job, at times your treated badly by managers who expect you to work all hours and don’t give a dam about your welfare, if you try to raise any issues they use it as a stick to beat you with. Still way too much paperwork and time being spent in front of screens and not with the actual clients and lessons not being learnt from serious case reviews. And they wonder why they struggle with staff retention and sickness.

  5. Helen - SW September 28, 2023 at 8:31 pm #

    Unison members were asked to ballot for strike they did not get enough % to take it forward. Therefore SW’s didn’t vote for it! Unison hands therefore tied. What happened to the agreed public sector 6.5% I previously read one article out of a load that did actually mentioned SW’s for once


  1. The Power of Unity: Exploring Social Work Strikes | Nursing Revalidation - September 18, 2023

    […] unions, to withhold their labor temporarily as a means of putting pressure on their employers and policymakers to address their […]