Social workers go back on strike as dispute remains unresolved

Adult practitioners in city authority return to picket line over pay inequalities with children's counterparts, as council says it is working on possible solution

Adult social workers on strike in Brighton and Hove in November 2023
Adult social workers on strike in Brighton and Hove in November 2023 (credit: James Pike)

Adult social workers have gone back on strike at a city council in their dispute over pay inequalities with children’s counterparts.

The UNISON members at Brighton & Hove council returned to the picket line today (14 December) for a two-day strike after saying there had been a lack of meaningful negotiations since their first walkout last month.

The practitioners, of whom over 100 are represented by UNISON, are calling for parity with children’s colleagues, who receive a 12.5% market supplement on top of salary.

‘Disappointing’ delay to negotiations

Branch secretary Corinna Edwards-Colledge said the union had faced delays obtaining data from the council on areas such as turnover and agency spend, delaying negotiations, which she described as “disappointing”.

“The last thing our members want to do is strike, but the only reason they are escalating this
dispute is to protect jobs and services,” she added.

“The only way to settle this dispute is to work with us on improving pay, conditions and
professional development.

“What the council should be asking is not what it will cost to equalise pay for social workers in the city, but rather what it will cost our communities if they don’t?”

Council ‘working on potential solution’

The Labour-run authority said it had “remained in regular contact and exchanged information” with UNISON since the first strike.

While it maintained its position that it cannot deliver the 12.5% top-up to the adult practitioners’ pay, Brighton & Hove said it was working on a potential solution to the dispute.

The chair of its adult social care & public health sub-committee, Tristram Burden, added: “We remain clear that we cannot award a 12.5% market supplement to our social workers.

“But we acknowledge the impact the strike is having on staff morale and motivation in the council, and we are keen to get this resolved as quickly as we can.

“We are actively working on a proposal we will discuss with UNISON early in 2024.”


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