Social work strike called off after council makes ‘encouraging’ offer

UNISON holding talks with Brighton & Hove council on proposal to settle dispute over pay inequalities for adult social workers

UNISON members from Brighton & Hove City Council
UNISON members from Brighton & Hove City Council

A social work strike that was due to take place this week has been called off after the local authority made what union leaders described as an “encouraging” offer.

Adult social workers represented by Brighton & Hove UNISON had been due to walk out this week in protest at the 12.5% pay top-up given to their children’s colleagues that they do not receive.

The practitioners took strike action in November and December over the issue.

However, while Brighton & Hove City Council has maintained that it cannot meet the union’s demand of an equivalent 12.5% market supplement for adult social workers, it has made an offer that UNISON believes it can negotiate over.

Offer made to adult social workers

According to the union, this involves:

  • Extending UNISON’s strike mandate by three months until 20 June, enabling social workers to take action if there is not sufficient progress in negotiations.
  • A £2,700 boost to pay for social workers on their assessed and supported year in employment (ASYE) by starting them on a higher spinal point within their pay grade.
  • Enabling experienced social workers at the top of their pay grade to progress to the next one on the completion of an accreditation process.
  • Re-evaluating senior social worker and operational management roles with the aim of getting them uplifted by a grade and to maintain grade progression between pay for social workers, senior social workers and managers.
  • Providing appropriate remuneration for social workers who complete their practice education professional standards (PEPS) training and for undertaking formal supervision of social work students on placement.

“This offer from our employer represents a good and encouraging starting point for continuing negotiations,” said UNISON steward Zac Birchley.

Council ‘listening and responding to social workers’

The council’s lead councillor for adult social care, Tristram Burden, welcomed the union’s decision to call off this week’s strike.

“We’re really pleased that UNISON has accepted our proposal for resolving the strike, based on further details we shared about the offer the council made in January,” he added.

“We believe the agreements reached provide a long-term and sustainable offer both to encourage recruitment and retention in adult social work in our city, and as a significant gesture that recognises the extraordinary service our social workers provide.

“We are listening and responding to what our social workers and UNISON have been telling us about the challenges they face.”

Burden added that the council had extended UNISON’s strike mandate because it was “confident that negotiations on this proposal will progress positively and at pace”.


2 Responses to Social work strike called off after council makes ‘encouraging’ offer

  1. Peggy March 9, 2024 at 4:29 pm #

    PEPS trained Social Workers are to be recognised as senior social workers in all

  2. Tori March 10, 2024 at 10:52 am #

    This article is a slight misrepresentation- the strikes were not in protest at the 12.5% given to children’s services. The strikes were because the social workers were paid significantly comparatively less than neighbouring local authorities and as well as deserving fair pay, there has been a negative impact on recruitment and retention.