Strike action by social workers put on hold but no agreement over pay dispute

Planned three months of action by out-of-hours practitioners paused after one weekend, but council remains committed to reductions in payments for unsocial hours work

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

Social workers and social care staff have paused a planned three-month campaign of strike action but their pay dispute with their local authority remains unresolved.

Practitioners in Wiltshire Council’s emergency duty services and integrated front door team took one weekend of action but have since put their campaign on hold.

Their union, the GMB, said was because the council was not taking active steps to implement its plan to replace the 20% salary uplift they currently receive for working unsocial hours with a 20% supplement for each hour they worked.

The authority has said current arrangements are “not financially sustainable”.

Cuts to unsocial hours payments

Wiltshire has offered staff four years’ pay protection once the scheme is implemented, but the GMB has claimed that the practitioners would lose out on about £500 a month when this was removed.

The union has also accused the authority of threatening to dismiss staff and then re-employ them on the new terms – a charge Wiltshire denies.

“GMB members have shown they are completely opposed to the proposed pay cut, and prepared to take strike action,” said GMB branch secretary Andy Newman.

“While we are very happy to negotiate other mechanisms whereby the management can meet their business objectives, and to resolve the dispute, we condemn the unethical use of the threat of fire and rehire by the council to hold a gun to our heads during those negotiations.”

Wiltshire Council’s chief executive, Terence Herbert has said previously, that “there will be no immediate dismissal and offer of re-engagement”, though if a collective agreement were not reached with GMB and fellow unions Unite and UNISON, the authority would seek to agree the new terms with staff individually.

No agreement on pay changes

Following news of the pause in strike action, Herbert said: “This longstanding issue regarding changes that the council needs to make to both our unsocial hours and standby and callout policies is ongoing and no agreement has been reached although we have been working with our three recognised unions for more than two years with the aim to reach a resolution.

“The protracted nature of the issue has made this a difficult time for the staff impacted and they are very keen for this to be resolved.”


One Response to Strike action by social workers put on hold but no agreement over pay dispute

  1. Splashing April 10, 2024 at 11:27 pm #

    Trying to do the same in my council’s out of hours, with no unsociable hours pay at all !