GMB condemns plans by Swindon Borough Council to unlawfully employ agency strike breakers

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The council has confirmed to GMB in a meeting they plan to use agency workers during the strike and the union’s legal advice says this is illegal.

GMB the union for social workers at Swindon Borough Council has today written to the recruitment agency Team Matrix, who provides agency social workers to the council, warning that it is a criminal offence to supply agency workers to cover for strikers.

The union has called a 14-day strike from Thursday 31 August which will completely shut the Emergency Duty Service, which provides out of hours specialist support for vulnerable children and adults.

The strike is opposing the removal of a 20 per cent unsocial hours payment, meaning each social worker will lose around £700 per month from 1 September.

Andy Newman, GMB Branch Secretary said:

"We were really shocked to learn that Swindon Borough Council are intending to break the law by using agency workers to undermine lawful industrial action by their own staff.

"Since 1976 it has been unlawful to use agency workers as strike breakers. In 2022 Kwasi Kwarteng changed the law to briefly allow it, but in July 2023 the High Court ruled he had acted unlawfully, and restored the ban.

"It is a criminal offence to supply agency workers to break a strike and I have spoken on the phone with the agency and also sent them an email explaining the law.

"Swindon council have confirmed to GMB their intention to redeploy agency workers already working in children's services.

“GMB's legal advice is that this is still illegal, if they proceed the agency they will have committed a crime and we will ensure the agency and the council are prosecuted.”


Media enquiries: GMB Press Office on 07958 156846 or at 

Notes to Editors:

[1] Previous press releases on the dispute: 

6 July: 

31 July: 

15 August: