GMB: Swindon Borough Council leaders 'asleep on the job' over social work strike

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First group of social workers begin strike which will last through festive period unless talks take place 

GMB, the union for social workers, calls for immediate talks with Swindon Borough Council to resolve pay disputes, as two separate groups of social workers strike over Christmas. 

The union has been proposing talks with the employer to resolve pay disputes since November, however council chiefs are not making themselves available for negotiations until January. 

Eleven social worker Assistant Team Managers started a two week strike on Tuesday and will be joined by the Emergency Duty Service which provides out of hours cover from Christmas Eve. 

A third group is also being balloted to join the strike, the team of Independent Reviewing Officers. 

The strikes are over a pay and grading review, described by the union as “botched”, which has led to managers in some cases earning less than those whom they supervise. 

Andy Newman, GMB Branch Secretary said: 

“GMB is astonished that Swindon Borough Council have failed to talk to the union in advance of the strikes commencing as we for obvious reasons cannot resolve the dispute unless council officers agree to meet. 

“GMB proposed ACAS talks to the council weeks ago and GMB have ourselves spoken to ACAS, but the council did not agree to talks until too late. 

“The council seems to be asleep on the job, employing a strategy of sticking its head in the sand and hoping the issues will go away. 

“Emma Bushell is the cabinet member with responsibility for staffing but she has seemingly been more interested in complaining about GMB press releases than in working with the council’s officers to resolve the issues behind this increasingly bitter industrial dispute.”