Swindon social workers confirm two week strike
It’s time for Swindon Borough Council to get serious, and negotiate a solution to this problem, rather than continuing to stick their heads in the sand, says GMB union
GMB, the union for public services, has announced that social workers within Swindon Borough Council will be taking two weeks of strike action, commencing Thursday 31 August.
The dispute centres around protecting the Emergency Duty Service, the out of hours service providing 24-hour emergency care to vulnerable people, and preventing a pay cut [see Notes to Editors 1 for previous press releases on the dispute].
The council has announced that these staff will lose around £700 per month from Friday 1 September, following a recent pay and regrading review , due to the removal of a 20 per cent unsocial hours payment.
Talks with Swindon Borough Council took place on Thursday 27 July to seek to avoid industrial action, with council officers agreeing to respond with new proposals by Friday 11 August to GMB, but have failed to do so, leaving GMB with no choice other than to call strike action .
The union is further warning that such a huge pay cut will see workers forced to leave for similar roles in other authorities or with other employers, which will jeopardise the viability of the service .
Andy Newman, GMB Branch Secretary said:
“The last thing that social workers want to do is to take strike action, but they are being forced into this drastic step due to a planned pay cut.
“At the talks with Swindon Borough Council officers, GMB were surprised by the lack of urgency from the employers, who are not even offering pay protection, which is the usual mechanism of continuing to pay a higher salary for a transition period after a pay-cut.
“Already many of the staff are looking for other jobs, many are stressed and feeling unwell, and GMB has even heard from social workers saying that they are afraid that the financial worry may be impacting their work.
“Senior officers of the council breaking their word about coming back to GMB with new proposals has made our members even more angry.
“It’s time for Swindon Borough Council to get serious, and negotiate a solution to this problem, rather than continuing to stick their heads in the sand.”
Notes to Editors:
 Previous press releases on the dispute:
 Swindon Borough Council has recently completed a pay and grading review, costing £4.6 million, using the private sector Korn Ferry consultancy to implement the Hay scheme of job scoring, which originated in America in the 1930s and which is widely regarded as undervaluing those jobs more likely to be done by women.
 At talks on Thursday 27 July, SBC promised to come back to GMB with new proposals by Friday 11 August and in exchange GMB agreed to postpone calling strike action. On 11 August, SBC notified that they needed one more day, and would respond by Monday 14 August. They failed to communicate with GMB on 14 August, leaving the union no choice other than to call industrial action.
 The proposed pay cut for EDS social workers by removing the 20 per cent uplift would mean that SBC would be paying considerably less than other local authorities for similar roles, for example:
- South Gloucester EDS pays a 26 per cent uplift
- Wiltshire EDS (children's services) 23 per cent uplift, Wiltshire EDS (adult services) 20 per cent
- Wokingham EDS 29 per cent uplift (20 per cent responsibility allowance + 9 per cent market supplement)
- BCP (Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole) EDS 20 per cent uplift