Social workers and occupational therapists working for South Gloucestershire Council will strike next month after voting for action in a dispute over pay enhancements.
The staff will walk out for three days of action from Tuesday 4 – Thursday 6 April. In the strike ballot 94% voted yes to taking action.
UNISON has been in formal dispute with the council since July 2022 over its decision to pay a market forces supplement to staff in Childrens’ Services, but not to those doing the same jobs in Adult Services or those in the the 0-25 team.
The latest Local Government Association survey showed that 71% of authorities are experiencing recruitment challenges in adult social work, 57% have retention difficulties and 25% offer market supplements.
Rachael Darbishire, social worker and UNISON steward said:
“I have worked for South Gloucestershire Council since qualifying as a social worker in 2020. I joined amidst the global pandemic and saw colleagues work so hard to continue providing support and care in incredibly challenging conditions.
“The council then announced that children’s social workers were to receive a £3,000 annual retention payment. Initially this was seen as a good thing, until those in adult social care were not given the same. This has left adult social workers at the council feeling less valued.
“As adult social workers the challenges we face are different, but we work just as hard. We are simply asking the council to be paid fairly and equitably with our colleagues.
“I’m passionate about my job but the current pay inequality makes me feel that I’m not valued for doing it.”
UNISON South West regional organiser Michael Sweetman said:
“Strike action is always a last resort and we’re hoping that this clear vote for action will bring the council back to the negotiating table. Nevertheless, our members have voted to take action, and dates have been set. We urge the council to come to the table and resolve this issue before our members take to the picket lines.”