Social workers are set to strike for the first time in Brighton over a pay dispute.
Adult social workers have called for pay parity with other social workers who work with children and families, and will be striking on November 7.
Trade union Unison is calling on the government to fund proper pay rises and for the council to address the pay inequalities.
Brighton & Hove UNISON, who represent adult social workers in the city, says the strike is a last resort after all other attempts to resolve this dispute had failed. There are significant issues with recruitment and retention of staff in adult social care and the market supplement is an essential tool to improve the service for residents of Brighton and Hove. In one team a social work role had to be advertised three times, and on one occasion of the 100 applicants, not one was a qualified social worker.
The strike has been called on the day of the next meeting of the Health and Wellbeing Board and will also coincide with industrial action by mental health social workers who are members of UNISON in Barnet – a powerful message of solidarity and a warning for all local authorities if they do not pay social workers fairly, says the union.
UNISON Brighton & Hove Joint Branch Secretary, Corinna Edwards-Colledge said:
“Austerity policies such as cuts in funding to local government over the last 13 years are a direct act of harm by central government against millions of people and communities across the country. Central government needs to act now to restore funding to local authorities like Brighton and Hove, and fund proper pay rises for essential professionals like Social Workers and Care Workers, who have experienced some of the lowest pay growth of any professions, yet demonstrate unwavering dedication to the most vulnerable people in our society.
“Brighton & Hove City Council needs to address the significant issue of equality between the pay of workers in adults social care with their friends and colleagues in families, children and learning. Otherwise, talent and experience will continue to drain away, overtime and agency spend will continue to rise, and the risk to services will increase.
Cllr Tristram Burden chair of the council’s Adult Social Care & Public Health Sub-Committee, said:
“Our social workers carry out challenging work day in, day out , and we value each and every one of them.
“We know the cost-of-living crisis is biting, and we help wherever we can.
“But as we have made clear in our negotiations, this unfortunately cannot include awarding social workers in our adult social care service a 12.5% market supplement.
“I will always support the right the strike, but I’m also saddened employees feel the need to take this action.
“We are keeping negotiations open with our Unison colleagues to try to find a solution to the current dispute.”