Social Workers Union
|Full name||Social Workers Union|
|Founded||21 June 2011|
|Head union||John McGowan: General Secretary|
|Affiliation||British Association of Social Workers|
|Office location||Wellesley House, 37 Waterloo Street, Birmingham, B2 5PP, United Kingdom|
The Social Workers Union (SWU) is a registered Labour Union (UK) for Social work professionals and an organisational member of The British Association of Social Workers (BASW). The SWU reports 13,000 paid members in 2020  This union devoted to social workers was set up on 21st June 2011,  triggered by research among BASW members that indicated it was difficult to work under tremendous pressure to deliver social services and to often be subjected to criticism in the media. 
SWU uses officers who are also qualified social workers to advocate and negotiate on behalf of social workers, both individually and collectively within the trade union movement and with employers. The SWU offers representation from a qualified Social Worker - someone who understands the competing demands placed on the employee and the Code of Conducts governed by the four regulators of social work in the United Kingdom (Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland).
Difference between SWU and BASW
Membership of the SWU is a benefit for members of BASW. Despite this link, the SWU is an independent Trade Union. The SWU, unlike a professional association, can enforce the legal entitlement of representation in employers’ hearings by SWU’s Trade Union Officials. The SWU offers practical representation and works with BASW to offer advice and representation before regulatory bodies. This combined approach, it is claimed, “provides the best protection and best advice for social workers from social workers.”  SWU is a member of the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU), a group of 28 specialist unions with over 260,000 individual members. SWU members have access to the training provided by the GFTU [Source]. SWU campaigns with the GFTU and is represented on the GFTU’s National Executive by the General Secretary (GS), currently John McGowan.
Formation and Leaders
The Social Workers Union was established on 21st June 2011. ‘Pursuant to the resolution by BASW Council on 21 June 2011, it was resolved by BASW to establish a trade union which is to be called “The Social Workers Union” and to adopt rules for such trade union’ (BASW AGM, 2011). There have been three General Secretary’s since this time:
- Hilton Dawson: General Secretary – not elected but combined role of BASW Chief Executive Officer and SWU GS) 2011-2012
- Bridget Robb: General Secretary – not elected but combined role of BASW Chief Executive Officer and SWU GS) 2013 - 2016
- John McGowan: General Secretary – elected by the members until Sept 2021 as the first General Secretary independent of BASW employment 2016 – Present
Annual Conference and AGMs
- 2012 - 1st ever Annual General Meeting: Novotel Hotel, Broad Street, Birmingham 3.30pm Thursday 14th June 2012. Meeting took place directly after the BASW Conference.
- 2013 - 2nd Annual General Meeting of the Social Workers Union held at the Riverside Centre, Derby on Thursday 27 June 2013 commencing. Meeting took place directly after the BASW Conference.
- 2014 - 3rd Annual General Meeting of the Social Workers Union held on Tuesday 10th June 2014 at LSO St Luke’s, 161 Old Street, London. Meeting took place directly after the BASW Conference.
- 2015 - 4th Annual General Meeting of the Social Workers Union held on Wednesday 29th April 2015 at LSO St Luke’s, 161 Old Street, London. Meeting took place directly after the BASW Conference.
- 2016 - 5th Annual General Meeting of the Social Workers Union held at the Quakers Friends House, 173-177 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ on Friday 23rd September 2016. Meeting took place directly after the BASW Conference.
- 2017 – SWU’s first Conference and AGM separate from BASW 6th Annual General Meeting of the Social Workers Union held at the Queen Elizabeth ll Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3EE on Friday 22nd September 2017.
- 2018 – SWU Conference and AGM 7th Annual General Meeting of the Social Workers Union held at The Studio 7 Cannon Street, Birmingham, B2 5EP on Friday 21st September 2018.
- 2019 – SWU Conference and AGM 8th Annual General Meeting of the Social Workers Union held at The Mechanics Centre, 103 Princess Street, Manchester, M1 6DD on Friday 27th September 2019
Working Conditions Campaign
BASW and SWU, in partnership with Bath Spa University are leading a campaign for improved working conditions for social workers. The latest research findings were launched in 2018. The campaign is ongoing and seeks to lobby Parliamentarians in Westminster, Holyrood and Cardiff Bay Parliaments. At a Westminster Parliamentary reception on 27th November 2018 over 20 MPs made a commitment at BASW/SWU’s parliament event to pledge their support for social workers. The aims of the campaign are to build awareness of the research  which shows that social workers are strongly engaged in their work and want the very best outcomes for people that use services, but they are hampered by poor working conditions and a lack of resources.
Austerity Action Group
The Austerity Action Group consists of SWU representatives, BASW representatives, academics and social service users from among the general public. It is committed to opposing the programme of austerity implemented by Conservative governments in Britain. The Group promotes Social Justice and campaigns for those disadvantaged members of society, social workers, other allied professions and agencies adversely affected by the government's economic policies
Sorry we Missed You
SWU advised on some aspects of the Ken Loach movie ‘Sorry we Missed You (2019)’ written by Paul Laverty and were given credits in the film. The SWU were part of the ongoing campaign and awareness-raising issues as part of the movie’s release.
In the media
- "BASW unionised membership estimates". British Association of Social Workers. 25 September 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
- "Union Due" (PDF). Professional Social Work. June 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
- "Tick Box Social Work Criticised". No. 1 February 2011. Daily Express. Daily Express. 1 February 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
- "Opt in to SWU". British Association of Social Workers. BASW. 6 April 2018. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
- Ravellier, Jermaine; Boichat, Charlotte. "UK Social Workers: Working Conditions and Wellbeing" (PDF). BASW. BASW. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
- Platts, Nancy (13 December 2018). "MPs Sign Pledge To Support Social Workers". The Rooftop. Campaign Collective. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
- McGowan, John. "General Secretary's Update" (PDF). swu-updates.org.uk/. SWU. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
- Social Workers Union facebook page
- Social Workers Union twitter page
- Social Workers Union linkedin page
- Social Workers Union youtube channel
- About SWU - Social Workers Union
- Tag: social workers | UNISON National
- Social workers union : socialwork - Reddit
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