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SWU Blog: Motions for the Social Workers Union 2021 Annual General Meeting

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Below are the four SWU Motions for this year’s AGM, followed by a message from SWU General Secretary John McGowan to all SWU members.

 

Motion 1: Social Justice

This AGM commits SWU to pursuing the concept of social justice in all its activities.

SWU is a Trade Union associated with BASW through the SWU/BASW Co-operation Agreement 2021. A critical element of this relationship is our shared social work value base as expressed in the recently re-launched BASW Code of Ethics and Values. As a certified and independent Trade Union, SWU welcomes particularly the clear statement of commitment to social justice. Moreover in all its activities and endeavours, SWU commits itself and our members to actively pursuing this principle of social justice through challenging oppression, respecting diversity, advocating for access to and equal distribution of resources, challenging unjust policies and practices and ultimately exercising our duty both collectively and individually to challenge social conditions that contribute to oppression, social exclusion, stigma or subjugation and to work towards a more inclusive society.

 

Motion 2: Working Conditions

With increased demand created by COVID-19, this AGM asks the SWU Executive to fight for an increase in Social Work staffing and funding, improvements in working conditions for social workers as indicated by the research undertaken by Professor Jermaine Ravalier of Bath Spa University together with the provision of regular high-quality supervision which his later research showed was often sadly lacking.

 

Motion 3: Recognition of A&R’s Excellent Work

This AGM applauds the work of the SWU Trade Union Advice and Representation (A&R) Service. Our skilled A&R and Trade Union Officers continue to provide quality representation to SWU members and have adapted skilfully during the pandemic, adapting professionally to different ways of working. It is often quoted by some that we do not have collective bargaining; however, the basic fact is that we have the right to represent SWU members individually or together on larger issues. This specialist intervention has been effective and life changing for SWU members. Covering a variety of issues and successful changes in the workplace for our members. 

 

Motion 4: Celebrate the History of Social Care

SWU’s commitment to continued growth, collaboration and campaigning work are crucial. SWU was formed on the 21st June 2011 as the only dedicated and specialist Union for Social Workers. 2021 has been a year of proud celebration of 10 years since it was formed. This Motion asks this AGM to acknowledge and celebrate the very proud history of Social Care that began 73 years ago when the National Assistance Act received Royal Assent on 13 May 1948, just weeks before the launch of the National Health Service.

Social Workers articulate the inequalities exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, made worse by 10 years of Austerity. The indispensable support of our Advice and Representation Service is an essential aspect of the Union and the complex work Social Workers undertake. As the world of Social Work anticipates the imminent changes across children and adult Social Care, SWU’s commitment to continued growth, collaboration and campaigning work are crucial so we can celebrate our success and grow into the future. 

 

I am pleased to report that this has been another great year for the Social Workers Union. Membership continues to rise and is currently at 14,700, showing that we are moving in the right direction.

When I was first elected as the General Secretary in September 2016 membership was just over 9000 and I would love to see us break through the 15,000-membership barrier by the end of the year. 

Interest in the union has been phenomenal since we started and now we are in our 10th year as a union, which is an important milestone for us to celebrate. We are glad that so many of you joined in the online festivities in June, and if you would like to revisit the videos and blogs you can find them on the SWU 10th Anniversary Celebration webpage.

It is a strange working world that we are in presently but Trade Unions, Professional Associations and employers all working together can make a significant difference to ensure that the effects of the pandemic have been shared appropriately and we are all supporting social workers. 

However, to say that social work is a challenging profession is of course something of an understatement and this is an important message to share and to continue to highlight. We all know the impact on social workers of cutbacks to services and staffing. 

Recently, SWU has implemented our Six Point Action Plan which has further raised the profile of the union and created a huge media reach highlighting the pressures that social work is under. We have also announced this month the creation of further campaign opportunities to engage with politicians and local authorities.

SWU looks forward to seeing you at our online AGM on Friday 24th September from 2pm – 3.30pm.

- SWU General Secretary, John McGowan