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Social Workers Union seeks to join TUC – comments from SWU General Secretary and SWU Chair

The Social Workers Union (SWU) is making a formal application to affiliate to the Trade Union Congress (TUC). If the application is successful, SWU will become a TUC member representing the specialism of social work.

An application to affiliate to the TUC is a natural progression for SWU as well as a historic step for the SWU Executive — SWU will became the only specialist social work trade union to affiliate to the TUC. The TUC brings together 48 trade unions, representing 5.5 million workers. If successful, our TUC affiliation increases our influence and allows us to help shape the TUC’s strategies and campaigns.

The TUC aims to be an authoritative voice in political debate and regularly meets ministers at all levels of government including Secretaries of State, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If our application is successful, then SWU will have a seat on the TUC’s General Council. TUC-affiliated unions also sit on the Public Services Forum, a tripartite body of unions, government, and public service employers. Membership of the TUC will enable us to put forward a motion for debate at the TUC Congress (the annual conference) – motions can be about trade union issues but also professional issues such as working conditions of social workers, adequate funding for social work, or the future of social work education. Motions that are passed at the conference shape TUC policy for the following year.

Commenting on the decision, John McGowan, General Secretary of SWU, said:

“This is a significant, historic and positive decision by the SWU Executive. We already have positive affiliations with the General Federation of Trade Unions and collaborations with the British Association of Social Workers and other unions. TUC membership will bring substantial benefits to our members from both an employment relations and professional perspective.

It will enable us to contribute even more to the joint activities of national campaigns from within the TUC. It also offers our members access to a wide range of education, learning and training opportunities.”

SWU UK Chair Carys Phillips said:

“I wholeheartedly believe that SWU joining the TUC at this time – when society and politicians have recognised that inequality is neither inevitable nor natural – will be an asset. The Social Work profession works within all aspects of the margins of society and has a proud history of advocating and campaigning. It has often been castigated by government and, like so many areas of social care, it has been commodified and segmented. Collaboration across all public spaces in order to articulate the needs of the workforce – the majority of whom are women – is necessary and needed. Social Work is Social Care and Social Care is Social Work; therefore the experience, energy and skills SWU brings will add to the clarion call for a better future post COVID-19.”

A photo of SWU General Secretary SWU John McGowan and SWU UK Chair Carys Phillips
John McGowan and Carys Phillips