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Social Workers Union (SWU) Member Survey 2021

It was brilliant to hear from so many social workers about how passionate you are about your union

SWU conducted a Member Survey in January 2021 and 868 of our members responded within the 14-day survey window – thank you to those who participated for your time!

It was brilliant to hear from so many social workers about how passionate you are about your union, that you feel very strongly about the need for a union, and you value the services offered by SWU. Some of the survey results really stood out to us and we’d like to share them with you.

92% said that advice and representation is absolutely vital for social workers. One member elaborated on their answer by saying, "The majority of social workers do not challenge service cuts or care packages being declined as they have seen others being ousted and being labelled a renegade. Representation by the SWU is vital in such circumstances... I would encourage my colleagues to join the SWU to at least have a telephone service to discuss this with."

SWU offers members guaranteed protection at employer hearings, representation from SWU Trade Union officials, and access to the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) offer of advice and representation at regulatory body hearings.

SWU is the only UK trade union for, and run by, qualified and registered social workers. As a smaller specialist union, we get results for members through one-to-one consultation and support for their individual circumstances.

Two-thirds (64%) said that the opportunity to join SWU was a factor in their decision to join BASW. Together, BASW and SWU provide the best protection for social workers from social workers. Survey respondents believe that SWU membership is an affordable addition to their BASW membership (£2.08 per month or 83p per month for students) and offers value for money. It is important to remember that BASW is not a trade union and that its members must opt into SWU to gain the benefits of belonging to a trade union.

Other opinions from SWU members include:

  • 92% feel acting as a collective voice is important
  • 86% say being represented at work is important
  • 79% believe unions are vital in protecting our rights at work
  • 77% want to see unions talking to politicians on our behalf
  • 70% see maintaining standards is important
  • 64% said that being part of a trade union (SWU) was an important factor in their decision to join BASW

There was significant interest from members in joining our growing team of SWU Union Contacts. If you are thinking about becoming a SWU Union Contact in your workplace (or university if you’re a student social worker) you will be interested to know that we are currently offering an online version of our popular Union Contact Induction. We hope to resume our full-day group induction events in Manchester as soon as possible but, in the meantime and with the assistance of the well-known social work author and academic Dr Neil Thompson, our new online induction process can be completed in your own time. Importantly, you will not be left to ‘get on with it’ – you will be provided with regular support, updates, advice and information, and you can contact SWU's National Organiser & Union Contact Scheme Manager Carol Reid at any time with questions about your Union Contact role.

There were many positive comments on the survey about the SWU being a specialist trade union, a union run by social workers, and the quality of the Advice and Representation offered by the union. We know we have a lot still to do in our next decade and we’re heartened by this outpouring of member support!

Many of you expressed enthusiasm about hearing more from SWU and that’s great because we have a lot to say – you can hear it all by following @SWU_UK on Twitter, joining the SWU Facebook Community, and reading our monthly newsletter.