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SWU delivers two motions at General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) Biennial General Council Meeting

The SWU Motions passed unanimously and will be supported over the next two years by the GFTU Executive Committee

The Social Workers Union (SWU) is pleased to announce that the two motions we presented today at the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) Biennial General Council Meeting were unanimously passed.

SWU General Secretary John McGowan said:

'I am grateful for the ongoing assistance of the GFTU and the unanimous decision to support our principal motion. The affiliates of the GFTU will continue to help us spread the word not only about the important work we do as social workers but also the challenges we face as a profession.'

The first SWU motion calls upon the GFTU Executive Committee to assist SWU’s campaign against any reduction in social work funding; assist with campaigning to support social workers in their efforts to end child poverty and fuel poverty, and support the most vulnerable through the benefits and welfare system; and acknowledge that there must be urgent and major investment within and beyond local authorities if social work is to play its fullest and necessary leading part in the recovery of communities across the country.  

All nations of the UK have seen unjustified cuts and difficulties in the retention of Social Work jobs as a direct impact of the government’s continued programme of austerity that choses to diminish/dismantle the welfare state. The pressure put on society by the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed pre-existing inequalities that social workers are all too aware of. SWU’s research during the initial lockdown highlighted the impact on frontline services with almost a third (29%) of social workers saying they were unable to reach the most vulnerable.

Thank you to the GFTU and all the unions for their unanimous support of social workers and recognising the challenges of the work that we do.

The second SWU motion calls upon the Children’s Commissioner in England to support a ban on ‘smacking’ children in England and to acknowledge that corporal punishment leads to a lower quality of the parent and child relationship, higher levels of aggression and anti-social behaviour, and an increased risk of being a victim of physical abuse; and for the UK Government to express its intentions to draft proposals for the removal of the deference to ‘reasonable punishment’ in criminal law regarding the use of corporal punishment of children in England.

We are heartened that the GFTU and its unions have agreed to take a stance with SWU and the Association of Educational Psychologists against the use of corporal punishment on children in England. Similar anti-violence legislation has already been introduced in Scotland with the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) Act 2019 and in January 2020 the Welsh Assembly passed a law banning people in Wales from smacking their children which will come into effect in March 2022. We believe that all people should be protected from violence in any setting – including their own home – and that England’s law needs to catch up with the majority of OECD countries that have outlawed the physical punishment of children.

About the GFTU

Often referred to as “a sort of TUC for smaller, specialist unions”, the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) is a friendly democratic organisation responsive to the needs of affiliated Trade Unions. Yet while the GFTU did indeed become the champion of smaller and more specialist trade unions in the middle of the 20th century, these days unions of any size – whether TUC-affiliated or not – are eligible to apply for GFTU membership. The TUC voted it into existence in 1899.

SWU joined the GFTU in 2015 and continues to be active with ongoing campaigning and active on the National Executive Committee. SWU is represented on the GFTU National Executive Committee by our General Secretary John McGowan.

GFTU General Secretary Doug Nicholls said:

‘The biggest division in the country is between those in trade unions and the twenty-six million who are not. If the social and economic balance is to be tipped back in favour of workers again, trade union membership and activity levels must increase. Everything about the GFTU is designed to support the strengthening, rebirth, and growth of trade unions. We have a relevant and unique role within the Labour Movement and delighted to see full union support for the motions delivered by the Social Workers Union.