FAQS - All About SWU

Am I automatically a member of the Social Workers Union?

No. Membership is fully optional. It is an opt-in process. If you are a member.

Can I be a member of BASW and not a member of SWU?

Yes, and indeed you won’t be a member of SWU unless you actually opt-in to the union.

I am already a member of a trade union – can I be a member of SWU and a member of another union?

Yes. There is no exclusivity clause in joining the Social Workers Union so members can, if they wish, retain their current membership of another union or join a different union in the future.

Can I join The Social Workers Union now?

Yes, Click Here to find out more.

Can the Social Workers Union represent me and my colleagues in local authority pay and conditions bargaining?

SWU is fully able to represent social workers with whatever individual issues or concerns they have – from grievance hearings to informal discussions with managers. Securing the right to negotiate on behalf of the wider social work workforce, taking part in pay and conditions talks, is a separate matter.

SWU wrote to every employer in the UK when it launched in 2011, to seek negotiating rights, and continues to work closely with the TUC and individual trade unions on this issue. BASW is clear that the issue of pay and conditions is an area that it will voice its opinions on, regardless of its formal status with individual employers.

Why did BASW set up a trade union arm?

Firstly, and most importantly, because it is what our members want – they voted for it at our May 2011 AGM. Crucially, with their union status SWU officers cannot now be prevented from representing members in employment issues.

The establishment of the Social Workers Union (SWU) means we offer advice and representation as well as industrial relations services. The Social Workers Union provides a service tailored specifically towards the needs of social workers, setting it apart from any other trade union.

Will the Social Workers Union become a member of the TUC?

SWU has continued to grow at a remarkable rate over the last four years and as at July 2015 had over 11,000 members; it is therefore one of the fastest growing trade unions despite the fact that trade union membership generally is in decline. SWU has applied for full membership of the TUC and continues to hold ongoing discussions with them highlighting the success of the union and what it can bring to the wider trade union movement.

SWU was recently affiliated to the GFTU and so members are now able to take advantage of the additional benefits provided by such membership.

I only joined BASW to be a member of a professional association rather than a trade union – does SWU undermine the culture of the organisation?

SWU is a separate arm of BASW, run at arms-length, aimed at strengthening the service we offer to members, not detracting from it. The ability of BASW members being able to join SWU is an additional benefit of membership and there are no issues whatsoever if you wish not to opt-in to membership of SWU.

What does being a member of SWU entail?

For the most part membership is all about the Social Workers Union supporting you in your work. However, understanding the rules of membership, and adhering to them, is important, so all new joiners should make sure they read them here.

What is the situation with BASW’s Advice & Representation Service?

The A&R Service continues to offer employment and professional advice services and representation services at regulatory councils across the UK to members of BASW (whether you opt-in to membership of the union or not). However, the additional membership of SWU also offers representation at any internal employment related hearings.