SWU and BASW NI discuss future joint campaigns

Community of Practice: Meet with SWU, April 27th 2023 - BASW Northern Ireland and the Social Workers Union (SWU)

The special BASW NI Community of Practice with SWU was an excellent discussion on future campaigning and models for working together.

SWU General Secretary John McGowan and SWU Executive Committee Northern Ireland Representative Gerry Madden joined BASW NI Chair Orlaith McGibbon for a special online Community of Practice hosted in Belfast in April 2023.

SWU and BASW NI answered questions from online attendees and discussed potential options for joint campaigning and SWU’s work in relation to campaigning on working conditions.

The conversation focused on specific social work-related issues. For example, the student-led bursary campaigns supported by the SWU Campaign Fund, which is an issue that the bigger unions aren’t focused on.

It was also raised that members find it difficult that SWU cannot ballot for industrial action as they want to show solidarity with their social work colleagues on strike action. John responded by outlining SWU’s focus on improving working conditions and providing members with Trade Union Advice & Representation.

Although SWU does not have the right to strike, the union has the legal right to represent members individually or together on larger issues in the workplace and this has been effective and life changing for our members. SWU is a specialist union run by social workers for social workers and has the understanding and skills to support our members whenever they encounter issues in their social work journey.

The discussion acknowledged that having more SWU contacts in Northern Ireland would be beneficial to growing a knowledge base and local expertise on members’ issues.

Orlaith said, “It was wonderful to be able to host John and NI SWU representative, Gerry Madden, at BASW NI. The challenges facing social workers are acute and now, more than ever, social workers need expert representation by a professional association and trade union that really understand the needs of our profession. There is much work for BASW NI and SWU to take forward together – delivering for our members is my top priority and I know John is of the same view.”

John replied, “It was great to be able to share with BASW NI members and staff what we do at SWU, particularly as membership is much more than just representation, and the additional small cost is terrific value. Sharing information about our campaigns, work with students, and general activism has created an opportunity for further input from BASW NI and SWU joint membership and we look forward to announcing this very soon.”

Members who were unable to attend are welcome to get in touch with SWU to discuss campaign ideas by emailing campaigns@swu-union.org.uk. More information is available at: https://swu-union.org.uk/swu-campaign-fund