The Social Workers Union (SWU) works together with the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) through a cooperation agreement to provide a highly beneficial and cost-effective service to our joint members. This relationship began when SWU was established as a trade union by BASW in 2011 and continues to the present day.
Together SWU and BASW are committed to providing an optional joint membership because we consider it to be the best offer we can make for social workers. We believe it enables us to be strong for professional development and voice, strong for ethics and human rights, strong for representation of social workers when needed, and strong in influencing government and employer policies in the long term. We are building a social work-led movement in cooperation. Social Workers can join SWU without BASW membership however SWU only membership is set at the same price as the combined BASW/SWU membership.
The ethos of SWU is to promote a unified profession through a Professional Body (BASW) with guaranteed employment representation from a Trade Union.
A brief timeline of SWU and BASW
On the 21st June 2011 the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) resolved to establish a trade union which was to be called the Social Workers Union (SWU). At that time BASW was becoming increasingly aware that they were being prevented from providing representation to members at employment hearings because the only organisation employers were legally obliged to recognise were certified trade unions. SWU was therefore created to ensure continuing employment representation for members.
Gerry Madden, Honorary Treasurer of SWU, said, “the decision to create the Social Workers Union was an instinctive reaction to protect our members.”
On the 15th July 2011 SWU was added to the list of Trade Unions as part of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 and on the 18th October 2011 SWU gained its Certification of Independence from the UK Certification Officer for Trade Unions.
On the 13th March 2018 a formal co-operation agreement between the two organisations was signed by John McGowan, SWU General Secretary and Ruth Allen, BASW Chief Executive, at the BASW Additional General Meeting in London. This put SWU and BASW on an even firmer footing, going forward together in cooperation and creating a strong future for both organisations.
John McGowan, SWU General Secretary said, “I am pleased that the co-operation agreement has been signed by both organisations, it reinforces our commitment to drive forward the professional agenda and also provide trade union support to BASW members who sign up to SWU.”
BASW CEO Ruth Allen added, “BASW and SWU are distinct but very closely aligned organisations that complement each other. We are delighted to be able to provide such a strong, bespoke service to our members.”
On the 10th June 2021 an updated version of the formal co-operation agreement was signed by John McGowan, SWU General Secretary and Ruth Allen, BASW CEO which reaffirmed the commitment of SWU and BASW to advance together in their shared goals.