Become a SWU Union Contact

Carol Reid SH.SWU.21.9.20181.194

If you are a member of the Social Workers Union (SWU) then you can apply to undertake the role of SWU Union Contact – we welcome members who are interested in getting involved!  Previous union experience is useful but not essential. More important is a genuine enthusiasm and interest in trade unionism, collective activism, and promoting SWU to colleagues.  Our National Organiser Carol Reid has provided information about the role below.

Message from SWU National Organiser Carol Reid:

As you may know, SWU is a relatively new Trade Union (established 2011), and we are also one of the fastest growing specialist trade unions according to the statistics compiled by the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU).  I am a qualified and registered social worker, as are my colleagues at SWU, and we believe that it is this specialist knowledge and background that is fundamental to our success.  Nevertheless, we are aware that there is a need for us to have a visible presence in workplaces, universities and beyond, and I am keen to develop our team of SWU Union Contacts, which is steadily growing.

If you are familiar with trade unions in the workplace you will know that, conventionally, the role of “rep” or “shop steward” often involves lengthy and complex negotiations with employers and managers.  At SWU however we do not place those expectations upon our Union Contacts who already have demanding social work roles and/or study commitments.  We have full-time professional officers at BASW/SWU who provide Advice and Representation in relation to employment issues and negotiations.  This enables our Union Contacts to focus on the important promotion and growth of SWU in workplaces, universities, and placements.  However, should you wish to take on additional lower-level representation responsibilities at a later date, we do provide additional Phase 2 training in conjunction with BASW and GFTU.

As a SWU Union Contact you will:

  • Be the first point of contact for anyone in your workplace/university in relation to joining and getting involved in SWU. You will receive all relevant training, paperwork, and materials to successfully do this.
  • Be an essential contact for SWU when we and members need to exchange information and ideas. You will be kept up to date with campaign details and given materials to distribute to colleagues.
  • Encourage membership in the workplace/university by providing leaflets/flyers/promotional merchandise and materials – these can be delivered to your home address or place of work.
  • Promote and be involved in union activism, campaigns, events, marches, and rallies (dependent upon your availability and commitments).
  • Receive induction training, regular contact and updates, newsletters, and access to the Facebook group with a focus upon strengthening the union and ensuring you are happy and confident in your role.
  • Have access to excellent free training opportunities from the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU), to which SWU is affiliated.
  • Opportunities to attend and help develop regular branch meetings.
  • Undertake workplace representational tasks* if this is something that interests you.  (*Following an additional period of Phase 2 training provided by SWU, BASW, and GFTU).

Now is a great time to get involved in SWU and we typically provide several Union Contact Induction Days throughout the year.

Our Induction Day programme is also provided online and if you would like to complete it this way, please contact for further details.

Induction Day meetings include presentations from myself and John McGowan, General Secretary of SWU, as well as activities and information relating to trade union recruitment, campaigning, and activism.  We are also delighted to have the support of Dr Neil Thompson, a highly respected figure in UK social work and a SWU Ambassador, who also delivers a learning session.  

As a further means of keeping in touch we have a Union Contacts Facebook Group which you are welcome to join once we’ve received confirmation of your interest in the role.

NB – If you are currently the subject of work-related disciplinary action, please make SWU aware when you request information about becoming a Union Contact.