UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Back to Social Work college - but which one?

Just as the first College of Social Work in England gets off the ground BASW (British Association of Social Workers) decide to withdraw and declare their own college. ....What’s going on?

Membership cards have hardly been sent out to the first prospective new social workers, students and associate members of the Government funded college for social work when BASW announced that it had registered itself as a company back in April last year with the name ‘BASW – The College of Social Work’ and is already challenging the ‘official’ college to cease using their registered name.

I’m not going to comment on the behaviour of BASW but I do think it’s unfortunate that social workers, already beleaguered as a profession are now being pulled two ways over the issue.

UNISON went into the preliminary talks on establishing a college with caution and our eyes wide open. We didn’t feel that a college would be the solution to the many problems being experienced by social workers but we did see an opportunity to work with an organisation that had some clout with Government, was run by social workers and might respond to our social worker members agenda of working with dangerously high vacancy levels, dealing with far too many cases, having poor levels of supervision, working too many hours and having to face an increasingly hostile press

UNISON and BASW as representatives of front-line social workers were both involved in helping to recruit the interim Chairs of the college and UNISON was then approached by the new board to discuss a joint membership agreement. BASW also took part in interim chair appointment and the College development discussions with UNISON about a contract to provide TU services. So this change of stance is very confusing

The college plans to charge £270 - currently prospective membership during its set up year is free. And the £270 will include UNISON membership as one of the benefits for any social workers who are not in UNISON already.

With over 40,000 social worker members this in UNISON this could ensure the continuation of the college when Government funding ceases.

As I said UNISON didn’t go into this believing a college was the solution to social workers many problems. We will continue to be involved in the Government funded college and use our influence to pursue the issues that matter for our social worker members

I still hope that BASW will reconsider and join us

Chris Tansley
UNISON National Social Care Forum