Mental health social workers striking over unfair pay, says UNISON

Mental health social workers striking over unfair pay, says UNISON

Mental health social workers employed by Barnet Council, have taken over nine days of strike action in a row over staffing levels and a market supplement payment.

The service, staff say, is facing chronic staffing issues, with the waiting list to be seen now up to 15 months.

UNISON is asking for a recruitment and retention payment, similar to what the council currently does for its children’s social workers, to help retain experienced staff.

At the moment, children’s social workers in Barnet Council are currently paid between 15% and 25% more than adult’s social workers. A lead practitioner with extensive social work experience and line responsibility in an adult mental health team is paid only £1,000 more than a newly qualified social worker in a children and family team. There is no difference in the qualifications required to be a children’s social worker or an adult’s social worker.

Mental health social workers have expressed their frustration with heavy workloads, inadequate staffing levels, and insufficient resources, which they say have significantly impacted their ability to provide quality care to vulnerable individuals in the community.

One social worker said: “We are challenging the lack of a safe service and the unreasonable and increasing waiting lists which put the residents of Barnet at risk of harm. We are asking for a recruitment and retention payment to maintain a stable and permanent workforce of experienced staff.

“We will continue to advocate for the residents of Barnet and unless Barnet Council implement a reasonable recruitment and retention policy to keep experienced staff in Barnet, we will continue to return to the picket line come rain, shine, or more rain, to raise awareness and fight for residents.”

Picket line information:

Outside Barnet Council main office: 2 Bristol Ave, London NW9 4EW, 8am – 12pm

7/8/9/14/15/16 November 2023
4/5/6/7/8/ December 2023
15/16/17/18/19 January 2024
5/6/7/8/9 February 2024
4/5/6/7/8 March 2024

Media contact:
Emma Davey E: M: 07432 733187