Solidarity from Liz Wheatley Camden UNISON
Dear Striking Social Workers in Barnet UNISON,
We want to send further solidarity greetings from Camden UNISON whilst you are taking more strike action over the way you are being treated. It’s outrageous that your team isn’t deemed worthy of the same retention payments as other teams and services in Barnet – we know that there’s a real problem recruiting and retaining social workers across London, and a Council that doesn’t treat you properly will lose you.
For far too long, public services have been seen by Tory governments as a waste of money – they have grudgingly given as little as possible each year. However, we know that in reality, the services we provide are a lifeline for millions, and are what makes society function – where would we be without school support staff, refuse workers, housing workers, library workers and of course social workers?
We also know that you get the service you pay for – the kind of support you provide really needs continuity, it needs providers who aren’t over-worked and stressed, who have the time to find the best for their clients, and who simply have the time for their clients. So for your bosses to not even discuss how they can solve the retention crisis in your team is a real disgrace.
Not least because the money is there. A recent report from Oxfam this month has highlighted that the five richest people in the world have more than doubled their wealth since 2020. Their wealth has increased by more than £11 an hour. At the same time, the world’s poorest 5 billion people have been made poorer. So it’s not about no money in society, it’s about who has it.
Your strike is part of a bigger fight from our class saying that we should have more of the money available – for us, and also for those we provide a service to. That’s why it matters that you win, and if we can help you by bringing solidarity then we will. Last year, some members of our branch here in Camden took indefinite strike action for 59 days, and they had a huge win – they increased their pay by £5,000 this year, and above inflation rises for the next 2 years as well. The lesson that they teach us is that if you fight, it’s possible to win!
Solidarity to you all,
Liz Wheatley (Branch Secretary) and Jacqui Wallace (Branch Chair)