Barnet UNISON Branch Secretary writes to Imperium Solutions to stop strikebreaking. 

Barnet UNISON Branch Secretary writes to recruitment company Imperium Solutions to stop strikebreaking.

“Dear Imperium Solutions

I am aware that you have been contracted by the London Borough of Barnet. UNISON members are currently engaged in a trade dispute with the London Borough of Barnet. Staff at London Borough of Barnet are currently taking industrial action, in the form of strike action from 13 May to 12 July 2024.

Our dispute concerns the mass exodus of staff. It is important that you fully understand the local situation. Including planned departures, approximately 30 mental health social workers will have left the service over the course of 22 months.

I am asking you to stop providing a resource for Barnet Council. The resource you are providing is work normally provided by workers who are taking industrial action to improve their conditions at work in a bid to provide stability to service users and their families. This is a dispute about public safety. Your activity is undermining the staff members who normally provide this service. It also means that you are prolonging the pain for our communities.

It is widely acknowledged by industry as a whole that providing agency workers to undermine strike action puts the safety of the public and workers at risk. I and my members are wondering why you would want to be a part of that and have your name associated with that kind of activity.

This strike has been ongoing for ten months and is already one of the longest running strikes in UNISON’s 30-year history. This dispute is regularly reported on by Community Care (12 articles in 10 months), a publication widely read by all social workers. Whilst you may be of the view that you have nothing to do with this dispute your actions will be seen as politically motivated. Because of the national profile of this dispute your organisation risks being forever associated as an agency which specifically engaged workers to undermine a lawful strike of our members.

You may be aware that another contractor was asked to carry out the work you have been asked to do on behalf of Barnet Council. Following communication with UNISON, that organization withdrew from the contract.

On behalf of our members, I am urging you to withdraw from this contract with Barnet Council.

Best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary.

Barnet UNISON “






Labour controlled Barnet Council using a recruitment agency to break our strike.

The question on the lips or our members is why Barnet Labour Party is promoting anti-union tactics using Tory legislation i.e. Trade Union Act 2016, the Minimum Service Levels (Strikes) Bill and the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2022 whilst at the same time the Labour Party during the General Election is promoting “Delivering A New Deal for Working People.”

The Labour Party is promoting a policy called: Delivering A New Deal for Working People.

This is an extract:

As the recent period of disruption has shown, arcane bureaucratic hurdles do not prevent strikes and make it harder for unions to engage in the bargaining and negotiation that does settle disputes. The rules around agency workers in breaking strikes were condemned by industry and put the safety of the public and workers at risk. It places unnecessary red tape on trade union activity that work against their core role of negotiation and dispute resolution. Over the past 14 years, the Conservatives have consistently attacked rights at work, including through the Trade Union Act 2016, the Minimum Service Levels (Strikes) Bill and the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2022 – all of which Labour will repeal to give trade unions the freedom to organise, represent and negotiate on behalf of their workers.

View the full document here.

Last week UNISON issued a letter asking Barnet Council to stop their course of action.

“UNISON’s view LBB may be guilty of the common law offence of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring a criminal offence, conspiracy under section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 or encouraging the commission of a crime under sections 44 and 45 of the Serious Crime Act 2009. Your use of agency workers during a period of strike may also be unlawful as a matter of public law. Any employment businesses who provide workers to LBB in breach of Regulation 7 may also be exposed to civil liability.”

To date Barnet Council and Imperium Solutions are still working together to break our lawful strike.



Thanks Holly: Barnet resident takes delivery of Barnet VOICE newspaper.

Barnet resident Holly taking delivery of Barnet VOICE newspapers which explains to Barnet residents why #BarnetUNISON mental health social workers are on strike.

Barnet UNISON, with the help of strikers and residents, has already circulated 10,000 newspapers and is now planning on delivering thousands more newspapers during a general election.

Residents are contacting Holly to collect boxes to deliver to their street.

If you want to help deliver our newspaper, please email


You can view our newspaper online by clicking the link below


UNISON issue challenge to Labour controlled Barnet Council over strike breaking


Today 23 May 2024 UNISON issued a serious legal letter to the Chief Executive of Barnet Council John Hooton regarding a decision made by senior officers to procure the services of an organisation called Imperium Solutions to procure these workers to operate LBB’s mental health duties and triage functions.

UNISON in their letter go on to say:

“These are functions of LBB and we assume that LBB will remain accountable for their delivery. It is therefore not the case that LBB is outsourcing a service; rather, it is procuring workers to provide the exact services normally provided by its own workers during a period of strike. Therefore, should LBB procure strike cover as described in this letter, it would be procuring the services of an employment business, Regulation 7 of the Regulations would be breached and a criminal offence would be committed under the Employment Agencies Act 1973. As explained above, this would likely also mean a number of ancillary criminal offences are committed by LBB.”

The letter goes on to state:

“UNISON’s view LBB may be guilty of the common law offence of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring a criminal offence, conspiracy under section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 or encouraging the commission of a crime under sections 44 and 45 of the Serious Crime Act 2009. Your use of agency workers during a period of strike may also be unlawful as a matter of public law. Any employment businesses who provide workers to LBB in breach of Regulation 7 may also be exposed to civil liability.”

Barnet Council has in its means the power to end this dispute. In negotiations they have already stated that it would be “easier and cheaper” to agree to UNISON demands for recruitment and retention payment for mental health social workers across the three teams. But someone at Barnet Council is preventing this dispute from happening. News from our membership is that more staff have handed in their notice and there are likely to be more unless someone takes responsibility for this mental health catastrophe and meets UNISON halfway to resolve the dispute.

Today our members have now taken 46 days of strike action with another 36 days to take unless this dispute is resolved.

Last night the Prime Minister announced the date of the General Election, 4 July 2024. Whilst the Labour Party is preparing to win all three seats across Barnet, our members with the support of residents will be handing out thousands and thousands of our community newspapers which explain the reasons why our members are striking and the imminent catastrophic collapse of mental health social work in Barnet.

Our members want to work in a safe working environment with no waiting lists and fair pay. A recruitment and retention payment will help encourage existing staff to remain and help Barnet Council recruit experienced mental health social workers that they badly need before it is too late.

UNISON’s letter finishes with this:

“I repeat my request that you confirm to me in writing as soon as reasonably practicable and in any event prior to 28 May 2024 that you will not seek to procure external workers to provide cover for striking employees.

If you are unable to provide this confirmation or otherwise disagree with the information contained in this letter, I request that you notify me of this by reply as soon as reasonably practicable.

I reserve UNISON’s right to notify the relevant authorities of any potential criminal offences and also to seek relief via the courts, including injunctive relief through judicial review proceedings, should you fail to provide the requested confirmations and agreements by 28 May 2024.

I look forward to hearing from you.”

John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON : “It is deeply disappointing that we are where we are. UNISON has been trying for the past 20 months to avoid this dispute. We’ve had countless meetings both on the record and off the record to try and find a place where we could find an agreement. The problem is the Council keep changing their position and the critical factor is that the real decision maker has not been present in any of the negotiating meetings. The letter issued by UNISON is extremely professional and has made it very clear of the serious risks facing Barnet Council if they continue to pursue an adversarial approach to this dispute. I am still hopeful that someone in a Leadership position in Barnet Council will approach UNISON about meeting us halfway to end the dispute and try and restore stability within the mental health social work teams.”


Barnet UNISON Mental Health Social Worker Strike Solidarity Wall

Barnet UNISON Mental Health workers began strike action on pay in September 2023.

This is a live wall which is continuously updated as messages of solidarity are sent to our branch. SEE BELOW 

I am writing on behalf of the Greater London Regional Local Government Executive to send our support and solidarity to your striking mental health social workers. We recognise the importance of social workers to society and believe they need to be paid a decent and proper wage for their vital work.


We also wish to place on record our concern at the actions of Barnet Council to undermine the lawful strike action and are aware UNISON nationally is looking at whether they are acting in breach of the law. Whether or not it is in breach of the law we find it morally wrong that a Labour Council would seek to go down this path rather than spending their energies on trying to resolve the dispute via negotiation.


We wish you every success in your ongoing action and hope to hear news of a victory in the near future


Yours in solidarity

Sean Fox

Chair of the Greater London UNISON Local Government Committee

On behalf of Cardiff County UNISON Branch, our Branch Committee voted to show solidarity with the Mental Health Social Workers in Barnet UNISON.  And applaud the continued resistance to the bullying you are experiencing from a Labour run council.  Including their attempt to break the strike by using agency social workers which is a disgusting tactic to be used by a Labour run council!  Your struggle for effective recruitment and retention payments is completely justified at a time when services are being cut and workers pay and conditions are being attacked, social work recruitment and retention is at an all time high.  You are an example of what should be happening across the UK to fight for better pay and conditions not only for workers but for better conditions for those that use public services. Your campaign for “Safe service, no waiting lists, fair pay” is inspirational.

Solidarity and Victory to the Barnet Mental Health Social Workers!



We fully support your strike action. Mental health social workers need better pay and  conditions.

We are against agency workers employed to cover for workers who are on strike. This is an attack on all workers.

Your struggle for effective recruitment and retention payments is completely justified. Do not stand down.

Your fight is leading the way for this and future  governments to recognise that social care workers have rights and deserve to paid and treated better.


Lambeth UNISON


Portsmouth City UNISON fully supports the action taken by the adult social care members at Barnet.  Your struggle for effective recruitment and retention payments is completely justified and essential for the safety of workers and service users

Portsmouth City UNISON


This message is brought to you all from Dorset Local Government Branch , we applaud you for your stacanity and strength , you bring hope and power to all mental health social workers . Keep strong , we are behind and beside you

Dorset Local Government Branch

Solidarity with your Branch Mental Health Strikers!!

Staffordshire UNISON Branch

The Dorset Health Branch offers solidarity and support to the mental health social workers currently just beginning your next phase of your strike action, we stand with you comrades in spirit.


We think it is shocking you have had to strike for 7 weeks now despite UNISON trying to secure ways to reach a positive settlement.

Dorset UNISON health Branch


We would like to send our solidarity and support for all who are striking at Barnet from Monday. You and all your members are a shining example of activism and for all that is right in our union. We commend you on your resilience and never giving up the fight.✊🏻✊🏻

University of Bedfordshire UNISON

Solidarity to Barnet MH Social workers from Southend on Sea Local government  branch, who are horrified that Barnet council have not yet settled this dispute. Hiding behind excuses such as fair pay for others when they know recruitment and retention is the issue they need to deal with for AMHP’s and new recruits to MH social work. You have given them the evidence, yet they refuse to accept it from  the inability to recruit to the figures on those leaving Barnet.

They also now their rates of pay are below the surrounding councils so are already are getting workers and a service to the community on the cheap. This is not fair and needs to stopped.

This is shocking bullying tactics by this labour council and we are proud to stand by you, striking not only for a fair resolution (10%) R&R but also for a decent and fair service for some of the most vulnerable people in the community – how dare they hold to ransom people’s health and lively hoods when they can afford a resolution offered by the union. One workers have negotiated over. This is nasty and puerile tactics by this council, holding there feet to the fire over your demands is a must they will be exposed and defeated. You can win this Barnet! Solidarity greetings  from Southend  – we invite you back to speak over this period of strike action and send you a donation of 250 pounds  – brilliant to see such action it’s a boost to all workers!

Southend on Sea Local government  branch

Leeds Teaching Hospitals Branch Committee would like to send you this message of support and solidarity to all members involved in the social work strike.

To hear that you are taking this action as a result of the strain of working in under resourced teams is a theme sadly familiar to ourselves in the Health service. Your members have raised concerns as set out by their professional conduct, they are advocating for the people they serve, and are seemingly being ignored.

The continuing action the members are taking is inspirational and is a model for us all fighting cuts and falling standards as a result of underfunding.

UNISON Leeds Teaching Hospitals Health Branch

Leeds Unison sends it support and solidarity to everyone involved at the Barnet branch, in particular those involved in this dispute.

Well done for achieving 100% in favour of strike action, a marvellous achievement. It sounds like you have a really determined bunch of members and activists, and we at Leeds are convinced you’ll succeed in your aims.


I wish you all the best with your ongoing strike action and hope the dispute will be resolved soon. The letter from an ex-employee is very powerful so I hope LBB will finally take heed and give you what you are asking for.

Barnet UNISON Libraries Rep

On behalf of Portsmouth City UNISON Branch, our Branch Committee voted to applaud the resilience and courage of the Mental Health Social Workers in Barnet UNISON. Your struggle for effective recruitment and retention payments is completely justified and essential for the safety of workers and service users. Barnet Council must act now to ensure Metal Health Social worker pay in Barnet is competitive so there are sufficient workers with sufficient experience to run this frontline service. That you have taken 27 day of strike action and re-balloted with a 100% vote for further action on a 91% turnout shows how committed and determined you are. All Social Workers should follow your example and take action to ensure their employers provide them with safe staffing levels and safe workloads.

Our best wishes for your next 15-26 April strike and we hope Barnet Council comes to its senses and meets your demands in full so that your planned strikes in May, June and July are not required. Your campaign for “Safe service, no waiting lists, fair pay” is inspirational. You deserve the full support of UNISON and the wider trade union movement. Please let me know how we can donate to your hardship fund.

Solidarity and Victory to the Barnet Mental Health Social Workers!

Portsmouth City UNISON

At the recent Local Government Committee AGM, it was agreed to send a message of support and solidarity to the Barnet Mental Health Social Workers who are taking strike action.  We are sure Helen has fed this back already but we wanted to put something in writing also.

Could you please pass on to the strikers the Committee’s message of support for the solid strike action they have taken so far and continued support and solidarity as they now embark on further sets of escalating strike action.  They have shown great strength and determination in their struggle while faced with an employer who seems determined to ignore their rightful calls for decent pay.

Helen Reynolds (Regional Manager and Head of Local Government)

Sean Fox (Chair Regional Local Government Committee)


Southwark UNISON sends solidarity greetings to mental health social workers continuing strike action for fair pay and a safe service.

Southwark UNISON members were enormously inspired to hear from striking social worker  who spoke at our Branch Annual General Meeting in March. The courageous action from young social workers is an inspiration to all local government workers struggling in this cost of living crisis with low pay and the severe cuts to local government services.

Therefore, we are appalled to hear that the Council has now engaged agency workers to cover the work of the strikers. This is unlawful and as you have noted UNISON defeated the government in the High Court last year over strike-breaking legislation.

‘The High Court has ruled that the legislation which allows employers to use agency workers to replace those on strike, was unlawful, unfair, and irrational.’

This is a shocking way for a Labour Council to behave. And as you have said instead of trying to bully and intimidate the strikers, management should be talking to UNISON and coming up with a decent offer to settle the dispute.

We note your next round of strike action is 15-26th April with a mass picket on 15th April. We are urging our members to join the picket line for one of these days.

Victory to Barnet UNISON social workers!

Southwark UNISON


Sending solidarity to these wonderful workers who deserve far more understanding and respect than they are currently getting.

For a council that purports to promote mindfulness and wellbeing it seems rather paradoxical to not engage with our mental health professionals in a way that is meaningful and timely.

Barnet UNISON Steward Libraries

This is just a quick solidarity message from the Branch Committee at Norwich City branch to yourselves, wishing you all the best in your fight with Barnet Council on behalf of your Mental Health professionals, all of who give vital support to some of the most vulnerable residents of Barnet.  Tewsday Hannant raised your plight at our last meeting and it was agreed to offer this message along with an offer of assistance, if we can give it.  Please let us know.

Norwich City UNISON (April 2024)


Barnet UNISON Library Reps wish every success to the Barnet Mental Health Social Workers industrial action and ongoing campaign for fair pay and in defence of an essential service. These workers perform a vital and highly stressful role helping the most vulnerable members of our communities and the Council should recognise this and act accordingly.


Hugh Jordan


Good luck to you all in your dispute. I apologise but I can’t get to the picket line this week but intend to come to the rally outside Hendon Townhall.

Keep up the fight,


(Lord Hendy KC)

Good luck with your industrial action for the rest of this week and I convey both solidarity and respect to your branch from PCS MOJ Northern Wales branch. All the best.


Hi John

We’re sending you our messages of solidarity from across our nations and regions and particularly from our branches in the North West.

That was a fantastic result with 100% voting for strike action. What Barnet Unison Mental health social worker did it is the perfect and strongest messages for the rest of other health workers that :


It is the ” U ”

And the “I ” in the UNION

That makes us



The Labour movement was the principal force that transformed the misery and despair into hope that progress. Yes, we can win

Once again Congratulations

In solidarity

Julia Mwaluke

Black Members Reserved Seat, NEC

UNISON Vice President


“I want to congratulate every one of the Barnet Unison Mental Health Social Workers who sent back their strike ballot. 78.95% returned ballots with a 100% vote for strike action is an incredible victory against the Tory anti trade union laws and a victory for the collective unity of the workers. United we are strong.

This action from Unison members is in defence of their jobs and to protect the communities  services under attack from further cuts and profiteering.

Your fightback is inspirational and sends a clear message that enough is enough.

Congratulations once again and solidarity. Libby Nolan, UNISON President.


“Social Workers do a difficult but essential job, providing a service to some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Working in Local Government we’re all too familiar with the impact of cuts to funding – we have less resources and less people to try to provide the same level of service. And we know that austerity impacts on people’s mental health, meaning at times like we have now, your service is even more critical.

We also know that we can provide a better service if we are paid and treated properly. But the government and too often our bosses don’t value us – although they never seem to have a problem paying themselves more money!

In a society that is increasingly divided, where we have more billionaires than ever before, it’s disgraceful that important workers like you aren’t paid properly. Your ballot result was amazing – smashing through the Tory anti-union threshold and having 100% in favour of action is brilliant!

We currently have a group of our branch members out on indefinite strike – they too voted 100% for action – and Barnet UNISON has consistently supported our members. It is a privilege to be able to return the solidarity and support you. If you end up needing to take action, we will be visiting your picket lines and looking at how else we can show our support.

In solidarity, Liz Wheatley Branch Secretary Camden UNISON


Dear Barnet UNISON Mental Health Social Workers,

I want to take a moment to express my wholehearted support and solidarity with you as you make the courageous decision to go on strike. It’s clear that Barnet Council has not adequately recognized the serious understaffing problems within your frontline Mental Health social work teams.

Your dedication to providing crucial mental health services is truly admirable, and it’s disheartening to see your concerns go unaddressed. It’s essential for all workers to have safe and manageable workloads to deliver the best care to those who depend on your services.

I applaud your commitment to standing up for your rights and the well-being of your clients. It’s a challenging step to take, but your actions are a testament to your unwavering dedication to the welfare of the community you serve.

Please know that many people, both within and outside your community, are behind you during this difficult time. Your fight for better conditions and staffing levels is just one, and I hope that Barnet Council will listen and take action to address these critical issues promptly.

Stay strong and resolute in your cause and may your strike lead to positive changes that benefit both you and the individuals who rely on your essential services.

In solidarity, Mohamed, Barnet Unison


I have heard you are out on strike. I am a school nurse leader in Tameside, Greater Manchester but I used to work in Barnet 2005-2012. I want you to know you have my full support. We will never get experienced staff to stay unless we pay them better and it is patients and service users who lose out when they are not there. We have precisely the same issue in school nursing and health visiting – plus I see Tameside social workers are nearly always agency because they can’t afford not to be. I see them burn out within months and have families on my caseload who have had 6 social workers in 12 months. It isn’t good enough and it isn’t the fault of the workers, or even their management. Loads of complex issues but, if you consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, they need to start at the bottom and recruit and retain staff in order to start to make inroads on the other issues. Sending you the best of luck with your strike and hoping someone ‘who can’ sits up and takes notice. Natalie Jones ,School Nurse Practice Education and Development Lead Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust


Hello, I’ve heard that social workers are striking. I’m a discharge team nurse at UCLH and want to say that I appreciate all that you do and totally support your action.

Dani-Louise McMahon 


Just wanting to send a message to striking social work staff, we’re all on the same side and the public support is there. We’re not backing down, not for this government nor the next one.

Enough is enough. Graham.


Can you please pass on this message of support and solidarity to the mental health social workers taking strike action?

I have worked for over 30 years in mental health services in Salford. I have the greatest respect for my social work colleagues in mental health services, and I am aware of the stress they work under, with high caseload numbers and low pay. Our most experienced staff are becoming burnt out, as they try and work under these testing conditions.

There is a severe shortage of mental health front line staff, and your inspirational action is the most effective way to deal with these issues. Our branch will be supporting your campaign, and we will encourage other branches to get involved in your struggle.


Kevin Corran UNISON NEC (Health) Assistant Branch Secretary Gtr Manchester Mental Health Branch UNISON


Hi to all the striking social workers in Barnet mental health teams.

I am a mental health worker in Manchester and want to offer you both my and my colleagues full support in your fight for recruitment and retention premiums. Low pay for what we do is endemic across the public sector. And the work is hard and stressful. We will never retain experienced staff if we don’t pay them properly and its users of our services, their carers and the wider community and mental health workers who suffer when we are given responsibilities above our experience levels.

The money is there to pay you. I’ll is still one of the richest countries in the world and profits continue to rise, 75% since the beginning of the pandemic. Why didn’t our wages go up the same??

This government wants to cut out pay and our services. You are standing up for both. You are an inspiration. We are trying to run a similar campaign right across our inpatient and CMHT staff groups. If you win this will encourage our staff.

All the very best. We will discuss a donation to your hardship fund at our next meeting.

Karen Reissmann, Vice chair greater Manchester mental health unison branch


I’m a medical student with the BMA, having worked as an HCA with the RCN the previous year. I just wanted to send a massive message of solidarity for turning out on strike in the coming weeks. Across the health sector workers and patients have been brutalised and exploited. Standing up as you are is vital, not just for yourself but for all those who work, use, or believe in public healthcare free at delivery.

You, and millions of other healthcare workers in the UK and beyond, all deserve massive pay rises and far better conditions. Without pay, we have no staff. Without staff, there is no NHS.

Strike to win!



I stand by all the social workers who have to strike in order to get their voices heard.

Katherine Benford


On behalf of Hendon School Unison support staff we would like to say we offer our

support to the Social workers at Barnet Council in their dispute as we fully appreciate

how hard and what a difficult job you do, and the dedication you need to support

Children and adults in need in the community.

David – Unison Rep – Hendon School.


Solidarity from all at Kirklees Unison for your Branches Mental health social workers on strike tomorrow.

In solidarity

Mick Donoghue Branch Secretary Convenor Kirklees Unison


Sending support and solidarity to Barnet’s adult mental health social workers from union members at Tudor Primary School. Wishing you strength and determination for a swift victory with an outcome that meets your demands and recognises the need for the service to be well funded and fully staffed, with a stable workforce that can meet the needs of your clients.

Workers in schools know, from our daily experience at work, the importance of good mental health support and social support for our local community. Workers providing these services must not be taken for granted.

Solidarity for your struggle for decent pay and staff retention!

David Ball, Unison rep at Tudor Primary School, Finchley 


“Support and solidarity from Leeds East in your fight for fair pay. You do such vital work and it needs to be recognised and fairly remunerated. Solidarity! Richard Burgon MP”.


This one is from Ian Byrne MP Sending solidarity from Liverpool West Derby for your fight for fair pay and conditions. Your fight is our fight  & we are all behind your struggle. Ian Byrne MP


This one is from Graeme Morris MP Top Solidarity and every support for your just cause for fair pay for the vital work you do from Grahame Morris MP for Easington and Chair of the Unite Group In Parliament.


This one from Andy McDonald MP “Solidarity from Middlesbrough. Yours is just cause.  Huge thanks for the vitally important work you do for us all. You have the respect and admiration of the whole country but dignity at work can only be secured if it is founded on fair and proper pay. We stand with you in your struggle”


This one from Ian Mearns MP Respect and solidarity from Gateshead. Your cause is just and true appreciation is not about banging pans on the doorstep but standing side by side with you in your struggle for a fair and decent wage!


This one from Ian Lavery MP Massive Solidarity from Wansbeck. This constant fight for simple justice for decent wages terms and conditions alongside the real issue of respect in the workplace should be basic human rights. Your fight is our fight too. Respect and solidarity Ian Lavery MP.


This one from Rebecca Long Bailey MP “Solidarity from Salford. Your role holds our NHS together. Full support in your fight for the pay and respect you deserve”


This from Apsana Begum MP “Solidarity from East London. Keep up the good fight and thank you for looking after the most vulnerable of people in our society. Apsana Begum MP, UNISON member.”


This one from Kim Johnson MP Support and solidarity  from Liverpool Riverside, long time member and former rep, your fight is our fight✊🏽


From Christine Blower Labour member of Lords “Solidarity in this struggle for the pay you need and deserve.’


From Shami Chakrabarti Labour House of Lords “Total solidarity in your struggle, not just for your own pay, conditions and dignity but for the defence of the vital health services of us all.” – Shami C


From Kate Osborne MP Please pass on my solidarity.


Please send my colleagues a message of solidarity from me and I will try and join the picket line for a while on 4th and 11th October if I can.

I understand all your frustrations about pay and working conditions and that these need to keep pace with Family Services. Our work serves the community equally and should be acknowledged as of equal value. Burnt out workers is too high a price to pay!

See you on the picket line!

Kind regards. Liz Shaw  


Sending our mental health social work colleagues my support, in what are already challenging times, in more ways than one.  Thinking of you all in these very difficult times. You all do an amazing job!!

Kind Regards Fiona Wood


I fully support the action you are taking. It is terrible how a job that is as important as yours is under paid and therefore completely undervalued. We need social workers and I am really sorry you have been treated so shoddily.

Anna Cane.


Congratulations, your first day looks fabulous. We work in a mental health NHS trust and are looking to mirror your dispute. Safe Staffing does not exist anywhere and will only be solved when they pay staff enough to recruit more of us.

Well done for today, solidarity from Greater Manchester mental health unison, we are sure you can win and hopefully will inspire more fight backs

Karen Reissmann GMMH Unison.


Can I on behalf of Unison’s Medway Health Branch  ( Gillingham, Kent ) pass on our solidarity and best wishes to all involved in your industrial action. Stay strong, what you are doing is an inspiration and gives confidence to us all.

In Solidarity, Andrew Travers, Branch Secretary, Unison.


Dear colleagues,

I regret that I can’t be with you today, and I hope to join your picket line in the next strike days.

So for the time being, I am sending you my sentiments of admiration for your determination to resolve the impossible working conditions you are experiencing, your determination to resolve it for the sake of your service users as much as for your own sake.

As a social worker myself, having worked in Early Intervention in Psychosis as well as with people living with mental illnesses and dementia, and as someone whose nearest and dearest need and benefit from mental health services, I know only too well the crucial role of a mental health social worker.

No one but you is there to really SEE your service users in their pain, confusion and suffering. You are the ones who see their whole person, in their environment and unique circumstances, and you are the ones who can bring their voice to the attention of the medical staff in multidisciplinary teams, and advocate for them. Every one of your clients NEEDS you – need a social worker!

Without you it would be only the medical model that prevails, to the frustration of so many service users.

And we all know that often people disengage from mental health services out of frustration, as they feel unseen and unheard in the face of the medical approach that sees only the illness.

You are the ones who understand your users and can keep them engaged with the service.

They need you to be able to do you work properly!  Barnet Mental Health Services needs you! Our community needs you! Our society needs you!

So thank you for taking action, thank you for making this difficult decision to strike – I am sure that your clients know you are fighting for them too. And so should your bosses know!

Best of success in your strike – I hope it will not need to be long…


Tirza Waisel, Barnet resident and social worker


Please pass on my message of solidarity to the striking social workers. I hope the strike goes well and has a great outcome for them (and ultimately the people they serve).

Although I now work for the CQC, I used to be a community mental health nurse working in an integrated health and social services team. Community mental health staff had a tough job, which must be so much harder now after over a decade of austerity (I left in 2012).

I am sorry I can’t get to a picket line – Barnet is a rather long way from Dorset and I am flat out at work (and as a union steward), so can’t take the time off.

All the very best, Alison Mesher (Member and activist of UNISON Dorset)


In an ever-changing world and with all the challenges we have to face every day, this is not an easy job to work in. There is an increasing need in this area especially after the pandemic and the more awareness which is being sent out about Mental health.

Sending all lots of positive energies and strength they can achieve a good outcome and resolution ; just so unfortunate people are having to go on strike to make themselves heard .

Good Luck 😊

Deepti Rattan


Dear Comrades,

I am sending you greetings and a message of support from the Whittington Hospital Branch of Unison. We are pleased to let you know that we have agreed to donate £150 to your strike fund at our Branch Committee Yesterday.

We believe that your fight for pay equity is completely just and should be honoured by Barnet Council. Working in the NHS we fully understand the need to pay staff fairly and equally for what they do – this goes a long way to retain and recruit people. There are enormous pressures on staff who work in mental health who often do long hours unpaid, and like staff in the NHS experience burnout. Your decision to take strike action for pay equity with Barnet’s Family Service Social Workers must be supported.

We hope to bring our banner to any rallies that you may be holding and show our solidarity……!!! This is a fight that you must win!

On Behalf of the Whittington Hospital Branch of Unison,

In Solidarity, Claire Dixon, Whittington Health UNISON Branch Secretary,


I live in Barnet, and I’m a long-term mental health service user. I didn’t know that social workers in Barnet are on different pay grades, this is completely unacceptable, and I have written to Barnet council to urge them to equitably apply their recruitment and retention policy and to demonstrate that they value mental health community services as much as Children and Family Services.


Due to my poor mental health I can’t stand with you on the picket line today but you have my full support for your strike action, and I am with you in spirit. Thank you for all the great work you do.


Solidarity, Janette




Dear Barnet Hounslow colleagues

I am Bill Reed, Secretary of Hounslow LG Unison Branch. Solidarity and our full support to your members in Mental Health social work on their dispute and recent strike action. We in Hounslow are appalled by what we read of your Labour Council’s attitude to the strike but support the resolve of your members to get a fair settlement of their dispute.

Hounslow Unison has a Committee meeting on Wednesday 18 October, commencing at 4.30 pm, and we would like to invite a speaker from your Branch or from the dispute, to tell us the full picture of the way this dispute arose and the way the Branch has responded.

You may have received these requests from Ian Clements who is Chair of the Trades Council. If there is duplication I apologise.

We hope to give material support to your cause at both meetings.

Many thanks Bill Reed


Dear Barnet UNISON,


I am writing on behalf of Lambeth UNISON to express our support and solidarity for your social work strike. Your action is essential for your social workers, social workers across the country and service users who need to see an improvement.


We hope hoped you would be able to arrange a speaker (in person or via zoom) to speak to our social work members about your action.


In solidarity, Ruth Cashman


Gabby Lawler Branch Secretary of Havering UNISON sending solidarity to all Barnet UNISON Mental Health Social Workers who begin their strike action.

Good luck with your dispute and as a union activist I and all of Havering UNISON Branch are standing with you.  Social Work is a tough job in any climate but after the many years of austerity and cuts in social care as well as local government funding the role of a Mental Health Social Worker has become challenging and in some local authorities unsafe by way of case numbers.  Recruitment and Retention is essential in keeping residents safe and your fight for pay equality is justified and Havering UNISON wish you every success in your strike, stand tall and stand together.

We are with you every step of the way.

Gabby Lawler Branch Secretary of Havering UNISON


I’m sorry I can’t be with you today – I had a prior engagement meeting with Higher Education activists to discuss their own fight for better pay. But I’d like to send my full support and solidarity to Barnet and Brighton social workers in this crucial dispute. I know none of you will have taken lightly the decision to take strike action – you’re doing it because you need to. And I am with you all the way.


Social work is a vital profession. You do enormously difficult work, supporting some of the most vulnerable people in society, and you do it in the face of a kind of media and political scrutiny which is completely unwarranted. The majority of local authorities are struggling to hold onto the social workers they have, and it’s not surprising, given what you have to put up with.

Please know that all of UNISON stands with you in your fight for better pay and conditions. Solidarity and best wishes.

Mike Short – head of local government



Dear Workers

Just to let you know, there are PLENTY of right-minded people who support your action & wish you success.

Kind Regards, Des



Dear Unison

Please pass the message of Solidarity to the Mental Health Workers and let us hope that Barnet council respond to your strike. You are a valuable resource for the Council.

Kind regards Zeenat Syed TUC and NEU Barnet



Good afternoon

I am writing in my capacity of Chair of the South West UNISON Regional Local Government Service Group to stand in solidarity to the members within your Branch who have been forced to take strike action in order to defend their rights, pay and jobs. We know that in local government, and in social work, this is an extremely difficult stance to take and one that is not taken lightly. Many of our Committee are experiencing issues with recruitment and retention of social workers within their own employers, who believe market supplements and other unfair and unsustainable methods will help them in their cause. Instead, as you have shown, it is making members angry, upset and concerned to the point that they can do nothing else but take this type of action. You and your members are inspirational to us all, and we wish you the greatest support with all future negotiations

Kind Regards

Kerry Gray Chair UNISON South West Local Government Service Group








Where are all the mental health social worker strikers going?

For the past three weeks our mental health social worker strikers have been delivering our community newspaper to Barnet residents. It is a big borough but our strikers like a challenge and with the help of Barnet residents they are now focused on taking our dispute into the community.

You can view our Barnet VOICE community newspaper online here



Barnet Council announce plans to strike break.

Below is an email which was sent at 16.48 pm Friday 17 May 2024 to all staff working across the Adult Social Care Directorate. UNISON comments are in bold.

“Dear colleagues,

I am writing to update you on the council’s proposals for a recruitment and retention payment for social workers and occupational therapists in adult social care and the current strike action being taken by a number of Barnet Unison members in three out of our six mental health teams.

The council has proposed offering a 5% recruitment and retention payment for qualified social workers, occupational therapists, and lead practitioners across adult social care.

The proposal also includes a £1,000 recruitment and retention payment for team managers of the social work and occupational therapy teams.

In all previous meetings you have been insistent that you could not have two tier payments across Adult Social Care. Your responses were that there was no evidence that could support mental health social workers receiving a higher rate than other staff across Adult Social Care. In this email you have changed your position by offering a different payment to team managers of the social work and occupational therapy teams.

“What objective criteria have you seen that has led you to change your offer from 5% to £1k?”

This has been rejected by Unison who want a 10% recruitment and retention payment for qualified social workers in the three striking mental health teams only.

Not true. We have rejected 5% for mental health social workers. The decision about payments to other staff is solely down to Barnet Council. It is their decision. It is shameful that Barnet Council are using this communication to gaslight mental health social workers as if they had the power to whether to make a payment to their work colleagues.

They have not requested additional payments for any other staff.

Not true. In all meetings and emails about the wider payment UNISON has been clear that this is a decision for the Council to make. UNISON does not have a dispute about a wider payment.

Our benchmarking shows that we pay competitively compared to other outer-London boroughs and will do so even more with this proposed new payment. Different arrangements exist across London for remuneration of AMHPs and the Barnet pay offer is very competitive. Having looked at councils across London offering recruitment and retention payments for adult social care, they all pay this equally across all teams, with the exception of one borough that offers a recruitment and retention payment to occupational therapists only.

We are of the view that our offer of a 5% recruitment and retention payment is fair and reasonable given the market benchmarking and that under our recruitment and retention policy it is only justifiable to make the offer to all adult social workers and occupational therapists.

A 10% increase in pay is not justifiable and is simply not sustainable. It will put more financial pressure on the services we offer our residents and – given the challenging financial position we find ourselves in – on the adult social care and council budget.

The current industrial action significantly reduces our ability to respond to residents’ requests for support with their mental health, and we have been unable to reach agreement with Unison on minimum staffing levels to ensure we can deliver a safe service to residents.

Not true. Two hours before this email was sent to all staff UNISON responded in an email where we said: “Finally, I need to advise you that UNISON will not suspend the action, but I can confirm we are available to meet and discuss your service concerns. It would help if you had someone in the meeting who has experience of running mental health services.”


We have asked Unison to suspend their industrial action so we can agree minimum staffing levels to ensure a safe service. But, given our statutory responsibilities in this area, we have come to the point where we are looking to hire an external provider to ensure we can maintain a safe, minimum level of service to residents throughout the strike. Our assessment is that additional resource will be needed imminently to manage this risk and to enable the council to effectively respond to urgent referrals in a reasonable timeframe. As such, we are in the process of procuring a duty service from a third-party organisation for a period of 10 weeks. The duty provider will screen all incoming work, triage cases and respond to the most urgent referrals.


Strike breaking: Barnet Council are using agency workers to carry out roles that our members would be carrying out if they were not on strike. This is the second attempt by Barnet Council to use agency workers to break the strike. Instead of wasting money on agency workers they should be settling this dispute.


I want to be clear that this is not the provision of agency staff and is an entirely legal mitigation for the council to take. We respect the right of staff to strike but we have now reached the point where we feel this action is necessary to protect residents and to ensure we fulfil our statutory responsibilities.


No this is strike breaking. The use of agency workers is being used deliberately by Barnet Council to undermine a fundamental right which protected as such under Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the freedom of assembly and association).


I would like to end by saying we appreciate the work our mental health social workers work do in a challenging environment – as well as that of all our other teams – and we hope we can swiftly resolve the dispute and focus on continuing to strengthen our services.


This message is disingenuous. Dawn has not attended any of the negotiating meetings. If they want to settle, then decision makers should be in these meetings. What has been deeply troubling has been that no one with experience of working in mental health social work has been present in any of the Acas talks or local negotiating meetings. In the last negotiating meeting UNISON asked that in future could the decision maker attend these meetings alongside someone with experience of working in mental health social work.

Kind regards,



***Updated: Monday 20 May 2024. UNISON received an email asking if we would release one of our strikers to cover AMHP duty this morning ask they had no one to cover because of sickness. UNISON agreed release. However, if Barnet Council continue with their current policy of refusing to acknowledge the growing recruitment and retention crisis there will be less than two AMPHs in these teams which is simply not safe or sustainable going forward.





Barnet resident writes to Adults and Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee

“Dear Councillors,

I am writing to you as members of the Adults and Health Overview and Scrutiny Sub-Committee.  You have a duty to ‘scrutinise the Health and Social Care Infrastructure and Services’ and in this regard I am writing to ask you URGENTLY address the ongoing crisis in the Mental Health Social Work Service.

It appears that despite our Mental Health Social Workers now being on strike for an unprecedented total of 72 days, I am appalled to note that your committee has not had a report or a discussion on the issue, when it is your responsibility as our elected representatives to ensure any Barnet service is safe and effective.


Mental Health Social workers are as highly trained and skilled as social workers in other departments and I would argue can carry higher risks and yet are NOT paid at the same rate as other Barnet Social Workers. The Barnet Mental Health Service is loosing social work staff as I write. Inexperienced staff and managers now have to run the service. Morale is rock bottom.  Waiting lists are unacceptably long. The reputation of Barnet as an employer is being damaged probably beyond repair. The strike is gaining support across the country and has been raised in Parliament as workers take this difficult and painful stand to protect the most vulnerable and marginalised.  Why would anyone want to work here?

I understand that the money is available to settle this dispute. Your committee needs to question why it is still dragging on, apparently without member involvement, and to whose benefit, and to require an immediate resolution. Perpetuating this dispute is certainly not in the interests of the staff, the clients and residents or the reputation of a Labour led London Borough.

Most alarmingly it appears that the young man who attacked and killed Anita Mukhey in Burnt Oak Broadway last Thursday, as reported by national and local press, may have had mental health issues.

Seven more weeks of strike action are planned, yet this dispute could be solved tomorrow with no impact to the budget.  How much more risk are you prepared to take?

Yours sincerely

A Barnet resident.”


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