ADULT social work staff working for Isle of Wight Council angered by the authority's controversial proposal to work on a mandatory, rather than voluntary rota, could take strike action say trade union, Unison.  

Employees on standby are required to respond to emergency situations over the telephone, or in-person, outside working hours.

"Although this has always had an impact on their work-life balance — plus their family, care and social commitments — staff found a consensus between them to ensure there was 24-hour cover," says the union.

However, moves to impose a new compulsory scheme on the 90 staff affected by it, has caused anger.

Social workers have already agreed, overwhelmingly, to take industrial action, with the initial withdrawal of goodwill on standby shifts having the potential to develop into a strike, adds Unison.

The union's South East regional organiser, James Smith, said: “This dispute could be resolved speedily. But it requires managers to halt their current proposals and involve staff in developing a workable alternative.

“Unfortunately, the council’s combative stance has made an issue that could have been resolved through agreement much more challenging.

“A long-term solution can be found, but pressing ahead with these plans could endanger the stability of this vital service.”

UNISON Isle of Wight's local government branch secretary, Mark Chiverton said he was non-plussed with the council's stance.

“This is an award-winning social work team that’s always worked extremely hard to ensure Isle of Wight residents are provided with an excellent service, seven days a week, 24 hours a day," Mr Chiverton said.

“They’ve achieved that through consensus and working with the council. That’s what makes these new proposals so disappointing.

“We’ve seen how successful constructive talks can be in avoiding disputes. Staff are happy to consider alternatives, but only if there’s an agreement that works for social workers.”

The Isle of Wight Council has been approached for a response.