We welcome the setting up of the new Child and Family Agency. However, the chief executive of the Child and Family Agency has stated that a new ‘graduate placement scheme’ will ‘see young graduates in social work departments honing their skills in order that they fully understand the complex challenges facing families before they eventually join the workforce’ (The Irish Times, 30 Jan 2014). Significantly, those participating in the ‘scheme’ will placed on a salary below that of starting salaries negotiated, by the trade unions, with the government over a number of years. We, therefore, condemn the plan to set up a so-called ‘graduate placement scheme’ because it:
- Represents a cynical move to ‘drive down’ salaries within the social work sector and would install a new layer of ‘cheap labour’ within the profession.
- Likely to prompt other social work employers to also reduce starting salaries for newly qualified social work professionals.
- Risks undermining the morale of the new agency by unilaterally seeking to undermine the terms of condition of employment.
- Fails to recognise that fully qualified, CORU registered social workers should be entitled, as part of the workforce, to salaries negotiated over a number of years.
- Dilutes the significance of CORU accredited social work training programmes and ignores the fact that students will have already completed lengthy placements as part of their training.
- Conveys the bogus idea that students emerging from social work programmes are all ‘young’ ignoring that fact that many newly qualified social work professionals are ‘mature’ and have accumulated a number of years of relevant experience even before commencing social work education.
- Demand that Child and Family Agency to immediately withdraw this ill-thought out plan to set up a ‘graduate placement scheme’ which fails to recognise the existing terms and condition of employment within the sector. In this context, we also call on our trade unions, social work education institutions, CORU and service user organisations to seek the immediate abandonment of this plan.
- Call for a National SWAN demonstration to take place on Friday 21 March 2014, (1-2pm) outside Dail Eireann; organising slogan will be ‘Respect Social Work, NO to Cheap Labour!’
- Call on students on social work courses, throughout Ireland, to network and begin to organise for the March demonstration.
- Agree to write to our local TDs asking them to oppose the new scheme.
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