A POTENTIAL strike by social work staff in West Dunbartonshire is believed to have been suspended.

Talks aimed at averting the action are said to have made “encouraging progress”.

Both sides in the dispute, sparked off by a range of issues including excessive workloads, met last week after UNISON said its members had voted overwhelmingly for strike action.

On Monday, West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership said although the dispute was not yet fully resolved, various issues were being addressed.

It added: “We are pleased that we have jointly identified and agreed concrete steps to address staffing levels, workloads and working environments.

Read more: Social work staff vote for strike in West Dunbartonshire

“While the dispute is not yet fully resolved, we appreciate the time our employees have given us to implement these immediate, interim and longer term measures to achieve full resolution. We are all focused on delivering the best possible service for the families in our community who need our help most.”

Jim Griffin, UNISON steward and social worker, said: “This is encouraging progress. The team remains committed to ensuring we meet the needs of our service users, and hope the means to do so will be agreed through the coming consultation.”

Jonathan Hinds, head of service and chief social work officer, added: “The progress made during our discussions has been productive and we are committed on working diligently to deliver further meaningful progress by August 31.”

The dispute blew up over UNISON’s concerns about excessive workloads, inappropriate working environments and health and safety issues.

Prior to last week’s talks, the union issued a statement saying social work staff had voted overwhelmingly to take strike action.

The ballot saw 98.6 per cent of members voting in favour of strike action and 100 per cent voting in favour of action short of a strike.

UNISON described it as a phenomenal result which “showed members’ determination to take strike action should it be necessary.”