Housing - an apology

Dear UNISON member

I have been alerted to comments attributed to me in a report on inside housing.

http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/regulation/council-workers-strike-over-tupe-plans/6520385.article

in particular this statement

“Our view is that if the council want to make savings then they should get rid of the ALMO and get rid of the chief executive and bring it all back under council control.”

In my role as branch secretary I have spoken to the literally hundreds of journalists looking for the trade union response to a particular story. On this occasion the journalist from ‘Inside Housing’ was one of the several calls consecutively I took on a freezing cold picket line outside NLBP on Thursday 9 February.

I can now see how this ‘sound bite’ may have caused upset amongst a number of our members working for Barnet Homes.

I want to make it clear that I have always been 100% behind defending services and frontline jobs and anyone who knows me or has spoken with me would I hope agree.

The report presents only part of what I was saying on the phone. The reason he called was to discuss why housing workers were on strike as our branch had reported that UNISON members in Housing Needs & Resources had been balloted. I had to explain to the journalist that there were no housing workers on strike as we had not felt it right to continue with the call for strike action with such a low turnout in the ballot.

The reporter then asked about why we had balloted and why housing workers were so fearful of transferring to Barnet Homes. The conversation then led to the UNISON report submitted to Cabinet as a response to the Council report recommending that housing staff transfer to Barnet Homes. I explained that our report made it clear that there had been no ‘options appraisal’ or robust ‘business case’ to support this proposal, furthermore our report believed there would be greater savings if the ALMO was brought back in-house.  I added there could of course be savings such as the role of the Chief Executive and a number of senior positions. This factor was recognised in the robust ‘Options Appraisal’ carried out by conservative run Hillingdon Council.

What I said was that I would rather frontline services and posts be saved at the expense of senior management posts. However that was not reported in the article

Unfortunately we are living in difficult times, I along with a number of UNISON reps are supporting more and more members facing redundancy and/ cuts to their terms & conditions.

I have been driven as branch secretary to fight for jobs and services and it is especially important in the current climate times that public services are not seen to be too bureaucratic and top heavy with highly paid officers.

It appears that staff working in Barnet Homes are unaware that that there is a restructure coming as a consequence of the merging of the two services. UNISON has made it clear it will oppose all compulsory redundancies. Housing Needs & Resources workers have been told that there will be a restructure as early as June, only three months after their TUPE transfer to Barnet homes.

In response to our members concerns about redundancy I will be making it clear in discussions with Barnet Council and Barnet Homes that UNISON will be seeking confirmation no staff transferred to Barnet Homes will face compulsory redundancy.

I am not clear if Barnet Homes have consulted with staff about the risk to frontline jobs in Barnet Homes as a result of this merger. If you are a UNISON member in Barnet Homes and you want to know more contact your local rep Anne Denison.

What I do have experience of is dealing with what happened to the former Connaught’s workers and their experiences make nightmare reading and now they face their fourth TUPE transfer since leaving the council.

Finally, I would like to draw members attentions to the comments made by members of the public at the end of the article.