Feedback on our meeting with Councillors on Tuesday 2 June

At our meeting we told Councillors that our exclusion from the Future Shape Groups meant we were not able to take part in the consultation. Last September we identified key issues for our members e.g. Pay, annual leave and Pensions, but to date these issues were not viewed as a priority at this stage. We have asked that the Trade Unions need to be fully involved in a future discussions about the Future of Council Services. We were informed a Future Shape report had been agreed at Corporate Directors Group, and a copy would be shared with the Trade Unions once more data had been added from the consultants.  

As for the final Future Shape report for the 6 July Cabinet Committee we will be given the report once it has been signed off by the Lead Cabinet member.  

Speculation in the NLBP village on what maybe being recommended is rife and understandable. I want to draw your attention to the 15 June Cabinet Resources Committee.  Section 3.2 says

“The service provided by the in-house Legal Service is in high demand to deliver on the Council’s priorities. Moving to the Council’s ‘Future Shape’ will involve additional and extensive legal input.”

Full report click here  

It is understandable that if there is going to be major change you will need a good legal team. It is interesting but not unexpected to see other Councils are also already making plans

“Currently, the “Consortium Councils” are the London Boroughs of Barnet, Bexley, Bromley, Havering, Hillingdon, Merton, Redbridge and Sutton.”

The Trade Unions need to examine the Tenderers’ Scores; it is interesting to see Essex County Council put in a tender.

“Which firm of solicitors were the successful bidders?”

Unfortunately this information is in the Exempt report, once it is approved at the committee the name of the firm will be made public.   

Back to Future Shape:

“Does this appointment of a panel of solicitors give an indication as to what we should expect in the Future Shape Cabinet Report 6 July?”  

I suppose we will have to wait for the report.

STOP the BNP

Dave Prentis, general secretary

It is crucial that members turn out and vote in the local and European elections this week. The BNP are peddling their politics of hate, and mobilising all their forces to take advantage of voter apathy, disillusionment and fear. 

Do not let the BNP gain ground through the recession by exploiting people’s fears over jobs or because of the row over MPs’ expenses.  

As public sector workers and service users we know that without the dedicated service of migrant workers many hospitals, schools and local government services would grind to a halt. We must work together to find a way out of the current financial crisis.  

Make your voice heard on 4 June – get out and vote. 

Take action to stop the BNP

Barnet’s Got Talent!

We may not have Susan Boyle working for Barnet but we do have talented staff. Whilst we wait for news on what Future Shape will mean for staff and public services I hope staff will be given the opportunity to contribute to any Future changes.  

 

Some Good News

 

Those of you who have had the time to look at the Future Shape website will have noticed the term ‘Quick Win’ on a number of slides. I believe the term ‘Quick Win’ has been acknowledged as an inappropriate term conveying a negative message.

 

Where is the good new news?

If and when services are packaged together they need to go through a robust process before any decisions are made.

 

Cemeteries and Crematorium services were put down as a ‘Quick win’ a Consultants report recommended the privatisation option. The Trade Unions produced a report which raised concerns about the process & recommendations in the report. I am pleased to report the service is going through the correct process. The Trade Unions and the staff are now part of the process. This is key.

 

Back to Future Shape, it is important that staff don’t panic if they see their service being packaged up for a possible privatisation model. There is still a great deal of work which would need to take place before any decisions about moving forward to a procurement including if an in house bid would be included.

 

From the little that is being made available the Seven Groups reflect the complexity of the problem facing Public Services across Barnet. It is important that decisions are not rushed which is why the Trade Unions are confused why there are different completion timescales for the Groups which are clearly interlinked.

To visualise the complexity we have constructed a diagram.

To view image click here http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/sites/default/files/Future_Shape_jenga1.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

Barnet Community Campaign organise lobby with Local residents

This evening approximately 100 Barnet residents took up their democratic right to protest against the budget proposal to delete the sheltered housing service.

Feelings are strong on this issue. In a time when ‘apathy rules’ it is good to see that people feel able to take up this issue. It was a major effort for most of the residents who turned up with walking sticks, zimmer frames, wheelchairs. Service users, relatives and friends have made an extraordinary effort to save the service.

Consultation has taken place. I hope the views have been taken on board. I don’t think anyone would disagree that we should be ensuring the vulnerable are fully supported.

We won’t know until Cabinet meet on 8 June what the decision is, I am sure there will be a lobby of the meeting and residents will want to sit in to hear the decision.

At a time when public confidence in politicians both local and national is at an all time low… it would be a significant sign to the electorate that sometimes the voices of the community are heard and solutions found.

Here are some pictures of the lobby

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28819825@N02/sets/72157618490276622/

Barnet UNISON supporting members in Schools

Nursery Nurses
Negotiations on re-grading for Nursery Nurses are still ongoing. We are awaiting confirmation of the offer before conducting a consultation ballot of our members.

Cover arrangement in schools
Guidance is now out called ‘Rarely cover implementation process’ To view this online click here

Cover is probably one of the biggest issues for support staff. It always seems to be our members who are asked to take on extra duties and not receive the correct grade for the work. Your excellent work is recognised, it is just a shame when we want staff to be paid for this work the same old lines roll out ‘…cuts to the budget, posts will have to go…’

National Negotiating machinery
The negotiations addressing the possibilty of a School Support Staff Negotiating Body (SSNB). Before UNISON would agree to joining the SSNB all our members would have to be consulted. This could have massive repercussions for all our members working in Schools.
The latest newsletter can be read online here.

Demo for Sheltered Housing

Around 200 people demonstrated in Finchley last Saturday in defence of the sheltered warden scheme.
This has very much been a community campaign. A large number of those on the demo were older people who feel so strongly about their wardens they took part in spite of the difficulty and discomfort they had walking such a distance. They were clearly determined to show residents of Barnet what such a cutback would mean to them and shouted their demands “Save Our Wardens” to the passers-by and onlookers.

Representatives of the GMB, RMT, UNISON, PCS, NUT all took part as part of the Barnet Trades Council. At the end of the demonstration Councillor Alison Moore and local MP Andrew Dismore gave speeches adding their support to the campaign. The provision of sheltered housing means that many relatives feel reassured their beloved elderly relations have a degree of security by being in sheltered accommodation and so find it easier to relax knowing help is close at hand for their relative. So there were younger family members on the demonstration making it quite clear what this support means to them also.

But when you get old, wouldn’t you want to know this type of provision exists? If you do then maybe it’s time you joined the campaign on its next stage and took part in the rally outside Hendon Town Hall at 6pm on 19 May 2009.

To view pictures of the demonstration, click here.

The Right Honourable…?

Just some of the claims

£4.47 for dog food, £115 for 25 light bulbs, £305.50 to “cure noise problems”, with her boiler, £312 for the fitting of mock Tudor beams, £600 for hanging baskets and pot plants, £765 claim from Ikea, £768 from Marks and Spencer’s for a bed, £1,350 in house repairs, £1,500 gardening bill, £2,000 to replace a leaking pipe under a tennis court, £2,074 for furniture and £2,339 for carpets, £3,194 bill for gardening, £9,000 a year for gardening, £13,000 in moving costs, £14,553 solicitors’ fees and stamp duty, £30,000 for doing up his £120,000 constituency, £75,000 to fund a second home in Westminster £35,000 in mortgage interest payments,

The former Prime Minister used his parliamentary expenses to remortgage his constituency home for £296,000 – nearly 10 times what he paid for it – just months before buying a west London house for £3.65m.

The prime minister paid his brother, Andrew, £6,577 for arranging cleaning services for his Westminster flat for 26 months

You can view it all online BBC website here.

Rank hypocrisy… politicians want to take your pension and hand you over to the private sector in order to bail out the inefficiency and gross negligence of the financial sector

I recognise not everyone is a Local Government Anorak. The day before the Budget the Treasury Department released a report ‘Operation Efficiency Programme – Final Report’ view it here.

It is clear whoever wins the General Election next year, the Government will get in!

Local Government is set to face hardship it has probably not had to face in over a generation. I know Council workers will ask what they have done to deserve this doomsday scenario of council services. The answer is nothing. In Barnet Council staff have delivered almost £60 million in savings and delivered a Four Star service.

What can’t happen is that Council Services across the UK are decimated in a crude attempt to offset £billions of debt bailing out the financial sector.

The role of the trade unions, staff and residents will be key to how council/public services are delivered in Barnet.

Make sure you make time to attend the rally at the Future Shape Cabinet Meeting on Monday 6 July 2009

Barnet Community Campaign – Sheltered Housing

Today I took part in a local march to save the sheltered wardens service organised by Barnet Community Campaign. 

It is only when you are taking part in local democracy that you realise how fortunate that we are living in a country where it is still ok to express your opinions in public (although the recent G20 demonstrations and the actions of the police to some of the demonstrators have shown that we must not be complacent). Democracy in this country was something that was fought for a long time ago. Lives were lost for us to be able to enjoy these freedoms, which makes it all the more important that we scrutinise decisions made by politicians both locally in our town halls and the House of Commons.  

This morning I woke up to more tales of sleaze. None of the main political parties can claim their hands are clean. Every time another report comes out of town halls and parliament of politicians helping themselves it undermines our democratic process. There needs to be a big clear up if they are going to restore confidence in local democracy. 

Barnet Community Campaign gives hope to those of us who still cling to the believe of local democracy. Take a look at the pictures from the march. These are real people, people who decided they wanted to express their anger at the decision to remove sheltered housing services in Barnet. People find it incredible that services for those of the most vulnerable can be cut when the government spend billions of pounds propping up corrupt financial system. A system which encouraged greed, indeed glorified in the bonuses, almost rubbing our noses in it, whilst the rest of us had to cope.  

Now we are being told that someone must pay.

 “Guess what?” It will be US to pay. Yes council workers who seen hundreds of colleagues made redundant, no pay increases, increased workload, annual restructures and still delivered in Barnet we delivered nearly £60 million in savings and managed to improve services! 

BUT, it is not enough. Most people will not know that the predicted budget forecast for council finances for the next four years is going to be worse than anything we have seen in nearly 20 years. 

So, take a good look at the pictures

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28819825@N02/

 

 

Support the campaign attend the lobby of the Council Cabinet Committee on 8 June

 

Future Shape – Newcastle Story…

Members will have heard about the Newcastle story. It is a real life story of staff, managers, elected members and residents coming together to design & deliver first class services and deliver efficiencies.  

Here are two links to national papers out today

Read in Guardian Today

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/05/public-spending-newcastle

Read in the Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/hilary-wainwright-key-to-economic-recovery-lies-in-unlocking-workers-creativity-1679023.html

Whilst what is done in one council can never be easily transplanted to another Council, there is still a lot that we can take from Newcastle to help address the financial challenges facing public services in Barnet. What I found key was unlocking the potential of the staff  to help design services for the future. All too often public services will call on the services of the big consultancy companies such as KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Deloittes etc  at a considerable cost.

Tonight I will be going to:

Public Service Reform…but not as we know it!

Debate alternatives to privatisation
18:00 to 19:30, 05 May 2009, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
 
Speakers: Hilary Wainwright (author); Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP, Communities and Local Government Secretary; Jon Cruddas MP; Heather Wakefield of UNISON and Kenny Bell, UNISON

http://www.compassonline.org.uk/events/index.asp?date=27/05/2009&ec=NULL

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