Barnet Council agree extreme weather measures with Barnet UNISON

Barnet UNISON is pleased to announce that Barnet Council have positively responded to the potential serious risks to the health of their manual workforce who work outdoors.

The Met Office has announced an extreme heat weather warning which could see temperatures reaching 40C. Whilst other mitigation measures are in place for the workforce such as early starts; access to water; these extreme temperatures warranted an urgent review with the employer.

Barnet UNISON began a dialogue this Wednesday with Street Scene operational management and senior officers at Barnet Council in order to look at what other measures could be put in place e.g. such as stopping all but emergency work from a specified time in the day with no reduction to pay.

Today it has been confirmed that all work will stop before 12 noon on both days with no loss in pay.

Background:

Amber warning of extreme heat

https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/warnings/weather

Areas affected: East Midlands | East of England | London & South East England | North East England | North West England | South West England | Wales | West Midlands | Yorkshire & Humber

Starts: 00:00 BST on Sun 17 JulyEnds: 23:59 BST on Tue 19 July

A hot spell is likely to develop from Sunday, likely peaking early next week, leading to widespread impacts on people and infrastructure.

– Population-wide adverse health effects are likely to be experienced, not limited to those most vulnerable to extreme heat, leading to potential serious illness or danger to life. Government advice is that 999 services should be used in emergencies only; seek advice from 111 if you need non-emergency health advice

– Substantial changes in working practices and daily routines likely to be required

– Significantly more people are likely to visit coastal areas, lakes and rivers leading to increased risk of water safety incidents

– Delays on roads and road closures are possible, along with delays and cancellations to rail and air travel, with potential for significant welfare issues for those who experience even moderate delays

Barnet UNISON begins two indicative strike ballots.

Barnet UNISON attended a JNCC meeting with The Barnet Group on Wednesday 7 July 2022.

We submitted a full list of agenda items and made clear that if a resolution was not agreed at the meeting, we would have to register a trade dispute. A number of interventions took place before the meeting in order to try and avoid these disputes, but they were unsuccessful.

As of Thursday 14 July 2022, Barnet UNISON has begun two indicative strike ballots of two sets of workers:

·       Council Housing repairs workers

·       Outreach Barnet workers

If the ballots are in favour of strike action Barnet UNISON will approach UNISON London Region to begin the official strike ballot.

In the meantime, the door remains open for the employer to reach a resolution with Barnet UNISON that our members would accept.

Please see the list of the trade disputes

1. Repairs

We noted the intention of paying sick pay to all workers in repairs by giving them the opportunity to transition to a new contract 1st August. We noted this intention had been signalled in talks with the trade unions since last Autumn. A colleague is currently off sick following an accident at work and in spite of there being light duties he could have done, he was sent home with no sick pay as per his contract. We noted the offer of a loan as a remedy but highlight the difficulty in low paid workers being able to pay back any loans. As we are so close to these colleagues being on the new contract we were looking for a resolution which would put money into this worker’s account to relieve his difficulty. As a new starter this worker would have had access to sick pay. The treatment he has had does not recognise his dedication to his job, residents and other colleagues. He worked throughout the pandemic.

We discussed bringing his contract offer forward. We discussed the possibility of making a payment in any other way. We failed to agree a way forward.

Dispute: failure to agree adequate support an employee during their sickness.

2. Outreach Barnet

We noted discrepancy in pay between new starters and staff who were TUPE transferred across in 2019. New starters are paid significantly higher (around 10% higher) than the TUPE’d staff. We noted that the message this gives longstanding staff is that they are worth less than the new starters and also noted that if all of them resigned from their role then they would have to be hired at the new rate of pay. TBG is undertaking an exercise to re-evaluate the roles of the TUPE’d staff but this work may only be completed by the end of July. At the time of the Emergency JNCC we did not receive a commitment to backdate any such re-evaluation to 1st July (the date the new starters begin).

Dispute: failure to agree to aligning the wages of workers in Outreach Barnet with a backdate to 1st July.

3. COVID payments

We noted LBB has not changed its arrangements around COVID. With the exception of care home staff all other staff in TBG have been told effectively COVID  is a sickness like any other and will be treated as such in relation to sick pay and absence management monitoring. We note TBG is not saying there is currently a significant problem with COVID absence. We note the rise in COVID infections generally and the prevalence of Long COVID which is now recognised as a disability. We were not able to secure a commitment to simply follow LBB policy in this regard.

Dispute: failure to agree to revert back to the sick pay and other associated arrangements with respect of the management of COVID in existence prior to July 1st.

4. Payment for Home Testing

We note the home testing and registering for COVID regime to which residential care workers are subject. We are looking for this to be recognised as work time (much the same way as workers who have to take out a vehicle for work purposes and do their vehicle checks and are paid as work time). We have suggested this would total the equivalent of 2.5hrs per week, per worker. This has not been agreed.

Dispute: failure to agree to recognise and remunerate COVID testing for workers in care homes.

End.

Out of Touch Barnet for Outreach Barnet Workers!

Equal pay for Equal work?  Does that sound reasonable?

Barnet Council’s Local Authority Trading Company, The Barnet Group, doesn’t think so……

New starters with Barnet Outreach carrying out the same role as TUPE transferred workers are now being appointed on considerably higher wages than the TUPE transferred staff. The Barnet Group initially ignored this equality issue and only because these workers joined UNISON have their concerns been taken seriously, but not seriously enough.

These loyal frontline keyworkers who were lauded for their support of the most vulnerable during the COVID Pandemic are being treated as second class Public Servants by The Barnet Group and Barnet Council.

In 2019 Homeless Action in Barnet and Genesis Housing workers who were providing outreach services to vulnerable clients on behalf of Barnet Council were told by their respective employers that they were being TUPE transferred into The Barnet Group, a Local Authority Trading Company fully owned by Barnet Council.

Since then, the Outreach Services have gone from strength to strength and expanded the services they offer. They have won praise and accolades from clients, The Barnet Group and the Council for the amazing work they do with the most vulnerable in our Barnet Community.

With the cost of living crisis and inflation soaring these workers are struggling to be able to afford to come to work. They need a resolution now.

Barnet UNISON’s demand for these TUPE transferred workers is simple:

  • Pay ex-Homeless Action Barnet and Genesis Housing workers who are now employed by The Barnet Group the same salary as new starters doing the same job as them in The Barnet Group.

So far, this reasonable demand has fallen on deaf ears in both The Barnet Group and in Barnet Council – which has meant that these workers have been left with no option other than to register this as ‘a failure to agree’ with The Barnet Group.

Equal pay for Equal work.

Simple really, isn’t it?

Unless you work for The Barnet Group….

“Talk is cheap, if Barnet Homes truly respect and value equality, they do the talk, they should walk the walk. All we are asking for is respect and fairness. It is not too much to ask.” (Barnet Outreach worker)

“How can it be that loyalty is punished in this way? If all of these workers resigned now from their job, a new starter would be on the better pay rates. Is this seriously the right message to put to workers? Are these the “values” Barnet Council chooses to defend? The solution is very easy. Commit to paying these workers what you know you would have to pay any new starter from 1st July.” (Patrick Hunter, Barnet UNISON Barnet Homes Convenor)

 

End.

Note to Editors: Contact details: Helen Davies Barnet UNISON on or 020 8359 2088 or email: contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Barnet Council’s Company Refuse to Show Compassion for Injured Worker

Injured at work, take paid time off to repair the damage?  Does that sound reasonable?

Barnet Council’s Local Authority Trading Company, The Barnet Group, doesn’t think so……

Council Housing repairs service once directly employed by Barnet Council TUPE transferred into Barnet Homes at its inception then TUPE transferred into Lovells, then TUPE transferred into Connaught, then TUPE transferred into Mears and then TUPE transferred back into Barnet Homes which is part of The Barnet Group, Barnet Council’s Local Authority Trading Company – sound confusing?

Imagine being part of the workforce and the effect of continual ‘new employers’ who attack your Terms and Conditions relentlessly to the point where you no longer have sick pay should you become ill or injure yourself working for the people of Barnet.

Mejdi’s story

Mejdi is one of those TUPE transferred workers from Mears. Like his colleagues he worked throughout the pandemic. He was injured while working for The Barnet Group and was unable to take sufficient time off to rest and recuperate because he couldn’t afford not to be paid. Unable to mask the injury and continue working he was sent home with no pay. If he had started working for The Barnet Group following the transfer from Mears he would be on the new contract which would mean he would get sick pay. He is effectively being punished for being loyal.

The solution offered by Barnet Council’s Local Authority Trading Company, The Barnet Group? Give Mejdi a loan. How will he pay that back?

This is not a story from Dickens – this is what Barnet Council’s Local Authority Trading Company, the Barnet Group, thinks is a reasonable and fair way to treat their workforce who maintain our Council estates in the 21st Century. We believe this demonstrates a lack of respect for Mejdi and his colleagues.

Mejdi’s colleagues know that could be their fate. Mejdi and his colleagues are Barnet UNISON members. They are now considering strike action as they have no other option.

Barnet UNISON’s demand for these workers is:

  • Pay Mejdi and his colleagues who were TUPE transferred into The Barnet Group sick pay.

Simple really, isn’t it?

Unless you work for The Barnet Group….

“Disgusting how he’s being treated when he’s worked through COVID.”

(A Barnet Repairs worker)

“The Barnet Group is being pedantic to the point of cruelty. This is not a big sum of money and most Chief Executives could pay this guy out of his back pocket! Small change to some means being able to survive without the terror of debt and the inability to repay debt. It’s embarrassing to have to take this to the public arena to get a resolution.”

(Helen Davies, Branch Chair Barnet UNISON)

End.

Note to Editors: Contact details: Helen Davies Barnet UNISON on or 020 8359 2088 or email: contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Background:

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking News: Capita contracts update in easyCouncil Barnet

Good news

One of the Capita contracts a joint venture known as Re is to come to an end next year.

The following services will be returning in-house 2023:

•         Highways

•         Regeneration

•         Regulatory Services

•         Planning (Development Control)

•         Land Charges

•         Building Control

•         Cemetery and Crematorium

Not so good news: Barnet Council have agreed a fudge to second contract.

Capita will continue to deliver the following services until March 2026

Information Technology (IT)

Revenues and Benefits

Customer Services

Capita will continue to deliver the following services until 31 August 2024

·       Finance*

·       Human Resources*

* (elements of these services returned to the Council in 2019)

The following services will be returning in-house

·       Procurement & Welfare Team will return in Autumn 2022.

·       Estates (including Print) in 2023

You can read all the Council Committee reports online here https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=692&MId=11225

“It is good news that Barnet Council has accepted that outsourcing Regulatory Services was never going to make money and that it must be delivered in-house. Whilst I am happy for the current staff, I can’t help but reflect on the wasted resources poured into the One Barnet Programme; millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money was spent on consultants who took the money and ran. As for the CSG contract I think the Council has missed an opportunity to take back control of the Council. Many other Councils have managed the transition back in-house when a 10-year contract expires, look at West Sussex, Southampton all of whom had contracts with Capita. As of 17 June 2022, Capita have been paid £590 million to deliver services for Barnet Council which is £229 million more than Barnet Council had agreed to pay Capita for the two contracts with still another year left of the two 10-year contracts.” John Burgess, Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON.

End.

Cost of Living Crisis Claim Update 6 July 6-7 pm

UNISON NEC members, Unison Central, London UK

Guest Speaker: Andrea Egan UNISON President

Wednesday 6 July 6- 7pm

To join click on link below

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81186125559?pwd=T3JpL1JWNTcvRkdyUEVrSEQ5dHR6QT09

Meeting ID: 811 8612 5559

Passcode: 850826

 

Breaking News: Barnet UNISON submits Cost of Living Crisis claim to Barnet Council contractors

The following communications has been sent by Barnet UNISON to the following contractors who deliver services on behalf of Barnet Council.

  • Capita
  • ISS
  • BELS
  • Blue 9 Security
  • The Barnet Group
  • Norse cleaning
  • Nsl

 

Dear Contractor

On Monday 6 June 2022, Barnet UNISON, GMB and NEU submitted a Joint Trade Union Cost of Living Crisis claim to Barnet Council on behalf of all our members.

In the space of a week, we now some Petrol pump prices have reached £2 per litre with no sign that this will stop at this price.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/london-s-most-expensive-petrol-prices-cheapest-pump-prices-reach-ps2-capital-b1005124.html

I am submitting the same emergency Cost of Living Crisis claim to your organisation on behalf of UNISON and GMB members.

We are submitting the same claim to all contractors commissioned by Barnet Council to deliver services.

For the purposes of transparency, we are copying in the Chief Executive of Barnet Council.

Introduction:

National Pay Bargaining has failed to deliver meaningful improvements in pay for many of our members. Our members have endured a decade of pay freezes and below average pay awards which has seen our members lose on average 27.5% from the value of their pay since 2010.

Whilst we wait for the national pay negotiations to reach an outcome our members are facing the fastest fall in living standards since the 1950s. Inflation is forecast to peak at over 10% this year, the sharp rise in the cost of living is hitting our members hard. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has warned economic conditions are now unlikely to return to pre-Covid levels until at least 2024.

The UK’s biggest supermarket chain, Tesco, predicts food price inflation will soon hit 5%. The cost of many supermarket staples has increased far more than this already – the average price of pasta increased 41% last year and tinned tomatoes went up 29%.

Within these figures, some costs are rising at an unprecedented rate, such as gas bills at 28.8%, petrol and oil at 21.4%, and electricity bills at 19.2%.

What is of concern for our members is that the support measures offered by the government are not enough.

The Joint Trade Unions welcome the “Cost-of-Living approach: Debt and Financial Vulnerabilities workstream” report going to Policy & Resources Committee on 8 June 2022. (https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s72786/Cost%20of%20Living%20approach%20Debt%20and%20Financial%20Vulnerabilities%20workstream.pdf )

In particular we agree with Recommendation 3 which states notes the urgency of the cost-of-living challenges facing residents”. Some of our lowest paid members live and work in the London Borough of Barnet.

Poorer households are currently experiencing higher inflation – on average – than better-off households

As Trade Unions we recognise that we need to act in the interests of our membership in these unprecedented times which is why we have tabled three proposals to address some of the concerns raised on a daily basis by our members.

  1. Travel to Work payment

The cost of fuel is driving up prices both for car users and for those using public transport.

In terms of public transport costs between 2009 – 21 Bus & coach fares have gone up 88% and Rail fares have gone up 55%.

Petrol and diesel costs are at a historic high. Filling up a tank costs £17 more than just one year ago, but HMRC mileage rates have not been updated since 2011/12.

There are staff, keyworkers, who have no choice but to travel to work. They are not able to work from home. Throughout the COVID pandemic they have had to keep travelling to work and incurring their travel costs at a time when many other workers have saved money because they were able to work from home.

 Barnet UNISON/GMB is asking for a Travel to Work payment to be paid each month.

 

  1. Home Working payment

The COVID Pandemic forced home working on many employers. We now have a hybrid pattern of working where staff are still working from home with occasional days at the office.

Energy prices rose even more sharply from April 2022, when the price cap received an enormous lift and the average bill increased from £1,277 to approximately £2,000 a year.

In terms of some escalating costs which we believe impact on the Home worker, between 2009 – 21 House prices have risen by 53% and Electricity bills by 65%.

The Emergency Cost of Living Crisis has changed things dramatically. The energy bill hikes are putting many of our members under financial insecurity especially in light of further energy bill increases in the Autumn.

It is only fair that the employer should contribute to energy costs for those staff working from home.

Barnet UNISON/GMB is asking for a Home Working payment to be paid each month.

  1. COVID Recognition Payment

Last year the trade unions requested a COVID Recognition payment as a sign of goodwill and recognition that many of the frontline workers had continued to deliver services right through the Pandemic and when the vaccine was not available. Our request was turned down. As previously stated in our Cost-of-Living Crisis proposal many of our lowest paid are under serious financial pressure and they want a payment in recognition of what they did during the height of the COVID pandemic.

 Barnet UNISON/GMB is asking that Barnet Council makes a one-off COVID-19 recognition payment.

 

End.

 

 

National Pay Claim lodged with employers: It’s £2,000 or RPI*

 

UNISON calls for a substantial pay rise of £2K or RPI for all local government & school workers

UNISON, GMB and Unite lodged a pay claim for all council and school workers employed on NJC pay in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Monday 6 June.  The claim calls for a substantial increase of either £2,000 or RPI (whichever is greater) on all spinal column points, from 1 April 2022.

The full claim has been submitted to the Employers’ Side of the NJC.

Click on the link below to read the NJC pay campaign bulleting with more information about the pay claim and how your branch can get involved in campaigning for a decent pay rise.

https://msgfocus.com/files/amf_unison/project_131/We_Need_More_NJC_pay_2022_Bulletin_01.pdf

 

Click on the link below to visit UNISON’s NJC pay campaign webpage ‘We need more’. This webpage will be updated with lots of campaign resources.

https://bit.ly/3x8DU48

*RPI = Retail Price Index

End.

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