Barnet UNISON gives Capita Estates service the Red Card

Last Monday all of the Waste and Recycling service started from Oakleigh depot. Due to a serious strategic mistake Barnet Council sold off their own depot which was based in the centre of the borough (Mill Hill) before they had secured an alternative.

As a result a small depot was built in Oakleigh Road South (east of the borough). This depot was not big enough which meant that Barnet Council had go to cap in hand to Harrow Council to pay to base some of their services from their depot.

Workers couldn’t believe it. They shook their heads in disbelief but then just got on with the job.

The costs of operating out of the depot have become a burden that can no longer be sustained and Barnet UNISON welcomes the attempt to re-unite what was previously united.

Barnet Council is now using the former Brogans depot for the extra vehicles.

Why the red card?

Early in September Barnet UNISON reported that the lighting was not working in the depot. It seems to take forever to get things fixed in the depot. This is not a criticism of the operational management as the estate service is run by Capita.

As the date of the move back from Harrow drew close Barnet UNISON again pressed for the lighting to be fixed. The extra vehicles increased our anxiety of the risk to the health and safety of our members.

It is important to remember that the existing site is about to become a building site as urgent engineer works are about to start to stop the depot sliding down the hill into Oakleigh Road South. This means the traffic management is under increased pressure.

On Monday 4 November I was sent pictures by our members to confirm that lighting was not on. It was predictable but UNISON hoped that this time things might change.

Day after day UNISON was contacted all week, five days in a row lighting problems down the depot.

Red Card

On Friday UNISON spoke with operational management to say that this could not continue and that measures must be put in place to secure the health and safety of the depot.

Barnet UNISON has attended the Committee meetings where the Capita contract was reviewed. For a short period the Estate function was down to come back in-house. However, in December 2018 Barnet Council once again let Capita off the hook.

Barnet UNISON is demanding the Estate service is brought back in-house our staff health and safety must not be compromised.

More later…….

Good News: Street Scene service moving out of Harrow depot

Barnet UNISON will never understand how a major strategic decision like moving the Council depot was made without a viable option was available to the Council frontline services.

What happened was a classic fudge/ad hoc/make do. To put it simply it has been a disaster.

The Waste and Recycling and Street Cleansing services were split between the new depot in Oakleigh Road South and London Borough of Harrow depot.

Not only was it bad operationally it was expensive and the ongoing costs have been a constant strain on the service.

The Gritting service was also moved to Harrow and we all know what happened when we had a bad winter two years ago despite the heroic efforts of the workforce to try and make it work.

It was never going to work. The staff across all services have tried their best to make it work. The fact that staffing budgets were also cut simply added to the problem. .

What didn’t help and still doesn’t help is seeing that the Capita contracts have cashed in to the tune of £438 million since the contract started which is £165.6 million more than the contract value. Try explaining that to workers whose pay or pensions has been messed up by Capita or to the staff working at Oakleigh who have seen their branch new depot splitting like it has been hit by a minor earth quake.

What is the good news?

The good news is that the Brogans site which has been empty for a long time has been secured by Barnet Council.

This means the whole of the Waste and Recycling service is now running out of Oakleigh Depot. However we are still running Street Cleansing out of Harrow which means we are still paying rent on the Harrow site and now the Brogans site.

Depot Building works

The depot has some serious problems the subsidence has split the road and there appears to be real risk of a landslide which is something that has happened in the past. This risk was clearly sufficiently serious for the Council to arrange for buildings works to begin sometime in November this year.

Rounds changes.

As a result of the major building works at the depot there is an impact on the Bin collection service. Barnet Council has written to residents about the changes.

It is disappointing that the changes had not been run by the drivers. This mistake was made with the previous Bin collection changes.

There is nothing we can do now.

It remains to be seen if the proposed changes will work.

“Already over worked and underpaid, would you work for free?

It’s hard to believe but Barnet UNISON has discovered that in some cases some of our members working in Barnet Academies are losing as much as 2, 3, or 4 weeks’ pay a year.

Barnet UNISON opposed the formation of Academies as we understood this was a backdoor privatisation of schools. At the time the branch was waging a long term campaign against the mass outsourcing One Barnet Programme which, amongst other things, brought #Capita to Barnet.

As secondary schools converted to academies they were very careful to present the privatisation of their School as different to that of other Council services. Familiar statements were made to staff that nothing would change, no one would notice any changes……

Unfortunately it appears that things have changed and not for the good.

Our schools staff members are often on part time and term time contracts. They often work a lot more hours than they get paid for. Goodwill is given because our members are committed to helping the pupils experience a good education.

However:

  • Our members must pay bills.
  • Our members need to feed their families just like anyone else.
  • Our members can definitely NOT afford to be working for FREE.

This is why Barnet UNISON has written to all of our members working across the Barnet Academies to urgently complete the paperwork about their pay and send it back to the Barnet UNISON office in the business reply envelope provided.

If you have not received any paperwork from Barnet UNISON please contact the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

You can download the form we need back from our members by clicking the link below.

Barnet Schools Newsletter Autumn 2019 Final

Barnet Council: The London and the Barnet Living Wage story continues……..

Barnet UNISON has launched a campaign for the London Living Wage for care workers who were recently transferred from Fremantle Trust to The Barnet Group (TBG). TBG is 100% owned by Barnet Council.

What does Barnet Council have to say on the matter?

Barnet Living Wage

3.15. The Council has developed a fair pay policy to ensure that it applies a minimum wage for Council employees. “London Borough of Barnet is a fair pay employer and will apply the principles of a living wage (including taking into account the National Minimum Wage, National Living Wage, London Living Wage and national pay awards in the public sector), subject to affordability.”

3.16. Employees whose pay rate is less than the agreed amount will receive a pay supplement to bring their pay up to an equivalent of the published Barnet Living Wage rate. The minimum rate will be reviewed on an annual basis. The exception to this rule will be apprenticeships where the national apprenticeship rates will apply at a minimum.

(Source: https://bit.ly/2BEKVx4 )

Negotiations

Several years ago Barnet UNISON reached an agreement with Barnet Council that no Council employee would earn less than the London Living Wage (LLW). However the agreement refers to the Barnet Living Wage (BLW) as Barnet Council wanted to make a point of paying slightly more than the London Living Wage.

In 2018 the London Living Wage was £10.20 and the Barnet Living Wage was £10.42.

In 2019 the London Living Wage was £10.55 and the Barnet Living Wage is £10.70 (Bottom of Grade A).

Not enough

Whilst this was a good agreement for our members working for Barnet Council workers it did not provide security for those workers facing outsourcing under the One Barnet Programme. This led to further negotiations and subsequent agreement with Barnet Council that any contractor taking over any Council services could not pay their staff less that the London Living Wage. The effect of this agreement was apparent when our catering staff members were transferred to ISS. Earlier this year our members contacted Barnet UNISON when their pay did not go up to the new rate. Our branch immediately contacted both ISS and the Council which led to an immediate climb down and our members were put on the correct pay.

What about other outsourced contracts?

Our branch had been trying to get our cleaners on to the LLW for years. These had been outsourced 15 years ago. Earlier this year we were pleased to inform our cleaners in UNISON that the Council had inserted the LLW into the new contract which was awarded early in the year. At last our cleaners are on the LLW.

Barnet care workers.

During the summer almost 300 care staff transferred from Fremantle Trust to The Barnet Group (TBG). TBG is 100% owned by Barnet Council.

Three weeks ago Barnet UNISON launched its latest campaign for the London Living Wage for the care workers.

On Tuesday 10 December at Barnet Council Policy and Resources Committee will make a decision whether to ensure Barnet care workers will get equal treatment and are paid the London Living Wage.

We are asking for a big solidarity call out for our care workers from Barnet UNISON members, trade union members, and supporters.

Join us outside Hendon Town Hall from 6.30 Tuesday 10 December 2019.

 

End.

Barnet Council is to debate “Support London’s Living Wage for Care Workers”

Council meeting: 29 October 2019

Motion: Cllr Barry Rawlings

Support London’s Living Wage for Care Workers

Council believes that care workers provide the most crucial services to our elderly and disabled residents, and they deserve to be paid a living wage. Council notes that the former Fremantle care workers that have been transferred to the Barnet Group are being paid less than the London Living Wage which is currently £10.55 per hour. The London Living Wage has been identified as the minimum rate of pay that workers in the Capital need to cover the cost of living essentials. The Barnet Group policy is to pay all its workers at least the London Living Wage. Council welcomes the commitment for a feasibility report into the issue to be brought back to the next meeting of Policy & Resources Committee. Council calls on Policy & Resources Committee to ensure all Barnet Group employees are paid at least London’s Living Wage.

Under Full Council Procedure Rule 17.17: if my item is not dealt with by the end of the meeting, I ask that it be voted upon at the Council me

(Source: https://bit.ly/2Bw5w6z )

IMPORTANT NURSERY SCHOOLS Update from Barnet UNISON

Two joint trade union meetings have been agreed for members to discuss school budget cuts and the possible impact on members and the schools.

Tuesday 29th October at St Margaret’s at 4 pm

Thursday 31st October at Moss Hall at 4 pm

Please try to come along to one or both of the meetings

If you need advice please ring the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

 

BREAKING NEWS: Barnet Homes announce termination of outsourced Mears Housing repairs service and domestic gas service

BREAKING NEWS: Barnet Homes announce termination of outsourced Mears Housing repairs service and bring back domestic gas service

The following announcement was made to all Barnet Homes staff on Wednesday, 9 October 2019

“From 1 April 2020, the Barnet Homes repairs service, currently provided by contractors Mears, will be brought in-house. This means that Barnet Homes will be responsible for repairs in tenants’ homes, refurbishing void properties and repairs to communal parts on our estates.

The domestic gas service will continue to be managed by Mears until 1 October 2020, when it will also be transferred into Barnet Homes and run as an in-house service.”

“This is fantastic news. Housing repairs was one of the first contracts to be outsourced by Barnet Homes. Housing repairs is a critical service and should not have ever been outsourced. Housing repairs was originally delivered by Barnet Council (and should return back there) after which it was first outsourced to Barnet Homes then sold off to Connaughts which became bankrupt. The service was handed on to Lovells and finally to Mears. Looking after council tenants needs to be under the direct control of the Council. This is a welcome first step to that end. The role of Council Housing needs to be seen just as important as Family Services in addressing the brutality of child poverty. All Councils must learn lessons from Grenfell and accept Housing is a human right and as such should be provided directly by the Council.” John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.

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