Grenfell: “The fight for justice goes on.”

On Monday 14 May 2018, Barnet UNISON continued our pledge made at our AGM to send our banner in solidarity to each Grenfell Silent march which take place on the 14th of each month.

I have been on hundreds of marches but I’ve not attended a silent march before.

It is hard to explain just how powerful it is unless you are there.

Once it begins no one speaks, no mobile phones, the traffic stops, even the birds in the trees seem subdued. I could hear the wind in the trees, it was so quiet I could hear the Barnet UNISON banner poles squeaking.

Half way through the march there is a touching scene where residents shake the hands of the firefighters who are lined up in respect alongside of the march.

I spoke to a number of people and they do welcome the unions providing solidarity.

This collection of campaigns are having to fight tooth and nail for justice.

Whilst they have won a victory to have people on the panel alongside the Judge there is so much to fight for.

Today we heard news that the Government won’t ban combustible cladding.

That is impossible to comprehend after what has happened at #Grenfell.

History tells a story. We know, from #Hillsborough and #Orgreave just how long working class communities have to wait for justice.

#Orgreave are still waiting.

It’s important that trade unions do what trade unions have been doing for over a hundred years. We offer solidarity in whatever form is acceptable.

Barnet UNISON will continue to support #Grenfell residents in order they don’t have to wait 20 years for justice.

The next #Grenfell Silent march is on Thursday 14 June, 6.30.

If you would like to join the Barnet UNISON banner on the march simply contact the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email

For those unable to make the 14 May, there is a protest organised by the Fire Brigades Union on Saturday 16, June, 12 noon assemble outside Downing Street, SW1A 1AA








Barnet Council Street Cleansing workers ballot

For over a decade Barnet Town centres have been cleaned by Barnet Council Street Cleansing Team.

Over that time the workforce has been cut along with the Town Centre keepers.

Last November (2017), the Council voted to cut the street cleansing workforce by 19% and reduce the number of town keepers

In February 2018 overtime for weekend working stopped by senior management without any consultation with staff or the Trade Unions. The reason given was that the overtime budget was overspent. Workers were informed that the overtime would return to normal as of 1 April 2018.

A week later the decision was reviewed and only some hours returned.

As from 1 April 2018, the overtime has not returned as promised. Furthermore, more changes have been imposed on weekend working without discussion with the staff and Trade Unions.

Barnet UNISON fully supports our members and recognises that the established weekend overtime which has been in place for over a decade formed a vital part of our members pay.

The removal of the overtime without meaningful consultation with staff and trade unions is placing unacceptable hardship on an already over-worked and under-resourced workforce.

Barnet UNISON has had a meeting with senior management to discuss overtime for the Street Cleansing workforce. Unfortunately, they have rejected our proposal to restore the weekend overtime.

Barnet UNISON is carrying out an indicative strike ballot which closes Tuesday 29 May 2018.


Barnet UNISON Street Cleansing overtime cut meetings (Feb 2017)

Barnet UNISON speaking against the cuts to Street Cleansing (Nov 2017)






Hey Barnet, don’t cut front line services, the savings are here

Barnet UNISON advises Barnet Tories of savings which will not impact on frontline services and residents.

One of my biggest disappointments during the local government elections has been the complete lack of any discussions with the electorate about the end of local government in 2020.

By that I mean the direct assault on local government funding that was unleashed in 2011 and is set to continue up to 2020. After this there will no longer be enough money for social care never mind all the other council services such as waste and recycling, highways, libraries street cleansing, to name but a few.

It is important to note this is not something only being propagated by Trade Unions; the Leaders in Local Government have been banging on about the growing crisis as each year more austerity brutal budgets are passed and implemented across all public services.

In the absence of a “magical money tree” budget decisions are going to have to be made which will hit “frontline or not frontline services.”

Our offer here will not address the “2020 Armageddon” but it could buy some time for vital public services.

1. Delete all non-essential locum posts

Delete all non-essential locum posts in the Council which could generate several million pound savings immediately.

2. Re-negotiate the current agency contract with Capita.

Re-negotiate the current agency contract with Capita that removes the requirement to pay gain share.

3. Bring Barnet Group back in-house

Look at Barnet Group structure. It is our view that Barnet Group is not fit for purpose – there are too many senior management posts, starting at the top with a chief executive earning around 150k. In the current austerity climate and looming financial Armageddon the financial case for it to continue simply does not stack up.

Services in Barnet Group need to be brought back in-house.

4. Agency/Consultancy spend.

It is matter of fact that this budget has increased from

£7,732,269 million in 2010/11 to £17,980,842 million for 2017/18. #

A thorough audit of spend needs to be conducted in order to reduce the reliance on agency/consultants.

5. Capita contracts – bring them back in-house

It is a matter of fact that Capita has received £335.12 million in payments from Barnet Council. This represents an overpayment of £123.88 million. Due to commercial confidentiality there is no way to assess that this overpayment represents “value for money”.

Barnet UNISON notes that two internal audit reports found significant issues with the Capita contract such as the Pensions administration and Finance. These serious concerns were not identified in the two recent Capita reviews carried out by the client side service. It is our view that Council commences discussions to bring back services in house.

We note in a recent CIPFA article identified:

“Contracts reduce financial flexibility at a time when budget makers need to be fleet of foot: councils and other public bodies can’t afford to be locked into long term, unvarying contractual schemes. The old doctrine of risk transfer now sounds like deceit: the state retains ‘last resort’ responsibility and the reliability of contractors cannot be guaranteed.” 

6. End the Commissioning Service and commence a senior management restructure

The Commissioning service (client side) revenue budget has grown substantially since the mass outsourcing began and is now approximately £35 million a year.

By bringing services in-house the commissioning service becomes obsolete. It would then follow the need for a senior management restructure which would offer up more savings which could be used for frontline services.

In conclusion it is important to re-state that the above proposals would not address the doomsday scenario for local government funding post 2020. The above proposals are an alternative to more cuts being handed out to already fragile frontline services. Any further attempts to cut and or outsource frontline will have a detrimental financial and mental health impact on the workforce and services.

If there is choice to cut frontline services and jobs or cut senior management and non-essential locums then there is only one choice.

Protect frontline services.

John Burgess

Branch Secretary



Why ‘insourcing’ should always be considered, by: David Walker & John Tizard. 26 Apr 18

Year End Supplier Payments – Where All The Money Is Going

Lord Porter: The government must address the growing funding gap facing local services


Ten years of ‘Future Shape’, ‘easyCouncil’, ‘One Barnet’

On Tuesday 6 May 2008, two things happened that changed my life.

The first was my meeting with the Chief Executive Leo Boland and Nick Walkley (later to become Chief Executive) where they informed me about their next project they called ‘Future Shape’.

The second was the Cabinet meeting which met that night and rubber stamped the ‘Future Shape’ proposal.

Click here to view the Cabinet report

It’s been a roller coaster emotionally, mentally and physically the last ten years.

I don’t know how I am still here, but I do know that I am lucky to have an incredible team of office staff and activists all of whom strive hard to do all that they can for our members.

To mark this anniversary since the birth of Future Shape the branch enlisted the services of Dexter Whitfield to write a report on the last ten years.

I am proud to announce that the report was published today Monday 30 April, 2018 at 8 a.m.

As an added bonus, Jeremy Corbyn took time off his busy schedule to come along to meet some of the Barnet campaigners who have been active this last ten years in a very hostile environment of relentless outsourcing and cutting public services.

It is a very detailed report, but there again it had to be because there has been so much going on in our Council.

You can read our Press Release here

Damning report into EasyCouncil, Outsourcing including forward by John McDonnell

Below are three short video messages from Dexter Whitfield on his report.

Dexter Whitfield on campaigning against outsourcing

Dexter Whitfield on outsourcing failures

Dexter Whitfield on true costs of Barnet easyCouncil

Finally  I am proud to see so many UNISON reps across the UK issue the following message:

UNISON reps across the UK call on public bodies to end contracts with Capita


UNISON reps across the UK call on public bodies to end contracts with Capita

We the undersigned call on all public bodies to end contracts with Capita and begin plans to return services in-house.
FACTS reported in the last week from various media outlets
• Capita employs 70,000 staff
• Capita reported a £513.7m pre-tax loss for 2017
• Capita asking investors for £701m in a rights issue that it will use to fund restructuring and toward paying down debts.
• Capita flogs Asset Services division for £888m
• Capita has seen the value of shares collapse from £13 a share to 160p in the past three years.
• Capita confirmed a fully underwritten £701m rights issue at 70p per share. Some £150m will be used to hack overheads with the cost-cutting programme forecast to yield savings of £175m per annum from the end of 2020.
• The London Stock Exchange-listed organ revealed that sales for the calendar year fell 4.3 per cent to £4.2bn, and it made a loss from operations of £420m. A series of write-offs and the cost of disposals meant losses sunk further.
In light of the above headlines and the collapse of Carillion, we believe it is in the public interest and public finance that all public bodies with contracts with Capita act now to bring those services into public ownership.
John Burgess Barnet UNISON rep
Helen Davies Barnet UNISON rep and NEC rep
Chris Jobson Barnet UNISON rep
Liz James Barnet UNISON rep
Patrick Hunter Barnet UNISON rep
Hugh Jordan Barnet UNISON rep
Sandy Nicoll, HE General Seat
James Robinson – deputy secretary of Knowsley unison
Liz Wheatley Camden UNISON Branch Secretary
Alex Tarry London Met UNISON Branch Secretary
Polly Smith Nec (pc) Local government service group Unison rep
Gina Stone Unison, UCLH Branch Secretary
Theresa Rollinson, Unison Doncaster and Bassetlaw, HSGE (pc )
Kath Owen NEC, HE women’s seat.
Stephen Smellie NEC Scotland
Paul Couchman. Branch Secretary, Surrey County LG
Billie Sarah Reynolds Co Deputy Convenor SE Region UNISON LG
George Binette, former Camden UNISON Branch Secretary, Trade Union co-ordinator, Hackney North & Stoke Newington CLP (personal capacity).
Naomi Junnor Steward and vice convenor Fieldwork stewards, Glasgow City Branch
Florence Hill retired Unison member Bolton
Luisete Bento Batista NEC Manchester
Tony Wilson UNISON NEC North West.
Helen Astley, Chair of the Herefordshire Local Government UNISON Branch, LGSGE member – West Midlands Region and TULO – Hereford and South Herefordshire CLP.
Vicky Perrin Unison NEC Yorkshire & Humberside
Angela Ruth Waller Local Government Service Group Executive Yorkshire and Humberside Female Seat (pc)
Gem Dean Gemma dean, branch secretary Herefordshire health unison branch
Andrew Berry, UNISON National Labour Link Committee, London Rep.
Jane Doolan NEC LG seat , SGE and Branch Secretary Islington LG Branch
Berny Parkes: Co-Chair Dorset County Branch Unison; Secretary South Dorset CLP (PC)
Arthur Nicoll Comms Officer, Dundee City Unison and Scottish LG Committee.
John Walker, Equalities Officer, Herefordshire Health Unison
Jim McFarlane, Branch Secretary Dundee City UNISON and NEC member (pc)
Sean Fox NEC Greater London &Haringey UNISON Joint Branch Secretary
Declan Clune Secretary Southampton and South West Hampshire Trades Union
Paul Rafferty, Chair, UNISON AQA Branch (pc).
Janet Bryan UNISON NEC
Dan Hoggan Greenwich Unite Local Government Branch
Roger Lewis Please add Roger Lewis, assistant branch secretary, Lambeth unison, PC
Paul Gilroy UNISON NEC
Karen Reissmann UNISON NEC
Jordan Rivera SGE candidate Health Greater London
Janet Maiden SGE Health
Phoebe Watkins Camden Branch Co Chair
Lorna Solomon UNISON Homerton Hospital Branch Secretary
John McLoughlin UNISON SGE rep
Tony Phillips UNISON Branch Secretary LFEPA
Glen Williams, Branch Secretary, Sefton UNISON, Local Government.
Shazziah Rock UNISON Sandwell General Branch
David Hughes Local Government SGE
Sarah Littlewood Deputy Branch Secretary Hull LG Branch.
Lisa Dempster Deputy chair Knowsley Branch
Steve Kearsley Unison Rep Halton BC Branch.
Sarah Pickett Labour Link Officer University of Brighton Branch.
Dave Anderson, former Hampshire LG UNISON
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