Barnet UNISON welcomes the publication of the Barnet Council’s commissioned Library review.

British Library, Kings Cross.
March to protest about cuts to libraries, museums and the arts.
Barnet Unison were on the march along with striking Barnet library staff.
05/11/16 BP AMS

Barnet UNISON welcomes the publication of the Council’s commissioned Library review.

It is a thorough and detailed body of work and while we are not in total agreement with its findings or recommendations, we commend those who worked on it for its evidence based and independent approach. This included a willingness to engage with UNISON and Library workers.

This is an initial response from Barnet UNISON, focusing on the salient concerns to us a trade union.  Further and more detailed responses will follow as we consult with our members working in Barnet Libraries.

Much of the Review concurs with our warnings to the Council before and since the implementation of the current structure and operation of Barnet Libraries. We have been raising these concerns, which focus on the accessibility and the quality and breath of service since 2014.  However   the Council proceeded on their course and the resulting public dissatisfaction and restriction of access (particularly for children and people with disabilities) are plain to see in the Review’s findings.

Barnet UNISON is glad to see the professionalism and hard work of Library staff, at all levels recognised in the Review but   the continuing achievements of these workers is despite the Library Restructure of 2017 not because of those changes. Barnet Library workers have had to overcome significant challenges, including a reduction in numbers of almost 50%, the loss of public and work space, a disruptive working schedule and having to deal with the often justified but misdirected frustration and anger of the public.

Barnet UNISON fought a long campaign to defend the jobs of Library workers from 2014 to 2017.  This involved considerable effort and self-sacrifice by UNISON members working in Barnet Libraries. This campaign was not only about defending our members but a bid to maintain the quality and availability of libraries for the people who live, work, study and visit in Barnet. But regrettably many library workers lost their jobs in April 2017. In many cases this was a sad and premature end to decades-long careers.  These Library workers were sacrificed to the Council’s belief that their skills, knowledge and experience could be replaced by machines and volunteers

Nearly three years after this loss the   Review has found:

“The reduction in staffed opening hours has gone too far, particularly given the low number of volunteers. The reductions act as a deterrent to many library users from using the library and act as a particular barrier to young people who cannot access the library on their own during SSO hours if they do not meet the minimum age requirements.”

And

 

“The loss of staff and the fact that they move between libraries more makes it harder for users to develop positive relationships that support library use for all ages. This is not a criticism of staff. It is a loss for the community”

To help redress this the Review advises that the Council;

“To increase staffed opening hours by increasing staffing resources in the short to medium term at least until adequate numbers of volunteers can be recruited and the use of volunteers stabilised

UNISON support the increase in staffing resources but on a permanent basis. Even if “adequate numbers of Volunteers” are found they are not suitable replacements for Library staff

The Review also calls on the Council;

“To review the extent of budget reductions and explore the scope for additional investment in the service given the relative decline in the take-up of the service”

While the Council have published no plans for further cuts to the Library Service, the implementation of the Review’s recommendations would require additional funds being allocated to the Service. Attempting to implement the changes described without additional resources will result in further burdens and stress on an already overstretched work force.

 

Barnet UNISON ask the Council;

  • When and how will staffing resources be increased?
  • What additional funds will be allocated to the Library Service?
  • How will the Libraries be made more accessible to the public?
  • What measures will be put in place to more accurately record library usage?

 

Barnet UNISON hope the Review will spur the Council to at least begin to repairing the damage done to Barnet Libraries in 2017. Damage which our Union and others warned the Council would result from their Library strategy.  We call on the Council to truly engage with us and those who know the service best, Library workers, in making our Libraries truly fit for the 21rst Century.

 

Barnet UNISON begins work to seek backdating Pay and Pension for members working in Barnet Council schools.

Earlier this year Barnet UNISON submitted 52 collective grievances on behalf of our members working in 52 Barnet Schools.

What is this about?

It is about the calculation used to ensure that part-time workers are not being discriminated in relation to their pay.

UNISON believes that this contract term is unfair and inherently discriminatory. We believe that this contract term results term time only workers receiving less than their pro-rata leave entitlement compared to their full time equivalent (FTE) colleagues.

UNISON believes that this contract treats part time workers less favourably than full time staff and is therefore discriminatory. We also believe that the approach is potentially discriminatory on sex grounds as the workers affected are overwhelmingly female.

UNISON is seeking a recalculation of the pay and leave of these staff and a payment of back pay of any historical underpayment from their date of appointment.

We would also seek a recalculation of any pension entitlement under the LGPS resulting from any underpayment or understatement of pensionable service.

What are we doing now?

We are now busy arranging meetings in these schools to explain the reason for the claim for backdated pay and a payment for underpayment of their Pension. Only one of the Schools is a Barnet Schools the rest are Academies/Foundation Schools.

We are beginning to lodge our legal claim against the Schools in order to protect our members claims.

What about Barnet Council Schools?

As news spreads about our campaign, our members working in Barnet Council Schools are asking about their claims.

Our members were never informed by Barnet Council that they were being paid incorrectly and that they had a claim for back pay and a payment towards the underpayment of their Pension. Our members are angry to hear they have not been paid correctly and are demanding that Barnet Council pay up.

Today, Barnet UNISON has written to Barnet Council seeking a meeting to discuss our claim on behalf of our members. We are calling on Barnet Council to do the right thing and reach a collective agreement which will address the backdating and the underpayment of the Pension.

This is a massive issue for our members and we are continuing to keep all of our members briefed as to their rights at work.

If you are on a Term Time Pay contract and worried if you are being correctly paid please contact the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

More to follow…….

End.

 

Term Time Pay Drop-in meetings

Barnet UNISON is hosting drop-in sessions for our members working in schools which have Term Time Pay issues.

Drop-in sessions will take place on

  1. Monday 17th February 11- 3pm
  2. Tuesday 18th 11 -3pm
  3. Thursday 20th February from 11- 3

Drop-in sessions are held at the Barnet UNISON office, Barnet House, 1255 High Road, Whetstone, London N20 0EJ

Members please note you will need the following information.

Your monthly take home pay figures, payroll number which is on your pay slip, your membership number.

End.

Local Barnet Rabbi to speak at Barnet UNISON AGM

“We are in the process of enormous catastrophic breakdown and if takes an arrest to try to find ways of helping to galvanise public opinion then it certainly worth being arrested.” (Rabbi Jeffrey Newman 14th October 2019.)

Rabbi Jeffrey Newman is guest speaker at Barnet UNISON AGM on Tuesday 25 February 2020 at 4pm Barnet House. All member welcome.

https://youtu.be/Ski8LcjvwVo

Barnet Libraries Review : Barnet UNISON

British Library, Kings Cross.
March to protest about cuts to libraries, museums and the arts.
Barnet Unison were on the march along with striking Barnet library staff.
05/11/16 BP
AMS

Barnet Council have commissioned “an independent evaluation of recent changes to the library service and to make some recommendations for the future.” (https://www.barnet.gov.uk/libraries-0)

The Company undertaking the review have asked Barnet UNISON and a sample of Library staff for their views.  We welcome this engagement with Library workers.

We hope that the review will be fair and evidence based, and that the Council have made the necessary information and evidence available to the reviewing organisation.  This must include comparable statistics on the use of libraries in staffed and unstaffed hours and include the four Libraries outsourced in 2017.

The findings of the review should be published in March and Barnet UNISON will make a full response at that time.

End.

Save our Catering workers

We the undersigned, wish to add our support for Barnet UNISON’s request to the Barnet Council Chief Executive to bring the ISS Catering workers based in the Atrium in North London Business Park (NLBP) back in-house in order they can run a Council owned staff café in the new £55 million Colindale Office.

 

Sign petition here http://chng.it/gNCjP62Q

 

***** Please note there is currently no staff cafe facility in the new Colindale office building.

 

Background:

On 1 April 2016 Barnet Council outsourced their Catering Service to Cambridge Education who are a subsidiary of global giant Mott MacDonald.

Barnet UNISON reached an agreement with Barnet Council that ensured the contract included a provision that no staff could be employed on less than the London Living Wage (LLW).

Cambridge Education sub-contracted the Catering service to another global giant ISS who employed all the Catering workers.

However, Barnet UNISON and the Atrium Catering workers were unaware that the contract between ISS and Cambridge Education did not include the provision of a staff café in the soon to be built £55 million Council Office in Colindale.

In December 2019 Barnet Council informed Barnet UNISON that they had failed to secure an alternative provider to deliver a staff café in Colindale office.

On Monday 27 January 2020 ISS began redundancy one to one meetings for their staff working in the staff canteen in NLBP.

On 1 April 2020 the LLW changes from £10.55 (for a 36 hour week the annual salary would be £19,979) to £10.75 an hour.

*** In the likely event that our proposal is not implemented and the redundancies are carried out, Barnet UNISON is calling on all council staff to try and visit the staff canteen in NLBP on Friday 27 March 2020 between 12 and 1.30 pm for a Solidarity and Thank you meal with our ISS catering workers.

 

17 Level 3 TAs face the sack in one Barnet School

I was not looking forward to this consultation meeting. The look of devastation on the faces of mainly low paid female workers was for all to see.

Each worker spoke with passion about the work they do and what they felt was betrayal for all the hard work they have put into the school for years.

I was able to sit and listen to them tell me about what they do. It was clear they cared deeply about the children they support. They expressed disbelief that the restructure proposals will even work.

I left the meeting not deflated but recharged with energy to try to do as much as I can for them.

This is my second redundancy meeting in a week and it’s hitting low paid workers again.

If this week is an indicator of life for workers under Boris Johnson then we should all be worried

More later….

 

It’s Your Wages. This is what we are doing.

On Wednesday 15th January 2020 UNISON lodged collective grievances against 52 Barnet Schools to ensure we protect claims on behalf of all of over 500 UNISON members working in those schools.

Three things that need to be done for YOU.

  1. The way your employer calculates YOUR Pay needs to be changed in order that you are paid correctly.
  2. You have been underpaid for years. These are your wages that you have worked for and it is your right that your employer should pay you correctly.
  3. If you are in the Pension Scheme your Pension is wrong and you need to be compensated.

IMPORTANT ADVICE:

Barnet UNISON has an organiser called Nadia who will be contacting you to set up a meeting to explain what happens next.

If you want to speak to Nadia please contact the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Term Time Pay Update Meeting

On Tuesday 25 February 2020 5.15 pm, Barnet House, 1255 High Road, Whetstone N20 0EJ after the Barnet UNISON Annual General Meeting there will be an update for all of our members on the claim.

Please come along.

Poverty Pay For Barnet Care Workers set to continue…………

Monday 6th January 2020 should have brought good news for ex Fremantle care workers now employed by The Barnet Group (TBG).

Barnet UNISON had expected to hear that care workers would be moved onto the London Living Wage at Policy and Resources Committee on Monday 6th January 2020

https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=692&MId=10084

Instead the decision was kicked into the long grass.

This decision has ensured care workers remain on poverty pay.

TUPE information from Fremantle in May/ June 2019 revealed that just under 300 staff were TUPE transferred.

Of these, according to the figures given for the job titles and the rates of pay quoted for those job titles, some two thirds were listed as being paid below the London Living Wage.

Care work is a physically demanding role as well as an emotionally demanding role.

There are at least 201 Care workers on poverty pay

Yet according to the TUPE transfer information

161 members of staff are aged 55 years and over.

40 are aged 66 years and over.

Notes for Editors:

TBG is 100% owned by Barnet Council.

Barnet Council does not employ any staff paid less than the London Living Wage.

Merry Christmas? Not a chance! Redundancies on the horizon

The last big outsourcing took place in April 2016.

Education and Catering Services were outsourced to Mott MacDonald who transferred the services to Cambridge Education. Cambridge Education sub-contracted Catering Services to global giant ISS.

At the time of the award of the contract it was very clear that the Council was moving all of its staff, who would need a café based inside, to the new £50 plus million building in Colindale.

What happened next is yet another example of how you lose all control by outsourcing.

For some reason Barnet Council said it did not want the same service it had in the Atrium and wanted to hand it over to a franchise……Costa Coffee. ISS was to sort out the franchise and run a Costa Coffee inside the new Colindale office.

Who or why this was agreed we don’t know – it’s important to note there are loads of Costa Coffee shops around Colindale.

All our members were told by ISS that they would receive Costa Coffee training in readiness for the move to Colindale in June 2019.

That’s right, June 2019.

Then it all went quiet, staff started moving and the ‘white elephant’ – the lack of a café – became more apparent as the building started to fill up.

‘It would all be ready after the summer.’

No, it wasn’t, and the news was worse.

ISS was not going to provide a service.

Barnet UNISON said “let’s run an in-house service”. 

We were ignored.

Barnet Council went out to find a contractor to run a café in the Colindale office.

Bad news for our members

Barnet Council has failed to secure a contractor to run a café in Colindale office. We have been told that the Council is going back out to see if it can secure a contractor but time is running out. The Atrium service will close March 2020. This will give very little time to find another employer and then TUPE transfer staff to the new employer.

Yesterday Barnet UNISON had the unpleasant task of speaking to all of our members in the Atrium café in North London Business Park (also known as the staff canteen) to alert them to the very real risk of redundancy due to this news.

Outsourcing v In-House

Outsourcing has failed our low paid members and it has failed the staff who work in Colindale. The importance of a staff canteen is that it provides a space away from your desk to de-stress and meet up with work colleagues. It’s a space that helps promote mental health and wellbeing.

Barnet UNISON has formally written to Cambridge Education to hold ISS to the contract and ask them to provide a café service in NLBP.

What we do know is that if Catering had remained in-house there would already be a café in Colindale, just as it was ready when all the staff finally moved to North London Business Park.

Solidarity for our UNISON Atrium members.

More on this later in 2020.

End.

 

 

 

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