Another tragic outsourcing disaster for catering workers in Barnet

Earlier this week our branch was notified by private contractor ISS that they were giving notice to end the Kosher kitchen contract.

This was not a surprise because a number of other schools had already left this contract with ISS earlier this year.

This news is deeply troubling as it feels that the contract is unravelling and those who will be hurt will be the workforce.

When this service was a Council one it was highly successful in generating income to the Council and competing with the private sector.

The workforce was on Barnet Council Terms and Conditions and all had access to the Council Pension Scheme. Moreover, no worker would have been earning less than the London Living Wage.

At the time senior officers responded that nothing would change for staff after they were outsourced but that simply wasn’t true (see the background notes at end of this report).

What actually happened was that some schools started to pull out of the contract with ISS, and sometimes that meant being transferred to yet another contractor some of whom do not pay the London Living Wage and whose Terms and Conditions are appalling in comparison to those of the Council.

Once again it is a mainly female workforce that is being exploited and exposed to the brutality of the race to the bottom agenda of the outsourcing ideology that has blighted so many lives.

I wonder how many schools realise what impact their decisions about Catering are having on this workforce and the families that depend on them.

Schools are education settings promoting opportunities for children to learn and develop, yet at the same time they have responsibilities for the workforce they employ either directly or indirectly through use of contractors. Catering and Cleaning workers are two examples of an exploited workforce, a workforce that is regularly passed from one employer to another. The dehumanising experience of outsourcing and low pay is something which needs to end and it’s something about which Barnet UNISON will not stay silent or allow itself to be gagged.

Background to Catering outsourcing:

The Catering service was outsourced by Barnet Council in 2016.

Barnet UNISON opposed the outsourcing and demanded that:

“The Council should retain the Catering Service in-house and place it within Family Services Delivery Unit in order that all the profits can support frontline services, which are threatened by budget cuts. It should draw up a Public Service Innovation and Improvement Plan for the future of the Catering Service jointly with schools and staff.”

In our report to Councillors we stated:

“The Council is proposing to outsource Education & Skills and Catering services. Yet the Catering Service is a good example of a successful in-house service that has made efficiency improvements and competed with the private sector outside Barnet to win contracts. The Education & Skills and Catering Full Business Case reports an increase in the Catering service annual traded surplus of £241,770, a 3.33% profit, an increase from the 2.67% annual surplus in the Outline Business Case. Furthermore, there is a strong case for all the Education & Skills services to be retained in-house.”

Our report was ignored.

Barnet UNISON was seriously concerned about the impact of outsourcing on this workforce. This is a workforce where:

  • 93% of the total Education & Skills and Catering workforce is female with the Catering Service accounting for an even higher proportion at 96%.
  • 49% of the Catering workforce are Asian and Asian British, Black or Black British or Chinese or other ethnic group compared to 34% white employees based on the available data.

End.

Links:

Global giant ISS restricts rights of former Barnet Council catering workers

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2018/04/26/6089/

“TUPE or not TUPE” that is the stressful question for our outsourced ISS Catering workers

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2019/10/11/tupe-or-not-tupe-that-is-the-stressful-question-for-our-outsourced-iss-catering-workers/

ISS Pay roll changes put low paid workers at risk.

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2019/04/04/iss-pay-roll-changes-put-low-paid-workers-at-risk/

History of the outsourcing of Schools Meals and Education & Skills services

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2015/11/17/history-of-the-outsourcing-of-schools-meals-and-education-skills-services/

BREAKINGNEWS: Mott MacDonald and Barnet Council in contract termination talks

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2020/06/22/breakingnews-mott-macdonald-and-barnet-council-in-contract-termination-talks/

We Are Barnet rally Weds 19 May 2021

 

Support #WeAreBarnet frontline workers by registering to join our second public rally on Weds 19 May 2021 6.30 to 7.30 pm

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/we-are-barnet-campaign-public-rally-19th-may-tickets-152488777037

#WeAreBarnet #EqualityAndJustice

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