What does it say about our society when 93 care workers are sacked and barely a mention is made in the media or by politicians?
This week consultation closed on the decision to sack 93 care workers.
Barnet UNISON has submitted our report into the shocking sacking of 93 care workers in what has been a shameful consultation.
To understand our anger and sadness at what has happened I encourage readers to read our report which is online here or Barnet UNISON Response to Apthorp Consultation 22.10.21 FINAL
“Throughout the negotiation it emerged that the decision to vacate Apthorp had been taken by Barnet Council with no consultation with any other stakeholder other than Your Choice Barnet (YCB). The rationale for this has been stated over and over but the information underpinning this decision has been withheld. This has limited the trade union engagement to one of simply negotiating the redundancies rather than avoiding them. Consequently we have unanswered questions and we dispute the view that this discussion is not relevant to the trade unions.
The decisions around Apthorp directly affect the staff who are trade union members. Furthermore there is the potential for a significant knock-on effect in terms of the budget. As a result Barnet UNISON has been denied the opportunity to consider alternatives which may have ended up being less costly both on a financial and a humane level than the only option presented.” (An extract from the report)
What is deeply troubling is that this happened in the week of the CQC report “The State of Care”
Some of the headlines in the report are below.
- “The Care Quality Commission (CQC) says health and care staff are “exhausted and depleted” and working under intense levels of pressure.
- Urgent action is needed to stop a “tsunami of unmet need” rippling across essential services this winter, the care regulator has warned.
- Desperately needed social care staff are quitting their jobs to work in the tourism and hospitality sector because they are ‘burnt out’, the sector has warned.
- Exhausted staff are leaving the key worker roles to fill shortages in other sectors, as pubs and restaurants struggle to find enough staff.
“We have Covid infection levels increasing daily, an overworked and under resourced NHS staff, a deliberate lack of action/leadership by this government and lack of leadership from the political opposition in Parliament and a negligent national media, it looks like we are sleep walking into a health and social care crisis of biblical proportions. We will continue to do what we always do for Barnet UNISON members which is providing public support and standing side by side with them whatever is happening to them.”
(John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.)
Background to the Save Apthorp campaign
1.Update: 93 Covid heroes face the sack
2. Barnet UNISON request the right to speak on behalf of 93 Covid Heroes
3. What happened to the 11 Barnet Council Care Homes and day centres in 1999?
4. What is going on, just who owns Apthorp care home?
5. Update on Apthorp consultation: Save Apthorp
6. Join our We Are Barnet Save Apthorp lobby in person and online
7. A Tale of Two Priorities
8. Is Apthorp care setting closing or not?
9.Going, going gone, sold to…….what is going on at Apthorp?
Barnet UNISON notes:
- The suspension by Labour-led Kirklees Council of UNISON Branch Secretary Paul Holmes in December 2019
- That Kirklees Council has had almost two years to carry out an investigation
- That Paul has been a Nalgo and then UNISON steward for 46 years, and Branch Secretary for 32 years, and is currently the President of UNISON
- That Kirklees UNISON is one of the largest branches in the country and had 3 live strike ballots and one pending when Paul was suspended
- On hearing that Paul Holmes had been suspended the Council’s Deputy Leader said at the time, “There is a Father Christmas”.
Barnet UNISON believes:
- That an injury to one is an injury to all – employers must not be allowed to get away with attacking our union organisation and our union activists, reps, branch and national officers.
- The Deputy Leader’s statement shows that UNISON and Paul have been a thorn in their side, and critical to resisting cuts and closures of public services – delaying any investigation for so long indicates the aim was more to undermine union organisation in the Council.
Barnet UNISON resolves:
- To campaign for Kirklees Council to end the suspension of Paul.
- To write to both the Chief Executive and the Council Leader calling on them to lift Paul’s suspension.
- To affiliate to the Defend Paul Holmes Campaign and publicise and mobilise for campaign events and activities.
Barnet UNISON Branch Executive unanimously passed this motion on 8 September 2021.
Incredibly last week our reps were informed that Barnet Council were continuing with the repairs at Apthorp with the intention that it will re-open.
This was shocking news in that the staff were not informed it was re-opening and the Council delegated report which triggered the announcement of the sacking of the 93 Covid heroes did not mention that Apthorp would re-open
The only recorded decision was as follows:
“1. To commence work with the residents of Apthorp and their families to identify appropriate alternative placements and effect a safe transfer to the new home.”
View report here https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?Id=8668
“Why did Barnet Council consult residents, relatives, Trade Unions and staff on the options before simply imposing a decision that is damaging both to resident and staff?”
Now we know it is re-opening we are seeking a meaningful consultation on an alternative way to deal with the issues facing the residents and staff.
Look out for further updates.
Capita have received a staggering £555 million from Barnet Council whilst 93 #CovidHeroes care workers have been given their redundancy notice due to a decision made by Barnet Council
Big thanks to @ReasonableNB for keeping tally of the #Capita payments
“Just what we pay Capita – How they billed £555 million to one council”
This is truly shocking our #WeAreBarnet #keyworkers just don’t understand why money can be found for Capita but not for the residents of #Apthorp
Please come along in solidarity for our 93 Covid Heroes who after working through Covid were told two weeks ago their jobs were going.
The lobby starts 6 pm outside Hendon Town Hall and finishes at 7 pm.
This will be an opportunity to hear from the care workers directly as to what has happened.
Barnet UNISON has a proud history of standing up for members when they are in need therefore we are calling on all Barnet UNISON members and trade union members to attend our Solidarity public lobby.
We had asked to speak at the Adults & Safeguarding Committee which starts at 7 pm inside Hendon Town Hall , but our request was denied.
We have been offered a meeting and we are waiting for the date and time.
We also want to extend our request for solidarity to the wider Trade Union movement and we are pleased to announce that our lobby will be hosted by Socialist Telly.
You can find Socialist Telly on You Tube here https://www.youtube.com/c/SocialistTelly
Here are details to join the Save Apthorp care home lobby online
Join Barnet UNISON Zoom Meeting Tuesday 14 September at 5.45 pm – 7 pm
Meeting ID: 882 3024 6920
News has come to light which suggests that Barnet Council does not own Apthorp care home.
See Land Registry which shows that the owner is CATALYST HOUSING LIMITED (Industrial and Provident Society No. IP16561R) of Ealing Gateway, 26-30 Uxbridge Road, London W5 2AU.
Let’s go back to Barnet Council delegated Powers report which made the decision to close the home which has created untold stress and anxiety for residents and their relatives along with the 93 Covid heroes who work there.
“In March 2021 and May 2021 routine fire safety assessments, followed by additional building conditions surveys identified that significant and intrusive works would be required to bring the building up to standard. Indicative costs were estimated to be in the region of £2.7m.”
The report fails to mention that the costs which are high should be paid by the owner of the property instead it is the reason to justify the decision to create havoc at Apthorp.
Furthermore, the communication over this decision is all over the place.
In the communication to staff and trade unions the time to get out states 31 October 2021 yet in this report it states:
“This report recommends that, to ensure residents’ needs are being met appropriately, the adult social care team should work with YCB to support residents to move to alternative care homes by end November 2021.”
There are so many questions that are unanswered about this grievous decision see our next post
In the meantime, we are still waiting to hear back from the Chair of Adults & Safeguarding Committee in answer to our request to address the meeting on behalf of our 93 Covid heroes. The silence is deafening.
Details of our lobby on Tuesday 14 September at 6 pm are here below
Barnet Council back in 1998 made a decision that it would outsource all of its Elderly Services residential and day care services.
They not only wanted to get rid of the workforce they handed over the property to the lucky contractor.
Imagine that 11 prime real estate locations and they only required to build four new settings (they only built three new homes, more on that in a later post).
Barnet UNISON commissioned a report to counter this proposal.
Here is what we recommended to Barnet Council back in 1999
We recommend that:
- Barnet maintains ownership of its residential homes and continues to
directly employ staff engaged in these homes. Any reorganisation and
redirection of resources in favour of specialist or domiciliary care should be in
the context of in-house provision and joint work with health organisations,
rather than transfers to the independent sector.
- The residential and domiciliary services, including home care, day care and
respite care, be subject to a comprehensive Best Value service review which
includes a detailed examination of quality and cost.
- The council works with the trade unions and staff to develop the in-house
service. As part of this a review of the operation and management of the
service should be conducted with the full involvement of the trade unions, users and the wider community in accordance with the Best Value requirements .
- Alternative funding options and the impact of phased improvement work on
the capital programme require further detailed investigation before any
decisions are made.
You can read the FULL report here Barnet Res Care 1999 report
Needless to say, our report was ignored, and the staff and Council properties handed over to contractors.
Next post will be on what happened next?
Did we get high quality care homes fit for the future?
What happened to the work force?
On Tuesday 24 August 2021 Barnet UNISON wrote to the Cllr Rajput Sachin Chair of the Adults & Safeguarding Committee
“ I am writing to you today on behalf of our members who provide care services at Apthorp care home.
On Friday 20 August 2021, 93 staff were informed that as a result of a Council decision to close Apthorp residential home on 31 October 2021 they are all at risk of redundancy.
This decision has understandably left our members devasted especially considering their hard work looking after vulnerable residents during the height of Covid when there were no vaccines available.
I must profess I am also concerned about the speed in which the home is to close. These are vulnerable residents and the consequences of moving can sometimes be fatal.
Our members want to know the real reason as to why the home is closing.
For your information these are the questions we submitted to Your Choice Barnet and we are seeking answers:
- Who made the decision to close Apthorp?
- When did the meeting on the future of Apthorp take place?
- What information about Apthorp was provided to the decision makers?
- Please provide copies of the information provided to the decision makers.
- Please provide a copy of the minutes of the meeting and the actions agreed.
I note that there is an Adults and Safeguarding Committee meeting on Tuesday 14 September 2021 at 7 pm.
Our members have asked that we seek permission from the Chair of this Committee in order we can make our case for this decision to be delayed.
I am formally requesting that UNISON is allowed to make representation to this committee.
Our members will be attending this meeting it would be helpful if they could see that this committee will do the right thing and provide these care workers with an opportunity to put their case against closure.
As of Thursday 26 August 2021, we have not yet had a response to this request.
Colleagues from Adult Health and Social Care are also affected by this new legislation as anyone attending care homes as part of their work will also have to be vaccinated against COVID. We are having constructive and positive discussions with the Senior Management Team to avoid colleagues being dismissed. However, our members are rightly concerned at the potential for divisions to open up in teams around this question.
Additional key questions are: how will the employer keep the information as to who is vaccinated and who is not, and how/when will this be shared with staff and with UNISON. This is all new territory for us and not one we wanted to be in, so all questions and suggestions are welcome with the aim of doing our utmost to protect everyone from harm at work.
UNISON has now published its guidance just this week – please read here