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/

Update: Barnet UNISON Bin workers overtime dispute

On Wednesday 12 May at 4 pm Barnet UNISON is meeting with the Chief Executive to try to get the Council to do the right thing and end the unfairness and pay workers the right rate of pay for working overtime.

We have produced our flyer in a number of languages

2021.04.22 W&R Overtime Dispute A5 leaflet Romanian

2021.04.22 W&R Overtime Dispute A5 leaflet portuguese

2021.04.22 W&R Overtime Dispute A5 leaflet Polish

2021.04.22 W&R Overtime Dispute A5 leaflet Hungarian

2021.04.22 W&R Overtime Dispute A5 leaflet english

If we are unable to reach an agreement our internal strike ballot will commence the following day.

For further information you can ring the branch office on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

You can follow us on Twitter here: @barnet_unison

And on Facebook here: facebook.com/BarnetUNISON

 

End.

 

 

Pay slips and the Barnet Council Pension Scheme

Lots of our members have had problems understanding their pay slips and many of our members are not aware of the 50/50 pension options.

We are pleased to announced that Barnet Council have agreed to put on an online meeting for all Street Scene staff to look at:

  1. Understanding your pay slip
  2. The benefits of the Barnet Council Pension Scheme

Date: Tuesday 11 May 6 – 7 pm

To join the meeting simply click on the link below

Join the Pensions and Payroll information webinar on 11 May at 18:00 -19:00

 

*** Please note this is NOT a UNISON meeting

 

Press release: “We Are Barnet” – Pay like Barnet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“If we’re good enough for Barnet residents, we’re good enough for Barnet terms and conditions”A Barnet Group Worker

“I have rarely discovered such a deeply embedded scale of inequalities and exploitation in a local authority arms length company. This a damning indictment on the London Borough of Barnet who have colluded with this model for nearly a decade.” Dexter Whitfield, Director, European Services Strategy Unit

“It might be the London Living Wage but it’s not the London Living standard, is it?”A Barnet Group Worker on hearing they are to be moved from being paid the National minimum wage to the London Living Wage (£8.72/ hr to £10.85/ hr)

The Barnet Group workers are all on different terms and conditions often for the exact same job. This creates divisions and inequalities. Very few of the workers are on terms and conditions which resemble the Council terms and conditions and although the Council terms and conditions are hardly generous they are better in all areas than the terms and conditions most of the workers in The Barnet Group have. It means the Council can choose to pay inferior terms and conditions if it wants to.

Barnet Group staff worked through the COVID pandemic putting themselves and the lives of their families at risk. A number of them became ill with COVID as a result. They are care workers, support workers and housing workers.

The Barnet Group is a subsidiary wholly owned by Barnet Council. It now employs over 1,000 workers and is almost as big as the Council itself. All of the jobs and services done by The Barnet Group were all once carried out by the Council directly.

‘The embedded inequalities of Terms and Conditions and Pay across The Barnet Group cannot be tolerated any further.  

Barnet Group staff have been providing frontline services to the Public all the way through the Pandemic with little or no reward or recognition for the vital work and services we provide to Barnet residents on behalf of the Council – all we are asking is to be treated with the same respect as our colleagues who work directly for the Council – it really isn’t too much to ask!’  Patrick Hunter, Barnet UNISON convenor for Barnet Homes

“The Barnet Group is ridiculously complicated for work colleagues to understand. Frankly they do not understand how they can be doing the same job but be paid differently and I think we only need to understand one thing – it’s wrong. The high death rate in the UK from COVID is largely due to the socio-economic inequalities in the UK. We have had nearly one continuous year of lockdown. We all suffer when people are not paid enough to live on and thrive. This is why our campaign is about reversing that race to the bottom in pay, terms and conditions.” Helen Davies, Barnet UNISON Branch Chair

End.

Note to Editors: Contact details: Helen Davies Barnet UNISON on or 020 8359 2088 or email: Helen.Davies@barnetunison.org.uk

Background:

To View Dexter Whitfields report summitted to Chief Executive of The Barnet Group please click on the UNISON link below

Barnet UNISON TBG Pay Claim

“We Are Barnet” Campaign explained https://youtu.be/m7wB0hY45Rk

We Are Barnet” explainer flyer https://bit.ly/3r9TDed

“We Are Barnet – Pay like Barnet” petition http://chng.it/wCm6ZzWTXs

 

 

 

 

 

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