Update: 93 Covid heroes face the sack

Monday 23 August 2021

Care staff working at Apthorp residential and day care service were told last Friday 20 August 2021 that Barnet Council had made the decision to close Apthorp.

There are approximately 93 care staff working at this location.

Apthorp provides services for vulnerable older people.

Apthorp was originally owned by Barnet Council until it was sold off with 10 other Council residential homes and day services to Catalyst Housing who contracted Fremantle Trust to take over the Council care workforce.

The current Apthorp buildings were part of a deal which meant Catalyst Housing were given all 11 real estate locations to develop for themselves and in return they would provide modern state of the art residential and day care services on four of the sites.

Only three were built.

What were the staff been told?

In a letter from their employer it states:

“the Council and Your Choice Barnet have taken the decision to vacate Apthorp Care Home by 31 October 2021. You will be aware that we have been carrying out some fire safety works in the building. Whilst all emergency works have been carried out, further surveys have taken place which highlight that significant levels of repairs are needed. The scope of works required in Apthorp Care Centre are extensive and would be extremely disruptive to residents of the home.”

At the meeting some staff responded to this devastating news by claiming that moving vulnerable residents from Apthorp to another home at this time will result in blood on someone’s hands because some of the residents won’t react well to the move.

There is documented evidence of the serious and sometimes fatal risks when moving vulnerable and elderly residents out of their homes. What is worrying about this plan is that Barnet Council are attempting to fast track the move of residents in less than two months which does not provide ample time to prepare and support vulnerable residents.

“Two decades to run down a service, wasted millions of public monies and now 93 Covid heroes are to be sacked.  

The world is upside down, seriously it is less than 12 months since our members were trying to care for vulnerable residents struggling to deal with Covid. There was no vaccine back then and the lack of PPE was an issue for members who were risking their own lives and those of their own family every day they went into work.

I won’t forget the fear in the voices of care workers as Covid was letting rip across Care homes. I can never begin to understand the terror our members were going through every day and all for the magnificent sum of £8.72 per hour! So here we are now August 2021 and our members have been told their workplace is closing, through no fault of their own.

Barnet UNISON will be supporting every single one of our members at this time we will also be seeking to find out who made this decision and why, this is not over. Keep watching this space…….”

(John Burgess Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON).

“The workers at the care home and day centre will have their lives thrown up in the air some few months after banners at the care home proclaimed them as heroes for how they dealt with the pandemic. There has been absolutely NO engagement with staff, residents, their families or the trade unions at any point to consider how Apthorp could be made viable. The cornerstone of activism for people with disabilities – nothing about us without us – has been utterly and completely ignored.

The elderly and the workforce are ignored and presumably they are just furniture to be moved around as The Great and The Good see fit. They are not worthy of any consideration. They have received no apology for this shocking turn of affairs.”

(Helen Davies Branch Chair Barnet UNISON.)

“We know the Care workers are ‘fit for purpose’ – they worked through the most unprecedented times in living history giving care to the most vulnerable in our community – in many cases end of life care to the clients they obviously love while putting themselves and their loved ones in danger to deliver care for their patients.

Their reward? The Barnet Group have announced their plan to make 93 Covid Heroes redundant. To sack the very workers that a few months ago were described as ‘Heroes’ because the company they work for obviously didn’t complete any meaningful due diligence when transferring staff and buildings from Fremantle, begs the question as to who should be facing redundancy.” (Patrick Hunter Barnet UNISON Convenor Barnet Homes.)

“The planned closure of the Apthorpe care home is the latest Adult Care policy decision that will have a major impact on service users, job losses for care workers and another policy decision that will ultimately cost council taxpayers dearly.

It marks 22 years of knee-jerk decison-making by Barnet Council which havve been devoid of economic and social impact analysis and cost benefit analysis since Barnet’s care homes were privatised to a Catalyst/Fremantle ‘partnership’.

Some partnership when eleven homes left the Council and only three return twenty years later. So what has happened to the land of the other eight homes?”

(Dexter Whitfield, Director, European Services Strategy Unit)

End.

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

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good

The Good News is that with the support of our Bin workers, Barnet Council has agreed to restore National Green Book Weekend and Bank Holiday rates of pay which will mean large numbers of our lowest paid members will be earning more money.

The Bad

In February 2021 Barnet UNISON submitted a proposal for a COVID thank you payment for all frontline workers, care workers, school staff, depot workers.

The Bad news is that this proposal was rejected.

Details of our proposal is here.

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/2021.02.11.-COVID-thank-you-payment.pdf

and the Ugly.

On Friday 11 June 2021 Barnet UNISON enters into negotiations with The Barnet Group and Barnet Council about the serious inequalities in the workplace that are bad for the health and well being of our members and their families.

End.

You can’t be disciplined for taking strike action. Thanks UNISON

“Employers can no longer mistreat staff who take part in industrial action, says UNISON”

“UK law had previously prevented employers from sacking staff involved in strike action or other workplace disputes, but not from disciplining or making life difficult for them, says UNISON.

But now, disciplinary action against workers who go on strike will be unlawful. This follows today’s judgment at the employment appeal tribunal (EAT) over a case taken by care worker Fiona Mercer against the Alternative Futures Group (AFG).

She had been involved in organising, and subsequently took part in, a long-running dispute over AFG’s plans to cut payment for sleep-in shifts undertaken by its care staff.”

Read more here.

https://www.unison.org.uk/news/press-release/2021/06/employers-can-no-longer-mistreat-staff-who-take-part-in-industrial-action-says-unison/

 

 

BREAKINGNEWS: Local government pay offer rejected

To all local government branches in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

(Scotland for information)

UNISON’s NJC Committee, the union’s national committee for local government pay across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, met this morning to consider the Employers’ 1.5% pay offer. The Committee strongly agreed to reject the offer. In the context of our claim for a 10% pay increase, the offer of 1.5% is insulting, and shows blatant disregard for the hard work and sacrifices made by local government workers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, providing essential services and keeping our communities safe and well.

UNISON is calling on the local government employers to enter urgent negotiations so that this offer can be improved. UNISON members are also deeply frustrated at the long delay in resolving term time working issues for school support staff and others, and we are seeking reassurances that this work will be prioritised.

At the same time, UNISON is clear that more funding is needed from central government to ensure that local authorities and schools can continue to provide the full range of services and pay staff properly. UNISON is calling on the National Employers and local authorities to work with us to lobby for more resources for local government.

Contact: NJC pay enquiries inbox NJCPay2021@unison.co.uk

 

National Pay talks: 1.5% insulting offer

Barnet UNISON Update on National Pay Award: 1.5% is an insulting offer to Council workers especially those who ensured public services continued through the #Covid pandemic. It shows workers that this government doesn’t  value them. Bring on the strike ballot✊

Read UNISON comments below

https://www.unison.org.uk/…/disappointing-council-pay…/

#LowPay #PovertyPay #Equalities #Pay #Keyworkers #UNISON

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/

BreakingNEWS: Update bin workers overtime claim

Update: 12 May 2021

In our meeting with the Chief Executive we submitted a new proposal in which we believe will ensure that our members working in Waste & Recycling are paid the fair rate of time and half for working on a Saturday.

We repeated the facts that other Council workers in Libraries, Social Services and the Registrar Service all have local agreements why are the Council refusing the same for Waste & Recycling workers.

Barnet UNISON made it clear that if we don’t have an agreement we are ready to ballot our members.

The Chief Executive said they would need a few days to consider our proposal and we have agreed to a final meeting early next week.

There will be further updates early next week.

End. 

 

 

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