Election Time: “Who has the back of Barnet UNISON members?”

As we approach Council elections, our members are asking if there will be a political change here at Barnet Council and if so, what it would mean for them.

It is now 20 years since Labour handed back power to the Tories in Barnet Council. Back then it was a very different time, and the Tories were not keen on outsourcing. They appeared to enjoy running the services themselves.

Things changed around 2008.

This is when easyCouncil was presented as the future for delivering Council services. This approach was promoted by a succession of consultants who were richly rewarded with lucrative contracts. It would be fair to say Barnet Council was “consultant dependent”, no decisions could be made without first paying a consultant 100’s of thousands of pounds of public money.

“The One Barnet Consultant’s bill hits £6.3 million” http://reasonablenewbarnet.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-one-barnet-consultants-bill-hits-63.html

Easycouncil became One Barnet, which enabled the mass outsourcing sausage machine to churn out report after report, all extolling the virtues of outsourcing and undermining the hard work of the in-house staff.

Fast forward 14 years and there appears to be growing anger towards the Government over the alleged breaches of Covid rules at its heart. There is even speculation that previously safe Tory Councils could be at risk.

If there was political change in Barnet would it be a Labour or Lib- Labour Coalition?

And if so what would that mean for our outsourced members all of whom are desperate to return back under direct management of Barnet Council?

What will a change in political leadership mean for our Barnet UNISON members working for NSL the Parking Services contractor?

What will a change in political leadership mean for our Barnet UNISON members working for Capita and the two contracts?

What will a change in political leadership mean for our Barnet UNISON members working for the Catering Contractor ISS? 

What will a change in political leadership mean for our Barnet UNISON members working for Barnet Education Learning Skills (BELS)?

What will a change in political leadership mean for our Barnet UNISON members working for Housing workers working for Barnet Homes? 

What will a change in political leadership mean for our Barnet UNISON members working for 600 care workers working for Your Choice Barnet?

What will a change in political leadership mean for our Barnet UNISON members working for the cleaning contractor Norse? 

What will a change in political leadership mean for our Barnet UNISON members working for the security contractor Blue Nine? 

All the above services used to be provided by Barnet Council and many of the outsourced services are frontline services run by key workers clapped as heroes during the pandemic.

UNISON policy is for all these services to be run in-house and that they will publicly support Barnet UNISON to try to campaign to bring these services back under direct control of the Council.

The other big concern for Council workers and the low paid is PAY. 

The National Pay Campaign was a failure and whilst UNISON begins the work to address the massive deficit between the union and its membership nationally what does this mean now?

Our low paid members are facing serious financial hardship and do not have the luxury of waiting for another national pay campaign.

What is low pay in our depot based Street Scene Services ? 

A Street Cleansing operative earns between £11.31 to £12.03 and hour annual salary £22,575  

A Bin worker loader or a Gardener earns between £11.82 to £12.47 and hour annual salary £ 23,400 

A Passenger Transport Driver, Gardener Driver, Town Keeper earns between £12.24 to £12.91 and hour annual salary £24,245

A coach escort, skilled gardener driver, tractor driver earns between £12.69 to £13.39 and hour annual salary £25,128

A LGV driver operative, LGV Tractor drive earns between £13.15 to £14.12 and hour annual salary £26,508

A Bin worker driver earns between £14.12 to £15.72 and hour annual salary £29,502 

 

Barnet UNISON had its first Emergency Cost of Living Crisis meeting on 30 March 2022. The meeting agreed to progress the claim and bring the full proposal to a vote of the second Cost of Living Crisis meeting on Tuesday 26 April at 6 pm.  

What will a change in political leadership mean for our low paid Barnet UNISON members working for Barnet Council? 

The question on the lips of these workers is which political party will publicly join UNISON in advocating the return of outsourced services back into Barnet Council and to meet to discuss how to end pay poverty for low paid workers?

End.

 

Breaking News: Barnet Homes ASSIST Strike – VICTORY!

Credit: Anne-Marie Sanderson

Barnet Homes Assist plays the role of a fourth emergency service. They respond to the most vulnerable in our Barnet community, visiting clients in their homes or alerting the other emergency services after being alerted by an alarm call from a client.

The Barnet Group brought forward proposals just before Christmas to outsource or close this vital lifeline which serves 5,000 Barnet residents by the 1st of April 2022, all for the want of a budget shortfall of £160k.

Members requested a ballot for industrial action.

The ballot closed on the 16th of March.

77% of Assist UNISON members returned the ballot on time with 100% voting to take industrial action to ‘Save Assist’ and oppose the outsourcing or closure of this vital service.

The Barnet Group has listened and has made a commitment to look at other ways in which the service can become financially viable in the long term such as investment in new technology to allow Assist to bid for more contracts. This has gone some way to allay the fears of the dedicated staff who work at Assist and the vulnerable clients they serve. Talks are ongoing with the staff and Barnet UNISON about the future for the Assist service. But what is clear that Barnet UNISON members in the Barnet Group or in Barnet Council will stand together to fight against any proposal to outsource Public Services.” Patrick Hunter, Barnet Homes Convenor.

“UNISON members at ASSIST were and are prepared to fight against outsourcing of this vital frontline service that serves the most vulnerable residents in our community – we clapped for them during the pandemic – and I applaud them now, heroes, every last one of them.’’ Helen Davies, Branch Chair Barnet UNISON.

“Massive respect to our Barnet UNISON emergency response key worker members who work for the ASSIST service. They voted (100%) to take strike action with a 77% turnout in response to their employer seeking to outsource them. Today’s response from the employer that they are no longer pursuing outsourcing is welcome news. We are shortly to have fresh talks over the future for the service.” John Burgess Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON.

End.

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

Background:

UNISON Official Ballot is on for “ASSIST” Workers to take Strike Action

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2022/03/02/unison-official-ballot-is-on-for-assist-workers-to-take-strike-action/

Barnet UNISON, Response to Barnet Homes ASSIST Proposals, 17/01/22

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Barnet-UNISON-Response-to-Barnet-Homes-ASSIST-Proposal.pdf

 

 

 

 

Emergency Cost of Living Crisis meeting

Dear members

The Cost Of Living Crisis is real and it we need a plan to defend and support our members.

 

  • UK Big Six energy firms made more than £1bn in profit
  • £40bn profits for BP and Shell
  • Petrol and diesel prices are the highest ever and it’s likely to get higher
  • The worst financial squeeze in 60 years, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Food prices rising
  • Food banks usage increasing
  • Rent rises, council tax increases, mortgages rising, water bills increasing.

All of this and yet

  • MPs are getting a £2,200 pay rise when most of our members are only getting 1.75%
  • The Government gave £37 billion for the Covid Test and Trace.
  • The Government were handing out million-pound contracts to their mates during the pandemic
  • Finally, the Government worked from home whilst many of our frontline members had to go into work without a vaccine in order to keep public services running.
  • And let’s not forget the wine and cheese parties.

Barnet UNISON is calling a meeting of all of our members to listen to our members and discuss and agree a plan of action.

We want to hear real live experiences from our members.

  • What is worrying you?
  • What do you think your employer should be doing to help you?

The meeting is on Wednesday 30 March from 6- 7pm

Please see details for joining the meeting below.

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85415771085?pwd=aWVmVEdTcHdaT2hHa3BPZzV4UEQ0dz09

Meeting ID: 854 1577 1085

Passcode: 876061

End.

Barnet UNISON

How to support Ukraine

UNISON is working with the international trade union movement to mobilise support for those affected by the war in Ukraine – and branches and members can help too

No one can fail to be moved by the scenes of terrified civilians taking shelter underground or of the hundreds of thousands of women and children desperately trying to cross the border to safety, to an uncertain future as a refugee.

UNISON immediately condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine last week and has called for Russian troops to withdraw to allow meaningful peace talks to go ahead.

The union has reached out in solidarity to public service unions in Ukraine whose members are on the frontline trying to save lives as civilian casualties rise. Workers and ordinary people in both Ukraine and Russia are the victims of this war, not the perpetrators.

It has today agreed to donate £10,000 to an appeal by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

It is also talking to our European and international union federations, EPSU and PSI, about how we can practically support those unions and Ukrainian public service workers.

Europe is facing a major refugee crisis. As most European countries have opened their borders to refugees from Ukraine, the UK’s own government is shamefully still putting up significant administrative barriers to prevent refugees arriving in the UK.

And it is not just Ukrainians who are trying to get out. Thousands of migrant workers and students from around the world are caught up in the chaos and there have been disturbing reports of racial discrimination against them by border guards, which UNISON condemns.

How you can help

UNISON branches and members have been asking how they can help. The ITUC has launched an appeal to support the Ukrainian trade union movement and ordinary workers in Ukraine.

Click on link below to find out more

https://www.unison.org.uk/news/article/2022/03/how-to-support-ukraine/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=March%20U%20digital&utm_source=Communications&utm_content=How%20to%20support%20Ukraine

UNISON Official Ballot is on for “ASSIST” Workers to take Strike Action

 

UNISON is balloting the ASSIST workers this week the result of the ballot will be announced 16 March.

  • ASSIST provides this vital support to some 5,000 residents in Barnet and in Brent.
  • For the lack of £160,000 a year the service is on notice that it is to be outsourced. UNISON has agreed to back these workers and will ballot all of them for official strike action.
  • The Assist service, amongst other things, provides and maintains equipment to 5,000 mainly elderly residents of Barnet.

The most common of these items is the “lifeline” equipment which a resident would use if they fell. The resident would pull a cord or press a button on a pendant alarm which activates in the call centre and a decision is taken about whether someone from ASSIST needs to contact emergency services, a relative or go out themselves to emergencies. This support often makes the difference between someone being able to continue living at home or having to go into residential care.

During the Covid Pandemic the ASSIST service was rightly described as the “4th Emergency Service” by senior managers in The Barnet Group.

“Last Autumn we had the debacle of 74 care workers being given redundancy due to the closure of Apthorp Care Centre and now this! This service is so cheap to run and so valuable to thousands of residents of Barnet – it beggars belief that once again the lives of key workers are being thrown up in the air as soon as the crisis is over. We want Barnet Council and The Barnet Group which are essentially one and the same thing, to do the right thing and find a way forward which benefits residents and keeps a valued service in Barnet.” (Helen Davies, Branch Chair Barnet UNISON.)

“Keyworkers who were rightly praised by their managers are now rewarded for their hard work with outsourcing. At a time when Barnet Council are bringing services back in-house from Capita how can this valued service not been treated the same. If Human Resources, Finance, Recruitment, are needed back in-house why isn’t the ASSIST service being given the same treatment? I call upon Barnet Council to take back this service in-house and provide peace of mind for the 5,000 residents and the inspirational ASSIST workers who care so much about the service they provide.” (John Burgess Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON).

“The Assist workers have the full backing of Greater London UNISON for your dispute. You provide a vital service which enables vulnerable people to stay in their homes safe in the knowledge someone will respond quickly in an emergency. It’s a no brainer that your service benefits and supports the work of social care and the NHS. We want you to win and will support you all the way.” (Tracey Dalling Regional Secretary Greater London UNISON.)

End.

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

Background:

  1. For more details on the ASSIST service and Barnet UNISON response click on our link below Barnet UNISON Response to Barnet Homes ASSIST Proposal
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