Housing Services Restructure

HOUSING MEMBERS

 

As you are well aware the situation in regard to Corona Virus is changing on daily basis, I have done my best to consult with UNISON members on the latest set of proposals from management.

 

In general, the opinion is, that given the crisis we are all facing, this would not be an expedient time to launch a dispute – UNISON members are more concerned with service  delivery to our vulnerable tenants.

 

However,

 

There is still an ongoing concern that there are issues with the restructure that have not been addressed and will need to be scrutinised by UNISON members before implementation.

 

So although UNISON are not declaring a dispute at the present time, due to the unprecedented circumstances we all find ourselves in, we are reserving the right to revisit the issues which are still outstanding and should UNISON members decide, declare a dispute before the full implementation of the proposals or when circumstances have returned to ‘normal’  [whenever that is]

 

 

 

Enough is enough. PPE for all care workers now.

Please sign this petition

http://chng.it/GqNGny9X

We demand Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is made immediately available for all care workers.

It is time for a change in the Public Health guidance on wearing PPE.

All care workers need to be provided with PPE (mask and gloves etc.) and training in how to use it.

Until now you have to be working with someone known to have the virus to have PPE.

That may have been right back then but now it’s got to change.

Care workers need PPE.

PPE needs to be provided on the assumption any of us could have Covid-19.

We can’t afford our care workers being exposed to the virus or passing it on to service users.

It takes just one case in a care home and suddenly care workers will be sent home to self-isolate.

But who looks after the residents if you send the care workers to self-isolate?

We don’t have enough care workers to work to this strategy which is why ALL care workers must be provided with PPE.

We can see there isn’t enough PPE for the NHS but this should not be a reason for not making this demand.

If care homes start falling where do you think this will end?

More admissions to hospitals!

If this Government can’t ensure there is enough provision of PPE then they should step aside and let others take over.

It’s already happening and we can’t stay silent on this any longer.

It’s a simple demand – PPE must be provided for all care workers.

No excuses, no delay.

End.

 

Housing Restructure Update

Dear member,

I hope you and all your loved ones are well.

See attached or below.

This is the latest update from management in regard to the ongoing Consultation in Leasehold, Neighbourhood, Rental Income and Customer Contact Centre.

I have not been able to consult with you on these proposals or call a meeting with you to discuss whether these proposals change the position agreed upon the last time we met on the 11 March 2020.

The position then was for a dispute to be lodged at JNCC and thereafter enable an indicative ballot of members effected by as to what industrial action you are prepared to take.

Obviously the Corona Virus has markedly changed priorities.

The next scheduled JNCC is on the 3 April 2020 – so given that management have moved their position, put some further risk mitigating measures in place and moved the interview dates for ‘at risk’ staff to the 1st of June

Should UNISON lodge the dispute?

Or wait and continue further dialogue?

Please reply to this email and indicate either 1 or 2.

  1. LODGE DISPUTE NOW
  2. DO NOT LODGE AT THIS TIME

Let me know your thoughts –

In solidarity

Stay safe

Patrick Hunter

UNISON Convenor for The Barnet Group

 

 

 

 

 

Another Capita Pension Service Fail!

The reports on data quality issues with the Capita Pension Administration Service based in Darlington have been many.

I noticed that there is another Data Quality Report submitted for the Pension Fund Committee, on Thursday 30 May 2019

(See here https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s52720/Data%20Quality%20Report.pdf )

It reminded me of the Open Portal web site all members of the Council Pension Scheme had access to before Capita took over.

It was taken down in 2014 with a promise that it would be back up soon.

It’s 24 May 2019 and it is not available and worrying Capita seem to think it was not in the contract to provide such a portal.

Whenever I need to check out the contract there is only one person to contact and that is Barnet Blogger Mr Reasonable I contacted him because I was convinced it must be in the contract and literally five minutes later he sent over the relevant section in the Capita contract.

The specific requirement can be found in the HR Method Statement (which is attached as a PDf document)

Final_HR_Method_Statement_Mar2013_Capita_redacted (1)

Scroll down to Page 30, paragraph (emphasis mine)

 2.8 PENSIONS ADMINISTRATION / OUTPUT SPECIFICATION REF: HR008

“Members will also have access their pension information via the web portal. This on-line service gives the members the facility to perform ‘what-if’ calculations, view and update their personal information including nominees. Benefit statements and other scheme documentation will be available for current and deferred members. Pensioners will have access and be able to view all their payslips and P60s.”

I can’t even begin to explain how useful this would be for members of the Pension Scheme, ironically if this had been implemented it would have saved resources for Capita.

Have I notified the Council?

Yes, I have raised this immediately with the Council.

I have two questions.

  1. When will Barnet Council hold Capita to account and insist the above web portal is put in place immediately?
  2. Why is the Council continuing to accept failure from Capita in particular why is not the Pension Service being brought back in-house.

At this moment of publication Capita are still providing our Pension Service and their Share Price is £1.05 p a share. See below 

Breaking News: “Seriously are they really keeping Capita?”

 

Barnet UNISON was bitterly disappointed to read that Barnet Council is now back tracking on a decision agreed at a Special Policy and Resources Committee on 19 July 2018.

The decision was to review the council’s partnership with Capita, and authorise the Chief Executive to develop a Full Business Case for all of the following Options:

  1. Keep both Capita contracts as they are now.
  2. Bring some Capita services back in-house from both contracts.
  3. Bring all the services back in-house from both contracts.

“all three options should be fully tested, consulted on and considered in a Full Business Case before a final decision was made”

Barnet Council has now announced that only these services will be brought back in-house:

“It is intended that the report will recommend that Finance and Accounting (excluding transactional services provided from the Darlington shared service centre) and Strategic HR be transferred back to the council by the end of this financial year (March 2019).”

The announcement goes on to add:

“The arrangements for remaining services are still to be considered and timescales will be confirmed in due course. However, it is also likely that the report will recommend that Highways and Regeneration be reviewed as one of the earlier phases.”

The news may come as a surprise to our members, especially in light to recent fraud and the damning Grant Thornton report which is going to be discussed at the Audit Committee on 22 November.

However, Barnet UNISON is not surprised by the decision: this is Barnet.

Last week we sent a report to all Councillors on the Policy and Resources Committee entitled:

 “How bad does it have to get?”

You can read our report here:

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Capita-review-Barnet-UNISON-FINAL.pdf

The sheer number of  Councils ending their contracts with Capita in 2018 is very worrying.

These big contracts are just as complex as the one in Barnet and often involve the same services that Barnet outsourced to Capita.

If Southampton, Sheffield, Blackburn and Birmingham can end contracts with Capita and still make savings then why can’t Barnet?

Barnet UNISON is not giving up on our aim to see all services brought back in-house.

This is why we are directly asking all of our members working for Capita this question:

“If you have any information, questions or concerns that you think we should know about, strictly in confidence, please make urgent contact with the Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

In the meantime take a look at this infographic below for 2018 only.

 

Meanwhile back in the real world #2 : “Taxing the sick update 2”

Barnet Council are in a serious financial crisis and are in talks with Capita as to how many services will have to be come back in-house. Staff are already worried with having to cope with more work and less resources without the added stress that the Council may start making mass redundancies in a bid to make more cuts.

It is therefore deeply troubling that the Council have announced that they want to consult on a proposal to deduct pay from staff off sick from work.

From the brief consultation we have had so far it is already very clear that the sickness levels are high with staff with serious illnesses such as cancer, strokes etc. hence we are calling the proposal “Taxing the sick”.

In September 2018 we are going to be consulting with our members on this proposal.

There will be opportunities to discuss the proposal with local reps at a number of Barnet UNISON meetings in September.

Barnet House

  • Wednesday 5 September, 12 noon, Committee room 2
  • Wednesday 12 September, 12.30 pm, Committee room 1
  • Friday 21 September, 12.30 pm, Committee room 1
  • Thursday 27 September, 12.30 pm, Committee room 2

NLBP

  • Thursday 6 September, 12.30 pm, Building 4, Central room
  • Friday 14 September, 1 pm, Building 4, Central room
  • Thursday 20 September, 12.30 pm, Building 2, G2 room
  • Tuesday 25 September, 1 pm, Building 4, Central room

However, if you need some advice or a meeting with a Barnet UNISON rep please contact the office on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Meanwhile back in the real world #1: “Don’t blame our members.”

This is a plea to Barnet residents not to take out their understandable frustration on our members working in Street Scene when their bins are not being taken away or their street cleaned.

For the past 12 months the work force has been squeezed whilst at the same time more flats are being built without any thought that more resources are badly needed to take away the increasing amount of waste and recycling and litter.

It is now well documented that Barnet Council is in a serious financial crisis, week after week the impact of senior management decisions are now being felt in Street Scene services. Cuts backs on staff and overtime cuts for street cleansing, inevitably means work will not be done.

We are getting regular feedback from our members that the public are furious when their bins are not collected or that litter is not being taken away on time.

Our members are proud to work for Barnet and frustrated that resources needed are not being provided.

If you are unhappy with the service please contact Street-based services (Including rubbish collection, potholes or graffiti) on Tel: 020 8359 4600 or Tel: 020 8359 2000.

For details on the current financial crisis click on an earlier post http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2018/06/08/fundingcrisis-at-barnet-council/ and here http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/16284942.Council_taking_urgent_action_as_budget_gap_soars/

‘Taxing the Sick’: Barnet Council Sick Pay deductions consultation begins

Barnet UNISON has been formally notified by Barnet Council of it’s intention to consult on whether to impose what we are calling a ‘tax on the sick’. It is important for all Barnet UNISON members that we~ reject the proposal. However, the Council is insistent that it wants to commence consultation before coming to a decision later in the year.

37% of sickness is short term sickness

63% of sickness is long term sickness.

This means that those with serious health conditions such as stress, cancer, strokes etc are being targeted by our Council as their time off work is contributing to the high sickness levels.

It is Barnet UNISON’s view that this is both discriminatory and unacceptable.

Furthermore we have serious concerns about the process for staff with long term health conditions to be able to access ill health retirement options. Before Capita took over this service we had hardly any complaints about the occupational health service provided by a local GP based in Barnet. Now it is a private company and is causing widespread problems across all in-house services. It is important that for those trying to come to terms with long term health issues that they should be treated with dignity and respect. They do not need ongoing delays to a process which is not complicated. In our view a new local occupational health provider should be given a contract to see how they impact on the length of delays for those off sick still waiting for a decision.

As part of this consultation we have asked for a breakdown of the types of medical conditions for both short and long term sickness reporting.

We have also requested for a breakdown of return to work meetings as we are hearing across some services they are either not happening or sporadically. It is important that when someone is off sick that they have their one to one meeting.

We are also asking for a breakdown of sickness meetings in order to understand how frequent they are taking place across the services.

It’s important that staff understand that the Council has a duty of care towards their staff. If someone is off sick it is critical that the Council has used meetings with staff to understand why someone is off sick.

What happens next?

We will continue to update our members on the consultation and towards the end we will conduct an indicative strike ballot as we believe that this proposal to ‘tax the sick’ must be dropped. We need to hear directly from our members as to what they think of this proposal. Keep a lookout for our weekly eNEWS and any email/text messages from our branch office.

Barnet UNISON has produced a number of flyers which members can download or share with work colleagues here

2018.07.16. SICK PAY leaflet v1

2018.07.16. SICK PAY leaflet v2

2018.07.16. SICK PAY leaflet v3

2018.07.16. SICK PAY leaflet v4

If you have any questions please contact the Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Fire safety issues in Barnet Libraries

Over the last year Barnet UNISON have been very concerned about Fire Safety in Barnet Libraries.

This arose because the Council were slow in providing Fires Risk Assessments (FRAs) for Libraries and in complying with the actions resulting from these assessments.

During 2017 Library buildings were altered as part of the Library Program. This included internal structural changes and the installation of technology to permit unstaffed opening hours. These changes meant that the building’s Fire Risk Assessments (FRAs) needed reviewing and replacing.

In addition a new Library, Finchley Church End was opened in September 2017 which also required a Fire Risk Assessment

UNISON began asked the Council for these Fire Risk Assessment prior to library staff returning to each site and before the Libraries opened to the public.

However the Council only produced these FRA weeks and months after library staff and the public were admitted to the Libraries.

Examples include;

1. North Finchley Library reopened to the public on the 12th June 2017

The FRA issued on the 24th August 2017

 

2. Golders Green Library reopened to the public on the 3rd July 2017                                  The FRA issued on 10th August 20.17

 

3. Osidge Library reopened to the public on the 26th June 2017

The FRA issued on the 16th August 2017

The FRAs when they were produced identified a number of actions for the Council to carry out. The majority of these were described as a

  • “…..a potential contravention of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, or a high risk to Health & Safety from fire”

The deadline for complying with most of these actions was three months from the issue of the FRA.​​

A few of the issues are listed below:

  • Replacing Fire Doors at some with doors with the required level of fire Resistance
  • Fire Refuge Area communication system not working at a number of sites
  • The Emergency Lighting untested at a number of sites
  • No record of the five yearly structural inspection of the external fire escapes at a number of libraries
  • Incomplete Fire Safety signage missing at a number of sites
  • Smoke seals needed for doors at a number of libraries
  • Insufficient numbers of fire extinguisher at one site
  • Fire extinguisher incorrectly mounted at a number of sites
  • Fire door not closing correctly at one library
  • Basement area at one library requiring upgrading to required level of fire resistance
  • Width of staff exit at one site below recommendations
  • Confirmation needed that there is fire separation in the roof void between the library and the commercial use area at one site

Barnet UNISON have been inspecting Libraries to see if the FRA actions have been carried out. In most cases these have not been completed. UNISON have raised this at a number of escalating meetings to the highest level and in our inspection reports.

But no real evidence was presented to Barnet UNISON by the Council that most of the issues had been resolved. Barnet UNISON informed the Council on a number of the occasions that if this continued we would be compelled to contact the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to report our concerns.

Despite this the Council failed to meaningfully respond and with regret Barnet UNISON reported our concerns to the Health and Safety Executive.

The Council have since then provided UNISON with a plan of works to act upon the FRAs but while this is welcome. These action should have been completed months ago.

The Council inaction has in UNISON view being largely caused by various Council/Capita management teams’ failure to take responsibility to have the Fire Risk Assessment in place in good time and to respond in sufficient time to resolve the problems identified in these assessments.

Barnet UNISON do not believe these failures have been due to library staff on site, who have reported these problems according to Council  procedures and to their Trade Union , and who have themselves been put at risk by the Council.

Barnet UNISON will continue in our campaign to make Barnet Libraries safe for our members, all Library staff and the public.

To this end we call on the Council to:

  • Ensure that libraries and other Council buildings have up to date FRAs in place before staff and the public are admitted
  • Act speedily and effectively to comply with Fire Risk Assessments
  • Review the management of Fire Safety arrangements and monitoring within the Council
  • Work with UNISON and other concerned parties in addressing the risks and hazards in identified in Fire Risk Assessments.

Please note: The following services are provided by #Capita:

  • Estates
  • Health and Safety
  • Project Management
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