GOOD NEWS: Update on proposed sacking of “Barnet Two”

Defend the “Barnet Two” update

Today I can confirm that the proposal to sack our only two welfare rights advisors has been suspended.

I will be going in to talks with our members next week.

I want to thank all the council workers who have sent messages of support including solidarity messages from the community and of course BAFTA winner Ken Loach and Ian Hodson President National President Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union BFAWU.

The lesson must be if you don’t challenge decisions then you will never know if you could have made a difference.

I am proud of the “Barnet Two” who despite the incredible stress and pressure they are under have managed to stay positive and focussed. I can see why both of them are excellent Welfare Advisors and why they are a credit to the Council.

Updates will follow.

John Burgess

UNISON rep.

Background links here.

“I am bloody angry”– The Cruellest Cut to Welfare Rights advisors

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2017/04/25/i-am-bloody-angry-the-cruellest-cut-to-welfare-rights-advisors/

URGENT UPDATE “SIMPLY UNBELIEVABLE” Update Welfare Rights

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2017/05/04/simply-unbelievable-update-welfare-rights/

 

 

“Conscious Brutality”

These are the words Ken Loach uses to describe the proposed cuts to our last 2 Welfare Rights Advisors.

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2017/05/04/ken-loach-on-proposed-sacking-of-welfare-rights-advisors/

Shockingly this proposed cut is not about saving money! One of the biggest user groups of the service are those with Mental Health problems.

Of course it’s great that famous people are joining in to break the taboo of talking about Mental ill-health but what is the point if we just then kick these people in the face by removing access to an important service!

In-house, out-house? The Fate of Street Scene

No 2 Outsourcing

Barnet UNISON welcomes the proposal going to the Environment Committee Thursday 11th May at 6.30pm:

“That Environment Committee approves option E as set out in section 1.15 to 1.29 for the Street Scene Delivery Unit services including; recycling and waste, street cleansing, and green spaces maintenance (Lots 1-3) to revert to a full In–House service

That Environment Committee note and agree to the timescale, to revert to a full In–House service as set out in section 1.27, and agree that the Streetscene ADM project has concluded and that an implementation project will now commence”

Please join us in Hendon Town Hall on this historic occasion of watching an in-house model being proposed to our local councillors.

URGENT UPDATE “SIMPLY UNBELIEVABLE” Update Welfare Rights

As a result of consultation we have now learnt that the two welfare rights advisor workers are not being sacked in order to make CUTS, they are being sacked because vulnerable families will get a better service without them!

Before I address the issue of why it is so wrong to sack the Welfare Rights workers I want to highlight this scene in Ken Loach’s BAFTA Award winning film “I, Daniel Blake”

This scene shows the daily humiliating life experiences people in need are facing.

I’m referring to this scene, because the Barnet Council proposal is to move away from helping to sign posting. It sounds good in the highly paid consultancy circle world. BUT the grim reality this is not just a cut for two workers it is a cruel cut that will deny access to the vital information, advocacy and support for the most vulnerable families in Barnet.

Before Barnet UNISON found out that this was NOT a financial saving, we would have referred the Council back to the uncontrollable Agency/consultancy worker costs which have gone from a round £7.3 million in 2012 to 19.8 million by March 2017.

“Why will this proposal cause hard to vulnerable families?”

In the past seven years there have been many changes in the way Advice in the London Borough of Barnet has been delivered.

The following organisations have either closed down or no longer do Welfare Rights Advice.

  1. Welfare Rights Unit (Barnet Council)
  2. Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has closed five of their offices (a) Avenue House (b) Grahame Park (c) Finchley (d) Edgware Hospital (e) Dollis Valley hub. Currently, the New Barnet Office is only open on Mondays morning and is due to totally shut in October 2017. The only remaining CAB is the Hendon one which is also only opened three days a weeks
  3. CAB also used to operate a home visiting service which has also ceased.
  4. Barnet Law Service (Dealt with Welfare Rights Appeals)
  5. Mary Ward Legal Services (Dealt with Welfare Rights Appeals)
  6. East Barnet Advice Services
  7. Disability Action in the Borough of Barnet
  8. Mencap (substantially reduced service since 2013) This service refer to the two Welfare Rights workers for Appeals and complex cases
  9. Jewish Deaf Association Barnet (substantially reduce services now drop in sessions only on Tuesdays morning  for  people with hearing impairment)
  10. Mind Barnet
  11. Due to the Legal Aid cuts no Solicitors in Barnet do Welfare Rights Appeals

The two Welfare Rights workers are the only service that still provides comprehensive/ impartial benefits Advice up to Appeals level in Barnet. Both statutory and non-statutory organisations refer to the two workers. 

In consultation it has been put to Barnet UNISON that the service could be picked up by other organisations. What is clear is that the report does not appear to know what is being provided out there in our community.

Below are some of the organisation mentioned who could pick up the work left as a result of sacking the two welfare rights workers.

  1. Welfare Rights Task Force – Benefit Advisors only support clients affected by the benefit CAP and assist them with income and expenditure in order for them to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment
  2. Employment Advisors do not specialise on welfare benefits, their remit is employment
  3. Shelter specialise in Housing and debts. They do not provide Welfare Rights Advice
  4. DWP is unable to help the majority of our clients as there may be a conflict of interest. We support client in taking cases to the Tribunal against DWP. There would be a conflict of interest, should the DWP provide welfare benefits advice. Welfare Benefit Advice exists to ensure that clients are made aware of their legal rights and represented in the event of disputes and maladministration of benefits.

Next actions:  

Barnet UNISON on Tuesday 9 May at the Family Services JNCC declared a ‘failure to agree’ in response to the proposed sacking of the two welfare rights workers.

The matter has now been escalated to a meeting chaired by the Chief Executive.

If the proposal to sack the workers is not withdrawn the matter will be raised at General Functions Committee on 28 June where we will address the Leader of the Council.

Links:

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2017/05/04/simply-unbelievable-update-welfare-rights/

 

 

 

 

“Outsourcingitus vaccine discovered” by Barnet UNISON

“I am so proud of our branch who have effectively been working round the clock for the last 9 years and to finally have discovered the antidote to this vicious and harmful virus will bring hope to others.  I know from bitter personal experience that “outsourcingitus” is very contagious and damaging to the health and wellbeing of members and to the services this virus feeds off. As many know we had a serious outbreak between 2012- 2014 where a large number of staff were affected as were residents. We intensified our efforts and at one point the branch nearly disappeared completely, incredibly we are still here despite all the odds; which I believe is all down to the dedicated and hardworking Unison reps. Finally I must point out that we are still in the early stages of creating a vaccine, but if anyone out there would like to take part in our trials please do not hesitate to contact the branch. Solidarity.” John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.

 

Barnet UNISON votes to seek lawful national dispute over the School Budget cuts

Support our School Staff members

This Branch Executive Committee notes:

1.    This statement which came out 13 December 2016:

“State schools in England will have to find £3bn in savings by 2019-20, says the public spending watchdog. Schools face 8% budget cuts and about 60% of secondary schools already have deficits, warns a funding analysis from the National Audit Office (NAO).”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-38301843

2.      Our branch has received an unusually large number of requests from schools seeking consultation over redundancies.

3.      The cuts budget is a national agenda which being fought at a local level.

4.      School support staff are often a significant proportion (30-50%) of the membership of UNISON local government branches.

5.      The formation of a new Education trade union which will bring teachers and school support staff into one union.

6.      The disputes by Derby City and Durham UNISON teaching assistants against the imposition of pay cuts through term-time only contracts.

7.      The impressive public support those teaching assistants have received for their strike action.

This BEC believes:

1.    School support staff are particularly vulnerable to redundancies but there is then a knock-on effect for the rest of the school when jobs are cut.

2.    The scale of the problem, the speed of the consultations and the general lack of confidence amongst school support staff means it is incredibly difficult to organise effective, or any resistance to cuts in posts at individual schools as a result of the overall cut in the schools budget.

3.    The cuts budget is a national agenda which should be fought at a national level.

4.    The issue of term-time only pay should be made into a national dispute.

5.    Fighting cuts and defending public services is popular with the public.

This BEC resolves:

1.    To continue supporting and encouraging all and any colleagues fighting job losses and pay cuts on a local level.

2.    To call on UNISON to seek a way of registering a lawful national dispute over the School Budget cuts and begin the mobilisation of all of our members working in schools for a strike ballot.

3.    To call on UNISON to seek urgent talks with sister unions to attempt to coordinate joint national strike action over the School Budget Cuts.

4.    To send this motion to National Local Government conference 2017.

Love UNIONS; Join Barnet UNISON “there’s a lot going on!”

As part of 8‑14 Feb 2017 Heartunions week of action

Barnet UNISON is publishing our calendar of action we have organised for our members and the community we serve.

A big thanks to all of our UNISON reps, officers and our admin for all the work they have done and continue to do for our members.

20 February “1 Day Without Us”

“We want to demonstrate our solidarity for our migrant colleagues”

“By wearing a purple or green ribbon. You can also just wear something green or purple.”

“By taking solidarity selfies of you and your workmates on 20th February”

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/2017.02.02-One-day-without-us-flyer.pdf #20Feb #1DayWithoutUs #BarnetUNISON

 

25 February “Sing Your Heart out 4 NHS”

“Join Barnet UNISON members and our fantastic Barnet residents in a musical message of solidarity for the NHS.”

We can now see what six years of austerity policies has had on the NHS which only recently was described by the Red Cross as a “humanitarian crisis”.

“Listen to Yannis Gourtsoyannis one of the Junior Doctors strikers talk first-hand about the NHS crisis”

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/2017.01.09-Rock-Against-Austerity-flyer-1.pdf #NHS #BarnetUNISON

 

28 February “I Daniel Blake” – Phoenix Cinema – East Finchley

“We are absolutely delighted that our long-time supporter Ken Loach has agreed to join a Q & A with DPAC’s Paula Peters, who will be interviewed by Aditya Chakraborrty senior economics commentator for the Guardian.”

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/barnet_idanielblake_28Feb2017_A4_poster.pdf

#IDanielBlake #BarnetUNISON

 

4 March – National “Save Our NHS” demo – Barnet UNISON

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2017/01/25/barnet-unison-supports-nhs-workers-join-us-4marchnhs/ #NHS #BarnetUNISON

 

7 March Barnet UNISON AGM – Fighting Apartheid to Fighting Austerity  

“I am deeply honoured to have as our grassroots speaker Paul Joseph. Paul born in South Africa, became a political activist in the anti-apartheid movement working closely with Nelson Mandela with whom he was good friends. We are all facing deeply troubling times both in the workplace and our homes and our communities. I strongly recommend our members to make time to attend our AGM and listen to Paul tell his story. Hopefully he will be able to give us some advice as to what we all can do and remain positive in these troubling times.” John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2017/02/03/7-march-barnet-unison-agm-fighting-apartheid-to-fighting-austerity/

#PaulJoseph #Mandela #BarnetUNISON

 

18 March – United Nations “Stand Up to Racism” demo Barnet UNISON

Join the Barnet UNISON banner on what is becoming a seminal demonstration in wake of recent events across the globe.

http://www.standuptoracism.org.uk/national-demo-refugees-migrants-welcome-stand-racism-islamophobia-anti-semitism/ #StandUptoRacism #BarnetUNISON

 

Saturday 25 March “Join the Durham Teaching Assistants in Durham”

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2017/02/03/saturday-25-march-join-the-durham-teaching-assistants-in-durham/

#ValueUs #FightingBack #BarnetUNISON

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