Barnet UNISON Press Release “I have a Jewish neighbour and a Christian neighbour, and they are my brothers.”

At Barnet UNISON we were appalled to hear of the racist abuse being expressed against the planning application for an Islamic Centre at the Hippodrome in Golders Green.

The title of this piece comes from the press officer, Ahmed Al-Kazemi, of the Hippodrome Centre in Golders Green. This is just one comment made to appeal to those who would condemn the opening of the centre as an Islamic Centre on racial grounds.

We welcome and would echo the comments made by Rabbi Mark Goldsmith, of the Golders Green Alyth Reform congregation and Laura Marks, chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust condemning the racism and appealing to a prouder anti-racist tradition.

We also support Barnet Council’s decision to remove all comments relating to this planning application from the public domain on its website.

We celebrate the fact that when the Bravanese Islamic Centre was tragically burnt down a few years ago, the response from all Faiths in the community and people from the broad anti-racist political spectrum was quick in rallying round to support that community and show solidarity.

This is the kind of Barnet we want to belong to.

We would very much like to be a part of a similar response to the racist abuse being levied at the Hippodrome Centre now.

For background information please read these articles:

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/racism-row-over-petition-to-stop-islamic-centre-being-opened-in-golders-green-hippodrome-a3659521.html

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/14/golders-green-hippodrome-mosque-plan-rabbi-urges-calm

https://www.bod.org.uk/board-of-deputies-looks-forward-to-good-relations-with-new-muslim-community-centre-in-golders-green/

 

 

Farewell Bob – RIP

Last week our branch was contacted by members working at Flower Lane Autism Service to say that Bob had passed away in his sleep at the weekend.

I have known Bob for over 20 years he was one of the first UNISON reps I worked with in the old Barnet Social Services department back in the day.

Bob was much loved by his work colleagues and the service users. He was deeply compassionate man who loved his work and the trade union his energy and enthusiasm was infectious. I had the opportunity to witness Bob dealing with very senior managers about serious matters affecting members and I always believed that they found it hard to say no to him. He had that way about him.

Bod was always on hand to take up case work for UNISON members in distress, he didn’t like to see anyone in distress or being bullied he very much wore his heart on his sleeve.

Bob understood the importance of solidarity. He was directly involved in the two big outsourcing fights we had between 1997-2002 over residential and day services for older people and Home Care services. But it was his determination to stop the outsourcing of Learning Difficulties a year later that showed his true grit. This fight went on for over a year and eventually after all the effort the Council decided to keep the services in house. I don’t know if members really understood what Bob did during that time, but I was both honoured and impressed to have worked alongside him.

Over the years I saw less of Bob, but when I did it was if it was only yesterday we had last spoke. I could still see the passion for the job (even though he had retired he came back as an As & When) in his eyes.

I have recently spoken to a few staff who have worked alongside Bob and I understand that this news has really taken everyone one by surprise.

Bob Allan will always be associated with Flower Lane.

He will be sorely missed by staff service users and their carer’s as a kind generous man who gave everything he had to help others.

I am proud to have known Bob, solidarity Bob, Unison member and comrade.

Bob Allan RIP

We want more money for our members

Dear Barnet UNISON members

UNISON Annual Conference is taking place week commencing 20 June 2017.

In may be a surprise to our members who pay their subscriptions that UNISON branches only receive 23% of the money provided by their members.

https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2017/05/24336.pdf

Please note on page 2 of the UNISON REPORT ON THE 2016 FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

It states in Section 6. Funding for Branches and the Regional Pool

“The funding formula agreed at the 2001 Conference came into operation on 1 January 2002. Under the formula at least 23% of subscription income has to be available for direct funding of branches with a further 0.5% available for the direct funding of the regional pool. If the direct funding of branches is not utilised, any balance is credited to the regional pool. Funding available in 2016 was £38.5 million being 23% of subscription income of £163.8 million. In the year £37.7m was credited to branches with the balance of £0.8 million being added to the regional pool.”

So not all of the 23% funding goes to the branches that do almost all of the work for their members.

At UNISON conference the year before on page 2 of the UNISON REPORT ON THE 2015 FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

“The funding formula agreed at the 2001 Conference came into operation on 1 January 2002. Under the formula at least 23% of subscription income has to be available for direct funding of branches with a further 0.5% available for the direct funding of the regional pool. If the direct funding of branches is not utilised, any balance is credited to the regional pool. Funding available in 2015 was £38.9 million being 23.5% of subscription income of £165.8 million. In the year £38.1m was credited to branches with the balance of £0.8 million being added to the regional pool.”

I can report that our branch does need more funding in order that we can build on and improve the services we need to provide to our members.

It is clear that 23% for branches and 77% to UNISON HQ and Regional Offices does not represent the best deal for our members.

The challenges that are driving the need for us to do more to support our members are the brutal austerity policies that are destroying our public services.

We have had six years of austerity, one million public sector workers have been sacked in that time, this equates to 465 public sector workers being sacked every day for the past six years. This figure does not include the millions on zero hours contracts and casualised terms & conditions.

The status quo or tinkering with the funding around the margins is simply not sustainable.

It is our member’s money after all, funding needs to go to the “coalface” where branches are struggling to defend and support our members.

One proposal would be that in light of the austerity attacks all branches should as a minimum receive a third (33%) of their member’s subscription as a starting position whilst a review of the 77% takes place.

We are asking members to provide feedback.

Please email the branch at contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

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

You would think that at my time of life and my experience of cuts that I would become immune to the brutality of Austerity cuts.

But today, my head exploded as I attended a statutory consultation meeting which is proposing to delete the only two welfare benefits advisors we have left in the Council.

I will post greater details about this proposal but needless to say the two staff concerned are highly skilled, motivated and totally committed to advocating for some of the most vulnerable families in our community.

Welfare Benefits is a nightmare to navigate even social workers refer to our welfare benefits advisors as do the few remaining voluntary organisations that are left after a series of cuts to the voluntary sector.

Our two members are providing service to vulnerable families with complex mental health problems. Mental Health appears to be attracting a lot of attention, a lot of warms words, but it is this sort of cut that exposes the words are empty.

The proposals to replace these vital two posts with a ‘Financial Inclusion Coordinator”.

I kid you not that the service is going and this post will sign post vulnerable to services, but the thing is there are no equivalent services for these families.

When Ken Loach refers to “conscious managed cruelty” I think I can understand what he means, who in their right mind in social services would want to do this or even think this is a good idea.

What makes me even angrier is the amount of money this proposal will save is negligible when compared with the amount of money Barnet Council is spending on agency and consultants. Since 2012, spend has risen incrementally from £7.73 million to just under £20 million by 2017.

Read it for yourself here http://reasonablenewbarnet.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/is-anyone-monitoring-capita.html

What about the damage to the families who will no longer receive the support they are currently being provided.

Before anyone says there are other agencies that can provide the same services. No there are not.

This proposal is appalling and must be stopped.

Barnet UNISON and our members will do our utmost to stop this from happening. The benefit system is too complex, there is no other provider we can’t let this cut destroy more peoples lives.

We need to save this service.

You can send messages of support to Barnet UNISON office at contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

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