Good News: Street Scene service moving out of Harrow depot

Barnet UNISON will never understand how a major strategic decision like moving the Council depot was made without a viable option was available to the Council frontline services.

What happened was a classic fudge/ad hoc/make do. To put it simply it has been a disaster.

The Waste and Recycling and Street Cleansing services were split between the new depot in Oakleigh Road South and London Borough of Harrow depot.

Not only was it bad operationally it was expensive and the ongoing costs have been a constant strain on the service.

The Gritting service was also moved to Harrow and we all know what happened when we had a bad winter two years ago despite the heroic efforts of the workforce to try and make it work.

It was never going to work. The staff across all services have tried their best to make it work. The fact that staffing budgets were also cut simply added to the problem. .

What didn’t help and still doesn’t help is seeing that the Capita contracts have cashed in to the tune of £438 million since the contract started which is £165.6 million more than the contract value. Try explaining that to workers whose pay or pensions has been messed up by Capita or to the staff working at Oakleigh who have seen their branch new depot splitting like it has been hit by a minor earth quake.

What is the good news?

The good news is that the Brogans site which has been empty for a long time has been secured by Barnet Council.

This means the whole of the Waste and Recycling service is now running out of Oakleigh Depot. However we are still running Street Cleansing out of Harrow which means we are still paying rent on the Harrow site and now the Brogans site.

Depot Building works

The depot has some serious problems the subsidence has split the road and there appears to be real risk of a landslide which is something that has happened in the past. This risk was clearly sufficiently serious for the Council to arrange for buildings works to begin sometime in November this year.

Rounds changes.

As a result of the major building works at the depot there is an impact on the Bin collection service. Barnet Council has written to residents about the changes.

It is disappointing that the changes had not been run by the drivers. This mistake was made with the previous Bin collection changes.

There is nothing we can do now.

It remains to be seen if the proposed changes will work.

BREAKING NEWS: Barnet Homes announce termination of outsourced Mears Housing repairs service and domestic gas service

BREAKING NEWS: Barnet Homes announce termination of outsourced Mears Housing repairs service and bring back domestic gas service

The following announcement was made to all Barnet Homes staff on Wednesday, 9 October 2019

“From 1 April 2020, the Barnet Homes repairs service, currently provided by contractors Mears, will be brought in-house. This means that Barnet Homes will be responsible for repairs in tenants’ homes, refurbishing void properties and repairs to communal parts on our estates.

The domestic gas service will continue to be managed by Mears until 1 October 2020, when it will also be transferred into Barnet Homes and run as an in-house service.”

“This is fantastic news. Housing repairs was one of the first contracts to be outsourced by Barnet Homes. Housing repairs is a critical service and should not have ever been outsourced. Housing repairs was originally delivered by Barnet Council (and should return back there) after which it was first outsourced to Barnet Homes then sold off to Connaughts which became bankrupt. The service was handed on to Lovells and finally to Mears. Looking after council tenants needs to be under the direct control of the Council. This is a welcome first step to that end. The role of Council Housing needs to be seen just as important as Family Services in addressing the brutality of child poverty. All Councils must learn lessons from Grenfell and accept Housing is a human right and as such should be provided directly by the Council.” John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.

Homeless: Barnet UNISON quest to find an office

Dear Members

Since the formation of Barnet Council in 1965 there has always been an office for our members to visit and meet with their reps first when it was NALGO and now Barnet UNISON.

Barnet UNISON has moved a few times over the last decades. We were based in an old mortuary in Hendon until the Council moved services “lock, stock and barrel” to North London Business Park (NLBP).

We remained in NLBP until the Council began its new accommodation strategy.

We were moved to Barnet House and we are still here.

It is really important for our members that they have access to their trade union.

Currently we have large numbers of members at Oakleigh Road depot, NLBP, Colindale.

Over the last 12 months we have been in discussions with the Council to find suitable accommodation that is accessible and provides confidentiality.

Why are we not at Colindale?

The set up in Colindale is open plan and the Council were unable to secure an enclosed office where we could meet, greet and discuss issues with our members. It is important that members are able to access Barnet UNISON without others knowing.

Subsequently we have been looking at some other properties. Originally we were going to return to Building 2 NLBP for a limited amount of time but that has not materialised.

Time is running out.

At the moment we are still in Barnet House because the building is still open for Housing Needs service which has not moved to Colindale. At some point Barnet House will be closed and we will be out on the streets hence the need to find something suitable.

We are still hoping to find a solution with the Council but we need to be prepared for potentially being homeless.

How you can help?

We are calling on all members to keep a look out for anywhere they think might be suitable for a Barnet UNISON office.

It’s important that members understand that the branch does not have funding for an office and therefore any costs would have to be taken out of our existing budget. This is a real concern because we have a large and diverse membership and we struggle to live within our budget each year. We will of course be contacting our union to ask if they are able to provide extra funding for accommodation and we will report back to our members the outcome of that request.

 

Important Announcement: John Burgess Branch Secretary

Important Announcement: John Burgess Branch Secretary

Dear Members

Our Branch Secretary John Burgess is currently off sick and at this time we are unable to say when he will return.
The reason for this announcement is to alert members that our resources are reduced at this time as we do not have any resources to cover his absence.
We are working hard to prepare a plan by which we can ensure that are still able to support all of our members regardless of their employer.
If you are in need of support please make sure you ring the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

We are asking all of our reps to call into the office is you feel able to offer some support to the branch.

I am sure all of our members would want to wish John a speedy recovery.

The Branch Meeting on 4th September at 12.30pm in Colindale Conference Suite 1, will still be taking place. 

Thanks,

Helen Davies
Branch Chair
Barnet UNISON

Lest we ever forget the million pound plus fraud committed by a Capita employee

Below is an extract from a report submitted to

Audit Committee 17 July 2018 


Corporate Anti-Fraud Team (CAFT) Annual Report 2018/19

(Source: https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s52410/Appendix%201%20CAFT%20Annual%20Report%201st%20April%202018%2031st%20March%202019.pdf )

2018-19 saw CAFT officers investigate and prosecute an unprecedented internal financial fraud. In Response to his officer resource was diverted from all sections within the team to deal with the investigation. The case was given the name Operation Rouble which subsequently proved to be the most challenging, complex and substantial fraud that Barnet has experienced.

  • The fraud related to two offences of ‘abuse of position’ which were committed by a Capital Investment Manager, employed by Capita and working for Regional Enterprise. The offender created instructions for CHAPS payments in excess of £2 million to be processed in relation to fictitious compulsory purchase orders.
  • The CAFT were notified in December 2017 and utilised their financial investigators powers to obtain tangible evidence which resulted in the offender being arrested and suspended within 24 hours of the investigation being initiated.
  • The criminal aspect of the investigation was evidenced and prepared for prosecution within five months which subsequently led to the successful conclusion of the case in July 2018 which saw the offender being sentenced at Harrow Crown Court to 5 years imprisonment.
  • CAFT has carried on the financial investigation and continues to do so in order to ensure all proceeds of crime are identified and recovered accordingly
  • CAFT has also worked closely with Internal Audit and Finance in relation to recommendation from the external review of financial controls and the ongoing audit testing relating to financial controls.
  • CAFT jointly conducting a payments data analytics exercise with Internal Audit in order to identify irregularities and/or make recommendations for improvement.

Further details of the investigation can be found in the noteworthy investigation section, and full details of the external review into financial control conducted by Grant Thornton is available on the council’s website Financial controls https://www.barnet.gov.uk/citizen-home/council-and-democracy/finance-and-funding/Financial-controls.html


12 months later at Policy and Resources Committee 17 June 2019 Barnet Council decided to keep both Capita contracts largely untouched with a review sometime in the future. 

 

 

Don’t Sign The Survey: Don’t Give Up Your Rights at Work

Dear Member

I am writing to you because Barnet Council has issued a staff survey without any consultation with Barnet UNISON.

Why we are asking our members not to complete the survey.

Barnet UNISON believes that Street Scene workers should be treated equally with all other Council workers.

This survey has clearly been designed to undermine your Terms and Conditions.

If the Council wants to discuss any changes to your hours, your pay, your sick pay, your annual leave, your training, your health and safety then they should discuss this with your union.

Before signing anything you have the right to consult with your union.

If it is good enough for other Council workers it should be good enough for Street Scene workers.

For example here are some of the questions they are asking.

As a Barnet employee which of the following is the MOST important to you? (Tick one option)

☐ 30 days Annual Leave

☐ Paid Sick Leave

As a Barnet employee which of the following is the MOST important to you? (Tick one option)

☐ Training on Saturdays

☐ 30 days Annual Leave

As a Barnet employee which of the following is the MOST important to you? (Tick one option)

Training on Saturdays

☐ Paid Sick Leave

We have written to the Chief Executive asking for this survey to be pulled.

Best wishes
John Burgess

Branch Secretary

Barnet UNISON

Victims of the Outsourcing Nightmare

“I don’t know if I have the strength to apply for jobs again. I love my job. I love working here. I’m good at doing what I do. I’d made plans around this being a secure job.” 

These are sorts of things colleagues facing redundancy in Children’s Centres are saying, usually through a veil of tears.

Remember this photo?

North London Business Park, New Southgate.
Unison members go on strike over pay and conditions at Barnet Council.
Jeremy Corbin MP also made a visit to show his support.
08/07/15
Anne-Marie Sanderson.

It shows Coppetts Wood Childrens Centre workers on the picket line 2015 joining all members in the fight against outsourcing.

The last 3-4 weeks Barnet UNISON has seen one Children’s Centre worker after another in tears. They are being made redundant as Barnet Council cut its budget to school’s based Children’s Centres by £½ million. This has meant that Fairway, Coppetts Wood, Bell Lane and Barnfield Children’s Centres have around 1/3 sliced from their budget. 

Many of these colleagues have been working for Barnet between 10-20 years offering valuable support to vulnerable families and their young children.

But they have done more than this. They have given solidarity to the branch and our members. Coppetts Wood most recently joined our protest about the fire alarms in Barnet House. 

Children’s Centre Staff urgently need your solidarity and support – something they have so readily shared with us.

Please send the branch your thoughts for us to pass on to these workers and come to the Capita Enquiry.

Waste & Recycling Round restructure questions

Barnet UNISON has conducted our own consultation with members about the new round restructure.

We have asked senior management to respond to the questions raised by UNISON members working in Waste and Recycling below:

1. How many vehicles do we currently have available for the new round restructure?

2. How many refuse rounds will there be in the new round restructure and what is the staffing numbers?

3. How many recycling rounds will there be in the new round restructure and what is the staffing numbers?

4. How many Trade rounds will there be in the new round restructure and what is the staffing numbers?

5. How many green waste rounds will there be in the new round restructure and what is the staffing numbers?

6. Currently the Hazard vehicle round operates three days a week. Will it still be operating and what are the crew numbers?

7. Impact Vehicle (IPV) currently operates three days a week what is the plan for this service?

8. Will there still be a Bin delivery and if so what are the staffing numbers?

9. How many shunt vehicles will be available on a daily basis?

10. What rounds will be getting shunts?

11. What is the estimated down time for shunts?

12. How many spare vehicles do we have?

13. What are number of locations per round?

14. How many bins and size per location?

15. Please provide the mileage walked by loaders per round?

16. How will flat refuse be collected?

17. How will flat recycling be collected?

18. What are the days for each postal district?

19. How are the locations with more than one collection day be collected?

20. Will there be maps provided for each new round?

21. When will public be informed?

22. When will staff be consulted and be informed about their round?

23. What are the contingency plans in the event of failure to collect?

24. What is the plan for the ever growing number of new developments to be incorporated into the new round?

25. Will agency staff still be used?

26. What are the estimated travelling times for each round to and from depots to the prescribed five postal districts?

27. What are the estimated tipping times from each area to Hendon or Edmonton?

28. Will black sacks be used, if so who will deliver them?

29. Where access for large vehicles is prohibited how far are staff expected to pull bins from bin areas to vehicle?

30. Have risk assessment’s been done for each new round?

31. Have Round Descriptions been completed for each new round?

32. Will the Round Descriptions include the presence potential hazards and restrictions such as;

  • Parked Vehicles
  • Narrow Lanes
  • Steep Slopes
  • Pedestrian usage
  • Schools/Care Homes and other buildings that may present increase risk, hazards or restrictions Poor Lighting or Visibility

33. Will the Round Descriptions include the nearest locations of:

  • Public/Staff Accessible Toilets
  • Hospitals
  • Nearest refuelling point (in case of emergency)

34. Have the rounds been walked and tested?

35. What is current overall capacity in tonnage for each existing refuse round per day?

36. What is the overall capacity expected in tonnage for each new refuse round per day?

37. What is current overall capacity in tonnage for each existing flat refuse round per day?

38. What is the current overall capacity in tonnage for the existing food waste round per day?

39. What is the current overall capacity in tonnage for RATS/FLASH collection rounds per day?

40. What is the current overall tonnage for each existing recycling round per day?

41. What is the overall capacity expected tonnage for each new recycling round per day?

42. What is the current overall tonnage for the food waste collected by the recycling rounds per day?

44. What is current overall tonnage for all (mid-week and Saturday collection) flat recycling rounds?

45. What is the current overall tonnage for each existing refuse restricted access round per day?

46. What is the current overall tonnage for each existing recycling restricted access round per day?

47. Currently we have restricted access rounds. How will the new round collection service address restricted access to locations?

48. What is the current overall tonnage of the Saturday green waste rounds?

49. Will the crews be alternated between refuse and recycling each week?

 

Barnet UNISON branch meetings September 2018

Dear Barnet UNISON member

It is important that our members are fully briefed as possible about what is happening in Barnet Council. We have organised a series of 8 branch meetings  throughout the month of September in order to discuss and to take questions.

Here is the agenda for all of the meetings.

  1. Capita contracts
  2. Barnet Council Finances.
  3. Fire Safety.
  4. Move to Colindale.
  5. Sick Pay deductions in Barnet Council
  6. Any other business

Please find time to join one of the meetings to held on:

Wednesday 5 September 12noon Committee Room 2, Barnet House

Thursday 6 September 12.30pm Central Room, Building 4, NLBP

Wednesday 12 September 12.30pm Committee Room 1, Barnet House

Friday 14 September 1pm Central room, Building 4, NLBP

Thursday 20 September 12.30pm Room G2, Building 2, NLBP

Friday 21 September 12.30pm Committee room 1, Barnet House

Tuesday 25 September 1pm Central room, Building 4, NLBP

Thursday 27 September 12.30pm Committee room 2, Barnet House

 

 

 

1 2 3 10