“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

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Barnet Council Group Appeals for school staff

To: Barnet UNISON members working in Barnet Council community schools.

We are currently supporting individual staff in unique roles with their issues.

However there are a number of staff who are in roles which are covered by what are referred to as Group Appeals.

What is a Group Appeal?

This is an appeal for a job where there are a number of post holders such as Teaching Assistant, ICT technician, Nursery Nurse, School Business Manager.

The impact of a Group Appeal directly impacts on all post holders in that role.

Before Barnet UNISON requests an Appeal we will organise meetings and send out invites for members to come along in order we can explain the process.

We have already had a series of successful meetings with Nursery Nurses who provided UNISON with valuable information about the work they do in the classroom. It is important that if you receive a request to attend a UNISON meeting after work that you try to attend one of them.

What is a formal request for an Appeal?

Barnet UNISON will notify Barnet Council to begin the ballot of members about the Appeal. Barnet Council will send a letter to all staff in that specific role asking staff if they support the Appeal request (a simple Yes or No)

It is really important that all members respond immediately that they want the Appeal to go ahead. Barnet UNISON will notify our members the ballot has begun in order we get a high turnout (we need more than 50%)

Just recently UNISON requested an Appeal for Nursery Nurses and we quickly managed to get over 80% of our members all voting YES to supporting our request to take their case to an Appeal Hearing.

What happens in an Appeal Hearing?

The Appeal hearing will be heard by a member of Human Resources (HR) and a Trade Union rep.

Barnet UNISON reps with the support of the Branch Secretary John Burgess will prepare and present the group appeal for our members.

Barnet UNISON will be submitting Stage 2 Appeals for the following roles:

  • Nursery Nurses
  • Teaching Assistants level 2
  • Teaching Assistants level 3
  • Teaching Assistants level 4
  • Breakfast Club/After Club Level 3
  • Mealtime Supervisors

Before Barnet UNISON officially requests the Stage 2 Appeals we need to discuss the grounds with as many of our members as possible.

In order to try and ensure maximum participation we will invite members to attend a number of meetings in the summer term 2017.

If you are in doubt about the process then please do not hesitate to contact the Barnet UNISON office at contactus@barnetunison.org.uk or ring 0208 359 2088 or go onto our website http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/

Download flyer here sCHOOLS leaflet 1

 

NEC election now on!

UNISON National Executive Elections are open now. You should receive your ballot paper in the post. If you do not receive it by April 11th contact the ballot helpline before 25th April on 0800 0857 857. The ballot closes 28th April 5pm.

Members not on the UNISON central membership system on 3 January 2017 will not be eligible to vote in these elections. Only full members are eligible to vote in this election.

This is the highest body of lay representatives in the union. It is the body which holds the union to account and gives it direction. It also scrutinises the union’s business. This is an important election so USE YOUR VOTE.

Our branch has nominated the candidates listed below as we believe these people have shown the most commitment to creating a fighting union and will seek to link disputes rather than leave branches to fight the effects of Austerity politics on their own.

Local Government Seats
Paul Homes – LG General Seat
Paul Gilroy – LG Male Seat
Andrea Egan – LG Female Seat
Jane Doolan – LG Female Seat

Greater London Seats
Sonya Howard – GL Female Seat
Helen Davies – GL Female Seat
Sean Fox – GL Male Seat

National Black Members Seats
April Ashley – Female Seat
Hugo Pierre – Male Seat

Disabled Members Seats
Roger Lewis – General Seat
Pam Howard – Female Seat

Community Seats
Kieran Grogan – General Seat
Janet Bryan – Female Seat

Young Members Seat
Josie Runswick – Young Members Seat

Street Scene ballot result : Massive “In-House” vote – Barnet UNISON

On 15 March 2017, I attended Barnet Councils Environment Committee where an outsourcing decision was to be discussed.

You can view the meeting online here https://youtu.be/Y24Lm5s-afM

In the meeting one councillor referred to a staff consultation in which only 15 out of over 400 staff responded.

The next day Barnet UNISON Street Scene reps decided to carry out our own consultation.

This time we gave Street Scene staff the opportunity to vote for the In-house option something which had been omitted from the consultation.

In just three days we had 279 responses the results were as follows:

243 staff ticked Strongly Support Street Scene Services run fully by In-House staff.

243 staff ticked Strongly Opposed all other options.

1 member of staff ticked Strongly Support Barnet Group running the service and employing all of the staff.

There were 35 spoilt ballot papers.

Now we wait until Thursday 11 May 2017 to hear their fate for our members working in Street Scene.

 

IMPORTANT NURSERY NURSE APPEAL UPDATE

Dear Colleagues

Barnet Council have delivered Appeal Letters to all Level 3 Nursery Nurse, except for staff working in BEYA.

Letters to BEYA staff are being sent today.

I have been informed the letters have been sent to the Head and the letters are being handed out to staff in the school.

It is really important that you respond immediately by ticking the box marked “I AGREE” in favour of the Appeal taking place.

Please make sure you respond immediately back to the Council.

For the Appeal to go forward we need over 50% of the Nursery Nurses to agree.

Once you have submitted your response you do not need to do anything.

Barnet UNISON will inform you of the date of the Appeal and the outcome.

I will be presenting the Appeal on behalf of Barnet UNISON members with the support of some Nursery Nurse UNISON reps.

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

John Burgess

Branch Secretary

Barnet UNISON

 

 

Let us help: Barnet UNISON plea to School Support Staff

You are worth it.

You are entitled to be treated like any other member of staff in your school.

Everyone in a school contributes to a healthy education environment in which children can thrive.

I am making my plea out of frustration.

I have spent the last six months working through outstanding grading appeals and pay issues for Barnet Council workers, but not school staff.

In the last three months I have started on my list of School Support Staff who are in need of support and advice concerning their pay.

The difference in working environments is appalling and unfair. The rest of the Council workforce have been subject to cuts and mass outsourcing, but in relation to their pay and grading the application has been without pressure.

BUT, in schools it is oh so different.

Why must some Schools always refer to budget cuts and letting staff go?

Why do some Schools complain about not being involved when they were?

Why are School Support Staff left to feel that they are wrong to challenge the grade, in most cases they are losing money, and they don’t earn much money anyway.

I have never seen equivalent fear like it in a workplace, grown women and men with huge life experience are sometimes too scared to let the union fight their corner for fear of reprisals.

Barnet UNISON will not be going anywhere and will continue to offer our fullest support for all of our support staff.

If you work in a school and need our help please contact the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

URGENT: Performance Appraisals – UNISON advice

URGENT

Performance Reviews–UNISON advice

Unlike previous years Performance Reviews have taken on a much more serious meaning as the Council has linked your performance to an annual payment.

This means that your Performance Rating will have an impact on your Pay. It is therefore important that all of our members fully understand Performance Reviews.

Did you have a Mid-Year review last year?

“One to one meetings should be held on a regular basis and should be scheduled throughout the year.  These provide the manager and employee with the opportunity to ensure progress is being made against priorities and to ensure that learning and development opportunities are being taken up. A written note of the main issues and decision taken during these meetings should be recorded on the One to One Meetings form.” (Performance Review Scheme Barnet Council.)

Preparing for your Performance Review.

Barnet Councils Performance Review Scheme states:

“Before you begin preparing for your Performance Review, you should make sure you have a copy of your job description, the coming years’ team or service plan, your objectives from last year and your PDP.”

If you are unhappy with your Performance Review please contact the Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

You will need to provide:

  • A copy of your current performance review
  • A copy of last year’s performance appraisal
  • Supporting documentation e.g. emails.

 

Unified Reward Update – Schools 3 March 2017

Dear Barnet UNISON members working in schools please note the following update:

Nursery Nurses (Early Years Educators)

Barnet UNISON will be submitting a group appeal for Nursery Nurses week commencing 6 March. More details will be provided as to what you need to do.

New contracts – Please read

It has come to our attention that staff are being pressurised to sign the contracts. Please note the following:

Last term non-school Barnet Council employees received their new contracts. Most staff had no issues so they signed their contract. There was a smaller group of workers who did have outstanding issues. For these staff UNISON advised that they did not need to sign until the appeal/issue had been resolved. In some cases some staff still signed even though they had an outstanding issue. In which case once their appeal was resolved they received an updated contract.

It is important that members keep a copy of their new contracts somewhere secure.

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

We will be writing to the Council with our member’s questions and will publicise their responses.

UNISON Lead school reps are:

  • Louis Smyth specifically on Monday/Tuesday.
  • Nadia Joseph on Wednesday.

It is really important that if UNISON members do have any issues or concerns they contact the Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

52 Week Teaching Assistants group appeal

I am meeting with the Council negotiating team on Monday 6 March to discuss a proposal which I hope I will be able to discuss with members shortly.

Individual Appeals

I have a list of members who have individual appeals. It is very important that members provide the UNISON office with all documentation, and arrange for a 1:1 meeting with me in order that I can best able to provide you with support. I have been supporting non schools members for the last five months and this process has worked well.

*** If you have sent in an appeal and have not notified UNISON, we will not be able to help. It is very important that you notify the branch if you want the support.

Stage 1 appeals

These meetings are not meant to be stressful for members. They an opportunity for a discussion with the employer, employee and their UNISON rep. In the many other Stage 1 meetings for non-school staff, management have been very supportive of any of their staff who are facing a loss in pay. I have found that the approach taken for non-schools staff has been largely positive for staff. The solution to the loss in pay can often be resolved by exploring a number of different approaches.

I would hope that UNISON members working in schools would expect that they should have the same treatment.

This is why when UNISON members working in schools contact the branch for support, they will be offered a 1:1 meeting with me. I need to read all of your paperwork before I can advise, before we go into the Stage 1 meeting.

Faith & Voluntary aided schools

A number of faith schools are adopting Unified Pay collective agreement. It is important that members make sure they keep our office informed if they have any issues or concerns.

It is really important that if UNISON members do have any issues or concerns they contact the Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

You are invited to

Barnet UNISON AGM on Tuesday 7 March 4pm at Christ Church at Whetstone (Lower Hall) Oakleigh Park, North N20 9AR

 Food and refreshments provided

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