Barnet UNISON asking for the NSL Parking Service to be suspended during lockdown.

Barnet UNISON statement:

When lockdown was first instigated in March last year the Parking Service was temporarily suspended not just in Barnet but across a number of London Councils.

We are now in a more critical situation in that this latest COVID strain is clearly more transmissible with 1 in 30 Londoners testing positive for COVID.

The London Mayor has stated “We are declaring a major incident because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point. If we do not take immediate action now, our NHS could be overwhelmed and more people will die.”

Our members are genuinely fearful that there is a very real and present risk to themselves and a risk to their families. There is increased risk of contracting COVID when travelling to and from work on public transport and it is widely accepted that there is an increased risk for members of the BAME community. Please note a high proportion of the NSL workforce are from the BAME community

Our members working for NSL are at a loss to understand why the Parking Service which is not an emergency service is carrying on as business as usual.

The spirit of the lockdown appears to be trying to limit the mixing and movement of people to only those services which are critical.

Parking Enforcement is not am essential/critical service.

Barnet UNISON will be organising a zoom meeting for our NSL members and will be reporting back to them as to what I have been doing on their behalf.

We are asking that in light of the mounting pressure on our London Hospitals and NHS staff can the decision to keep Parking Services be reviewed as a matter of urgency?

End.

 

UNISON and NEU point out Government Minister is wrong about legal advice on safety

 

IMPORTANT: This is the joint trade union email sent to all Schools and Leaders. 

 

“Dear XXX

We apologise for writing to you at such a difficult time. We know the intense pressure schools are under, both as a result of Covid-19 and because of the repeated sudden changes in Government policies.

However, yesterday the Department for Education (DfE) e-mailed you about recent advice UNISON and the National Education Union (NEU) gave its members on the safety of face-to-face teaching in schools.

This email followed Gavin Williamson saying in Parliament: ‘I’d like to thank both the National Education Union and UNISON for recognising the fact that the action that they took and the advice that they gave their members on Sunday was incorrect and that they have withdrawn that advice”. Gavin Williamson was simply wrong. At no point have UNISON or the NEU said the guidance and advice to members was incorrect.

That advice was issued before 4 January when Government was directing all schools to remain fully open to all pupils. On the 4 January, Government directed the closure of schools except for the attendance of vulnerable children and those of critical workers. Because of this radical change of Government direction, we removed the advice on section 44 from our websites. But this emphatically does not mean we believe face-to-face work with full or near full classes in schools is safe in the current circumstances – far from it. Neither does the removal of this advice from our websites indicate that we do not believe it was the right advice to give at the time.

Contrary to the impression given by the DfE circular, the existence of the new strain of the virus greatly exacerbates the serious risks to the health and safety of those working in schools. It is irrelevant that the new strain of the virus may not cause more serious illness in those children or adults who are infected by it. The increase in risk arises from the fact that the new strain is highly transmissible, between 50-74% more transmissible than pre-existing variations of Covid-19, according to London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The historic data on infection rates among teachers referred to by the DfE fails to capture the greatly increased threat arising from the new strain.

It is because of the new strain that infection rates and the R number have dramatically increased since December. It was precisely because of the “increase in risk associated with the new variant” that SAGE recommended closing schools as part of a strategy of strengthening control measures at its meeting on 22 December. That is why the Government finally decided to close schools to most pupils; and that is why school staff faced a greater risk of catching Covid-19 than they did before. This is, or should be, obvious to the DfE and Government.

In that light, is completely inadequate for the DfE to assert that the existing controls in school “create an inherently safer [sic] environment for children, young people and staff” and that the “way to control this virus is the same, whatever the variant”. Members who work in schools have a right to work in a safe working environment, and workers who reasonably believe they are facing serious and imminent danger have the right to leave the workplace. The effect of those rights must be fundamentally reassessed owing to the greater risk of transmission posed by the new variant of Covid-19. The same applies to the existing control measures adopted in schools.

We only summarise the relevant legal provisions below. The key point is that all these legal duties must now be viewed in circumstances where Covid-19 is much more transmissible than it was before owing to the new strain.

  • Schools owe duties under s 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their employees. This includes a duty to provide work systems and work environments which are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risk to health. Schools owe similar duties to others, who are not in their employment, under s.3 of the Act.
  • Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers must undertake a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to health and safety affected by the conduct of the employer’s undertaking. The risk assessment must be reviewed whenever there is a “significant change in the matters to which it relates”. The new strain of Covid-19 triggers this duty.
  • Employers must establish appropriate procedures which enable employees to leave or stop work if they are exposed to serious, imminent and unavoidable dangers.
  • Measures for controlling risks to health and safety must be adopted in accordance with a hierarchy of measures set out in Schedule 1 to the 1999 Regulations. The primary duty is “avoiding risks”, followed by “evaluating risks which cannot be avoided” and then “combating the risks at source”. All these duties point towards avoiding face-to-face teaching and teaching on-line given the high risk of transmission posed by the new strain.
  • While there is a duty to provide suitable PPE to those who are exposed to risks to health and safety, this is only intended as a last resort, where a “risk has not adequately been controlled by other means”.
  • Schools owe duties to assess risks and to protect employees against exposure to biological agents, such as the new strain of Covid-19, under the COSSH Regulations 2002.
  • Employers must inform and consult with safety representatives under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations 1977 (and the linked regulations where no union is recognised) on all matters to do with health and safety. This should include consultation on the appropriate steps to take in light of the risks posed by the new strain of Covid-19.
  • Finally, under sections 44 and 100 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, employees are protected from detriment or dismissal where there exist circumstances of danger which they reasonably believe to be serious and imminent, and they leave or propose to leave, or otherwise refuse to return to their place of work. There are also protections under these provisions for those who take appropriate steps to protect themselves or others in circumstances which the employee reasonably believes amounts to a serious and imminent danger., These rights remain very relevant to those engaged in face-to-face work in schools, especially in light of the new strain of Covid-19. Employees must not be subjected to any disadvantage, such as deductions from pay, where they exercise these rights.

We hope that that this makes our position clear and corrects the impression given by the e-mail from the DfE.

Finally we would like to show our appreciation for the work of our sister head teachers unions NAHT and ASCL during this difficult period. We have shared this letter with them and know that they are as exasperated with the Government as you are.

 

 

URGENT: All Barnet UNISON members meeting Weds 6 Jan at 6.30 pm

Dear Barnet UNISON members

Things are changing so quickly and the rate of infection extremely worrying as are the increasing number of deaths from COVID.

UNISON has already responded to the clear and present danger in the schools workplace which has seen many of our members send in section 44 letters to their employers.

You can read about these letters here on our website http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2021/01/03/important-update-for-barnet-unison-members-in-schools/

Barnet UNISON sincerely hopes you all had the best and most relaxing time possible over the Christmas break considering the circumstances. It has certainly not been made easy by the Government.

We have continued to be exposed to one last minute decision after another and with dubious positive effect on keeping infection rates low as they are all botched jobs. Anxieties have gone through the roof and we are all running around trying to pick up the pieces. Some pieces remain sadly permanently broken. We are offering this zoom meeting to all our members to get a sense of how each employer is handling the latest crisis and offering our advice.

Our nursery schools have shown that our front line members can bring about the change which is needed to keep communities safe.

It is worth noting how different this all could have been. Two weeks before the Christmas break the German Government could see the direction of travel of the infection rates. They decided to cut their losses and gave a full half week notice of a total lockdown to start one week before the Christmas break and which would continue for one week after the Christmas break. This was disappointing for its citizens but at least they then knew exactly what they were dealing with and could PLAN!

We want to be able to support all of our members regardless of which employer you work for.

We want to know if you are well and if you feel safe at work.

Our all members UNISON meeting is on Wednesday 6 January 2021 6:30 pm.

Joining details for UNISON Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84128587345?pwd=UVZNelIzaGh4bEVKQ2F3Q2E1NFFiUT09

Meeting ID: 841 2858 7345

Passcode: 902996

 

 

Important update for Barnet UNISON members in schools.

Dear Member

UNISON National has responded to widespread calls for advice for all of our members working I schools, nurseries and early years settings.

The draft email below is for members to send to their Head Teacher.

Please copy in Barnet UNISON when you send in the email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Model letter for UNISON members in schools, nurseries and early years in England

 

Dear [insert name of head/employer],

Re: Health & Safety

I am writing to you following the increase in transmission and infection rates currently recorded across England.

You are, I am sure, aware that you have legal duties to protect the health, safety and welfare of your staff and pupils. Those duties arise under the following legislation: –

  • Sections 2 and 3 of the Health & Safety Act 1974
  • Regulations 3 and 8 of the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • Regulation 4 of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
  • Regulation 4 of the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992
  • Regulation 7 of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

The most recent advice from SAGE is that schools should not open in January[1] other than for children of key workers and vulnerable children. This is because the scientific advice is that it is not safe for schools to open. There are new variants of Covid-19 that are highly infectious and infection rates have increased significantly since schools closed.

I appreciate that measures have been in place since September to allow the school to open but according to SAGE those measures may no longer be sufficient. They state in their most recent report: –

The introduction of Tier 4 measures in England combined with the school holidays will be informative of the strength of measures required to control the new variant but analysis of this will not be possible until mid-January.

Based on the above I do not believe that it is safe for me to return to [insert name of school].

If I do attend [name of school] I believe that this will present a serious and imminent danger to my health and safety.

I am therefore writing to inform you that I am exercising my contractual right not to attend an unsafe place of work. I believe that not attending work in the current circumstances is an appropriate step for me to take for the following reasons:

  1. The dangers that are preventing me from attending work are the risk of contracting coronavirus and or spreading coronavirus to others.
  2. The person(s) I am seeking to protect are myself, my family, our pupils, their families, my colleagues, their families and members of the public.

 

  1. I believe that this danger is serious because coronavirus infection is potentially fatal and has already resulted in more than 73,512 deaths in the UK with a significant up surge in recent weeks.

 

  1. I believe that, if I were to attend work, the danger would be imminent because before Christmas the highest infection rates were in children of school age, and the new variant may be more transmissible amongst students than previously.

 

  1. I will be happy to return to the workplace once SAGE is satisfied that the R rate has decreased, scientific advice has been produced on safety measures required to make schools more “Covid secure”, risk assessments have been updated and any necessary further safety measures implemented.

 

In the meantime, I am of course willing to carry out any of my duties or alternative agreed duties at my grade that can be undertaken from my home, and to be in school supporting provision and the learning of key worker and vulnerable children where necessary.

Yours sincerely,

[1] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/948606/s0991-sage-meeting-74-covid-19.pdf

 

Important:

Please note this advice applies to all primary schools, special schools, SEND and early years settings in England.

You can read the advice in full on the UNISON website here

https://www.unison.org.uk/january-schools-advice/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2%20Jan%20branch%20email&utm_source=Education&utm_content=Advice%20for%20members

 

 

 

 

Breaking News: Emergency Schools Zoom meeting for our members

Dear member

No surprisingly anxieties are running high with respect to the opening of schools etc from Monday morning.

We have a Government insistent on exposing workers to high risk of COVID to save face.

Nonetheless workers are wondering what they should do for the best.

The one thing we can offer is a safe space for colleagues to discuss their options and decide for themselves what they want to do.

I appreciate not everyone will be able to join in this zoom meeting but at least if we offer this early on in the day it gives an opportunity to contact others if we want to or need to.

Happy New Year everyone and see whoever can make our zoom meeting Sunday 3 January 2021 at 11am,

Solidarity

Barnet UNISON is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: BEYA TU zoom meeting

Time: Jan 3, 2021 11:00 AM London

Join Zoom Meeting details below.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87042293661?pwd=cE5Qbng3bHlyb1hlaERaMHlLa211dz09

Meeting ID: 870 4229 3661

Passcode: 481058

Breaking News: Monthly sessions with Payroll starts February 2021.

Dear Members

Barnet UNISON has had too many cases of members contacting us about payroll issues.

It is really important that you get the correct pay for the work you have done.

One of the biggest issues is understanding the pay slips.

I am pleased to announce that Street Scene are introducing monthly sessions with Pay roll.

These sessions will be run by the Capita HR Payroll Team.

The first session will take place on 10 February in the Pacific Room between 12:00pm and 14:00pm by appointment only.

The sessions will be for individuals to speak directly to payroll via a private video call.

Appointments will be available in 15 minute slots.

How to book a session?

You can book a session in advance by:

  • Requesting via your supervisor
  • Provide them your details, and
  • Provide them with any information you can about the question or issue you want to discuss.

Your supervisor will then make your booking on your behalf and let you know the time.

Now is the time to make sure you take up this opportunity to get answers to some of the questions you have about your pay and your pay slip.

If you want a UNISON rep with you please let us know what time your session is booked in order we can sit down with you in the meeting.

Telephone 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Solidarity

John Burgess

Branch Secretary

Barnet UNISON

 

 

 

Update: Barnet Council responds to Coach Escorts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Members

In response to my email to the Chief Executive and the signed statement by the majority of the coach escorts I have had the following response which I want to share with you all.

 

Briefing on the change of line-management of SEN Passenger Assistants

It has been agreed to transfer the line-management of SEN Passenger Assistants from Streetscene to the Transport Brokering Team in the BELS SEND and Inclusion service with effect from 1 January 2021.  The transfer is intended to achieve service improvements while also delivering management efficiency savings over time.

 

The decision will lead to improvements in the service as a result of closer integration with other SEN teams and better communications which will be of benefit to pupils with special educational needs, their parents/carers, schools and the passenger assistants themselves.  It will also enable BELS to deliver savings of £209,000 in 2021-22 rising to £229,000 in 22-23, as a result of management efficiencies.

 

In order to make the transfer as smooth as possible and to avoid any disruption or concerns about this leading to changes in terms and conditions for staff, it was decided that the staff should remain council employees and to commission BELS to provide line management for the service and to give them direct control of the staffing budget.

 

Staff will remain on LBB terms and conditions and there is no plan to change this.  No redundancies are envisaged.  It is not unusual to commission delivery partners to manage council staff.  BELS already managed the headteacher of the Virtual School, who is employed by the council (a legal requirement) and she in turn manages the staff of the Virtual School who are employed by BELS.  The Education Prevent Officer is employed by the council and managed by the BELS Safeguarding and Exclusions Manager.  The head of the Transport Brokering Team in BELS reports directly to the Director, SEND and Inclusion, who is on a joint contract with the council and BELS (on account of some of the functions she exercises being non-contractable).  BELS is a company wholly owned by the council.

 

Management of PAs by the SEN transport brokering team will provide a more streamlined conversation between the SEN teams, PAs, schools and parents about the needs of individual children and young people and how best to meet them and thus how to manage any safety and wellbeing issues.  The transfer will mean greater consistency of approach/strategies used by all the adults who support children and young people with very complex needs, with PAs being part of the SEN team.

 

The transfer will enable closer working with schools and settings, so that information about individual children can be readily shared with PAs.  This could include advice on behaviour management for individual children, as well as notifying the SEN Transport brokering team and the PAs of short or long-term changes in the child’s circumstances, including changes in health conditions.

The transfer will also lead to better planning and resilience for covering sickness and absence, which in turn will reduce the number of cancellations that have occurred during service delivery.  It will mean a rapid response to passengers’ issues, as the Brokering team will now have direct contact with the PAs, without having to go through a middle tier of PTS management, which has sometimes resulted in delays in response times and complaints from frustrated parents.

PAs will be able to access direct support and advice from specialist staff in BELS concerning individual children.  All the children and young people being transported and supported by PAs will be known to specialist Advisory Teachers and Educational Psychologists, who will be able to give advice on strategies to support the child. In effect, the Passenger Assistant will become a member of a ‘virtual team’ of adults working together to support the child, resulting in a holistic approach.

As the Brokering Team undertakes the risk assessment for SEN passengers, having the LBB PAs within their management control will lead to better understanding of requirements for PAs, ensuring the correct support and outcomes are achieved. 

IH/HP 10.12.20. “

 

On 16 December I emailed BELS to ask for a copy of the plans in place to ensure that all staff have adequate PPE for all coach escorts when schools reopen in January 2020.

I want to send my best wishes to all of our members working for Passenger Transport and can assure you all that next year Barnet UNISON will be looking out for our members.

BreakingNews: Will Barnet Council close schools early ?

Hi Ian

I am writing to you in your statutory role to ask if you are aware of the Greenwich Council decision which has appeared online this afternoon?

I attach a copy of the letter sent out to all Greenwich schools by the Leader of Greenwich Council.

Please note he states:

“I have asked all Schools in Greenwich to close their premises from Monday evening and move to online learning for the duration of term, with the exception of key worker children and those with specific needs (exactly the same as the first lockdown).”

Throughout the pandemic we have been advised that Barnet Council are working in line with London Councils. I am assuming this decision has been subject to some discussions with London Councils?

Given the increased likelihood of London going into Tier 3 and perhaps the 23 – 28 December initiative being limited for people living in London is Barnet Council going to try to mitigate the spread by following their lead?

I will be writing to over a thousand plus UNISON members working in Barnet Schools most of which are frightened at the increasing likelihood that there will be more infections in the last week of school and the negative impact it will have on their families.

Stay safe.

Best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary.

Barnet UNISON

0208 359 2088

www.barnetunison.me.uk

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Barnet UNISON Facebook

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UNISON Financial Assistance for members https://cutt.ly/IhYlXD0

Need Support For Your Mental Health At Work

STAY AT HOME PROTECT THE NHS SAVE LIVES

Not a member? Join Today at http://unison.org.uk/recruitment/  or by contacting the Branch Office 0208 359

2088

 

Update on the Barnet UNISON Term Time Pay Campaign

Dear members,

Firstly, I hope you, your family and friends are keeping well and have been coping through this protracted period of anxiety and isolation caused by Covid19.

Owing to the virus, Barnet UNISON’s work regarding the term-time pay dispute was temporarily curtailed. This impacted my job as campaign organiser.

I am pleased to tell you that I am now able to resume my union role.

Barnet UNISON remains committed to trying to gain the best possible outcome for all members who have been discriminated against as a result of the incorrect formula being used to calculate your pay.

Many of you have already completed and submitted a hard copy of the CASE form that we have passed on to the union’s solicitors who are dealing with this collective grievance.

There are, however, lots of members who did not respond to our previous communications or complete a form.

This may be because I was unable to secure a meeting in your school prior to lockdown owing to a lack of response from school management. Our branch Secretary, John Burgess, sent letters to all Head Teachers and members but we did not receive responses from everyone. In addition, growing concerns around the virus began to interrupt my work towards the end of February.

Action Plan:

  • The branch will commence a series of regular monthly updates on the campaign so please check your emails.
  • I will be making as much contact with members as I can to advise and guide you, and help you submit a CASE form to our solicitors.
  • Your particular school may have already rectified the formula and back-dated pay for a specific period of time. If this applies to you please let me know.
  • Accepting any changes to your pay does not in itself prohibit you from submitting a claim. However, we advise you against signing anything until you have sought advice from UNISON.

There is no guarantee that the branch will win exactly what we aim for on your behalf but there is strength in numbers. The more members who decide to make a claim as part of the collective grievance, the greater our chances of success.

I am unlikely to be able to visit any schools for the foreseeable future because of the rules regarding gatherings and social distancing. Now is, therefore, the time for you to organise yourselves. Please consider acting as a workplace convenor or co-convenor with one of your colleagues.

We have created a streamlined CASE form for completion online. You simply need to populate it and return as an attachment by email. I will be sharing detailed guidance on this soon. Please note, we are now unable to process paper copies of the form as we are not operating from the branch office.

If you require any further advice prior to the next communication from the branch, you can email me.

Take care & stay safe.

Kind Regards

Nadia Joseph

Term Time Pay Organiser

Barnet UNISON

contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

 

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