I have for some time been in discussions with HR regarding the implementation of a Dress Code for all Barnet Homes employees. The intention is for all employees, not just those meeting our residents, to adopt a code of dress to be enforced by managers.
There have been more than one draft and I have failed to agree on any of them for reasons such as culture, personal choice, cost – in the present climate and the fact that we are presently going through desperate times when there isn’t even job security and redundancies are imminent.
Although we would all agree on cleanliness and having regard to health and safety I do not see the benefit in prohibiting jeans, t shirts and some ‘military style clothing’ all of which in this day and age are not necessarily unprofessional.
I have now agreed with HR that managers will be discussing this policy with their staff at team meetings
It is now for you all to provide your feedback in team meetings and let your voice be heard.
UNISON Convenor for Barnet Homes
Apologies Future Shape has been off air for the last five weeks.
To view click here
Professor Dexter Whitifeld will be speaking about Phase Two of the Future Shape programme.
To view details click here
What is going on in Phase Two?
On Friday 16 January you may have received an email from the Chief Executive asking staff to volunteer to become involved in shaping Barnet’s Future?
There are seven working groups
1. Future Shape – Barnet Strategy
2. Future Shape – Barnet Access
3. Future Shape – Barnet Assessment
4. Future Shape – Barnet Property
5. Future Shape – Barnet Support
6. Future Shape – Barnet Transact
7. Future Shape – The Vehicle
These groups relate to this model outlined in the 3 December Cabinet Committee paper
So what do the Trade Unions recommend?
We asked for staff/trade union forums in our first Briefing in September 2008.
So, yes we would want to staff to in their words “debate and help create the Barnet of tomorrow.”
However, it appears the Council do not want to talk to the trade unions.
On 17 December we were told the Council would no longer fund our consultant Dexter Whitfield. We wrote back on 18 December asking them to reconsider the decision to withdraw funding.
On 6 January 2009 we received an email saying they would be in touch in due course.
On Friday 16th January the Acting Chief Executive sent out an email to all staff about Future Shape.
To date we have heard nothing.
Considering the serious implications of Future Shape for Barnet Council staff and services the Joint Trade Unions have formally requested a special committee meeting with councillors.
Look out for further updates………
I hope everyone had a good holiday and I hope we all get at least something of what we want and need next year!
Those in Adult Social Services will be aware of the major restructuring taking place there. Since late November we have been incredibly busy working on the 11 new Role Profiles covering well over 100 staff members at all grades. I’ve held meetings with most staff groups to go over the Role Profiles and points raised have been forwarded to the management team at our consultation meetings. Many points have been taken on board but some key concerns remain:
– Non-professionally qualified staff will continue to make complex decisions and handle complex situations but will their pay reflect this? So far this has not been the case. UNISON will continue to press for the pay these staff deserve.
Most of what has been achieved could not have been so without the input of our members attending meetings and without the extra facility time given to the union. Has anything been achieved?
Role Profiles have been re-drafted and some major changes on some/ minor changes on others have been made reflecting the comments and questions raised by the unions. Whether this now means we all agree with the re-drafts is another matter!
On the 2 points outlined above there is greater insight into the complexity of the issues involved.
The next round of meetings should clarify the outstanding issues of principle.
I look forward to seeing everyone again in the next round!
Branch Chair and Adult Social Services steward.
You will be aware that in the weeks leading up to Christmas the Sun newspaper has managed to whip up a massive campaign against social workers blaming the individual social worker for the death of Baby P. It delivered a petition demanding the sacking of the social workers and managers involved in the case. Since then any child death reported in the media seems to be scrutinised for potential involvement by social workers and then discussed in terms of the failure to intervene.
Why? Could it be social workers try to work and understand people who are disadvantaged in society instead of simply labelling them as “scroungers” as one Sun journalist on the Today programme referred to people living on the estate in Dewsbury where Shannon Matthews lives?
The effect of the campaign against social workers will make it more difficult to recruit and retain workers in the profession – particularly in Child Protection work. It has overnight also pushed up the cost of caring for children as rather than take risks there has been an increase of some 36% of children being taken into care. In turn the work which relies on trust between the social worker and families has been damaged, potentially increasing the risk for vulnerable people. Well done the Sun and its readership!
UNISON issued a press statement before the Sun petition was handed in and pointed out the difficulties social workers face in their line of work. It was critical of the attacks by the popular press. This statement was accessible on-line.
In our Branch we have discussed the statement at a variety of meetings (latterly our last Branch Executive) and in each case our members agreed for our Branch to forward solidarity greetings to Haringey UNISON which is involved in defending social workers bearing the brunt of the attacks.
Leo Boland’s (our former Chief Executive) statement to all council workers (15.12.08 First Team) was helpful as far as it went, but we think he could have gone much further. For instance there needs to be a serious commitment to cutting down the bureaucracy which is tying our workers to the computer instead of them having more contact with families. He could also have pushed for the 2 extra annual leave days in recognition of our 4 star status for all council staff as a measure of goodwill.
We do not have to feel helpless in the face of this attack on social work and social workers. The Social Work Action Network (SWAN) has an on-line petition. If people want a meeting or further discussion about this and related issues, we can organise this – contact us.
Finally let’s be clear: if the Future Shape delivers privatisation of Children’s services this will do nothing to protect our children but will put more children at risk and result in more frustration for our social worker members.
Branch Chair Social Services Convenor
Environment & Planning Services
Thurs 15 January 2009, Danube, Building 4
Tues 3 February 2009, Willows, Building 4
Wed 25 February 2009, Training Room5, Building 2
Thurs 26 March 2009, Conference Suite, Building 2
Resources and Corporate Governance
Wed 21 January 2009, Training Room 6, Building 2
Thurs 12 February 2009, Conference Suite, Building 2
Tues 3 March 2009, Danube, Building 4
Adults & Children’s Services
Thurs 29 January 2009, Training Room 2, Building 2
Tues 17 February 2009, Training Room 6, Building 2
Tues 17 March 2009, Training Room2, Building 2
Barnet House for all services 12–1.30 pm
Thurs 22 January 2009, Committee Room 2
Wed 18 February 2009, Committee Room 1
Thursday 19 March 2009, Committee Room 1
In Barnet Press Mike Freer, leader of the council said “The status quo is not an option” Status Quo were on BBC this morning, 40 years in the business and still ‘rocking and rolling over the world!’ They have just released a Christmas record, not bad, but have to agree they are not an option for services for Barnet residents!
Here is how the Barnet Press described it-
In Barnet Press Mike Freer, leader of the council said “The status quo is not an option”
Status Quo were on BBC this morning, 40 years in the business and still ‘rocking and rolling over the world!’ They have just released a Christmas record, not bad, but have to agree they are not an option for services for Barnet residents!
National Secretary for Local Government
Is coming to our Branch meeting.
16 December 2008, 12—2 pm
Conference Room, Building 2, NLBP
Guest speaker – Heather Wakefield, UNISON National Secretary Local Government
Agenda – Future Shape & Council Budget
Xmas Buffet is being provided
Time off for members to attend has been requested