“John, I didn’t realise what it meant to be outsourced, I remember you warning us about it and calling for strike action. I know now and I absolutely hate working for them.”
I’ve had to represent many outsourced workers here in Barnet. The other day I had a long and upsetting conversation with a member. She reminded me of one of the many campaign meetings I had held with Barnet Council members before services were outsourced. In all of the meetings I would keep repeating the message that in spite of what senior managers were saying, workers would notice a difference if outsourced.
It doesn’t help to say I told you so, because our member need support from us.
It should serve as a warning to any workers under the threat of outsourcing such as Knowsley or the Four Health branches Bradford, Calderdale and Huddersfield, Leeds and Mid Yorkshire Health who are about to be balloted or the 600 hospital caterers, cleaners, porters other staff at three hospitals in Lancashire are planning to strike for 48-hours later this month over plans to transfer their jobs from an NHS trust to a private company it plans to set up as a wholly owned subsidiary. The proposed action on 23 and 24 May follows an 89% vote for strike action in a ballot which saw 73% of eligible members cast a vote.
I send solidarity greetings and this warning, if you don’t fight you have already lost, if you fight, you may win and avoid what will inevitably follow with outsourcing, which will be an attack on your pay and terms and conditions.
On Monday 14 May 2018, Barnet UNISON continued our pledge made at our AGM to send our banner in solidarity to each Grenfell Silent march which take place on the 14th of each month.
I have been on hundreds of marches but I’ve not attended a silent march before.
It is hard to explain just how powerful it is unless you are there.
Once it begins no one speaks, no mobile phones, the traffic stops, even the birds in the trees seem subdued. I could hear the wind in the trees, it was so quiet I could hear the Barnet UNISON banner poles squeaking.
Half way through the march there is a touching scene where residents shake the hands of the firefighters who are lined up in respect alongside of the march.
I spoke to a number of people and they do welcome the unions providing solidarity.
This collection of campaigns are having to fight tooth and nail for justice.
Whilst they have won a victory to have people on the panel alongside the Judge there is so much to fight for.
Today we heard news that the Government won’t ban combustible cladding.
That is impossible to comprehend after what has happened at #Grenfell.
History tells a story. We know, from #Hillsborough and #Orgreave just how long working class communities have to wait for justice.
#Orgreave are still waiting.
It’s important that trade unions do what trade unions have been doing for over a hundred years. We offer solidarity in whatever form is acceptable.
Barnet UNISON will continue to support #Grenfell residents in order they don’t have to wait 20 years for justice.
The next #Grenfell Silent march is on Thursday 14 June, 6.30.
If you would like to join the Barnet UNISON banner on the march simply contact the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For those unable to make the 14 May, there is a protest organised by the Fire Brigades Union on Saturday 16, June, 12 noon assemble outside Downing Street, SW1A 1AA
UNISON’s membership consultation on the Local Government Association’s (LGA) pay offer for 2018-20 ended on 9 March. The UNISON NJC Committee met to today to consider the response.
UNISON members have very narrowly rejected the LGA’s offer, with 50.44% voting to reject and 48.66% voting to accept it. (0.89% of ballot papers were spoilt.)
However, 62.4% of branches and 8 out of 11 Regions have voted to accept the offer.
The Committee had recommended rejection of the offer to members as the basis of the membership consultation. However, since the offer has been very narrowly rejected overall, but accepted by the majority of branches and Regions, the Committee agreed the following next steps:
In light of the results of the consultation on the 2018-20 pay offer, this NJC Committee agrees:
To reluctantly amend its recommendation to acceptance of the pay offer
To consult branches via Regions on the revised recommendation to accept the offer
This consultation to be completed by 5 April 2018
That the question to be put to branches is: ‘Do you agree with the NJC Committee’s revised decision to accept the 2018-20 NJC pay offer: Yes /No.
Branches are not being asked to re-consult members on the pay offer but seek member feedback on the NJC Committee’s question as best they can in the timescale given.
A branch circular will be issued early next week giving further details of this consultation and background information explaining the NJC Committee’s reasons for this decision.
With best wishes
Local Government, Police and Justice Section
“I want to thank members of the Pension Board in particular the Chair for the statement above. Barnet UNISON had already raised a large good deal of the concerns detailed in the audit report mentioned at the Pension Board meeting with our employer. We share the grave concerns expressed so concisely by the Chair of the Pensions Board, however we do not share the optimism of the Council that a service improvement plan will be sufficient. Shortly after Capita took over the Pension Service, staff were made redundant as the service was moved to Darlington. The service is not comparable to the in-house service provided by our members. It our view that the Council should begin negotiations for the service to be brought back in-house. Joining a Pension Scheme is one of the most important financial decisions a worker can make, which is why I am inviting UNISON members who are in the Local Government Pension Scheme to join me at the Barnet Council Pension Fund Committee meeting on Monday 26 February 2018, at 7 pm Hendon Town Hall” (John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON)
Full details of Pensions Fund Committee meeting here
“It would be an understatement to say this is the most important item on the agenda this evening.
In this context I must remind us all that the London Borough of Barnet Pension Fund Board acts in support of the Pensions Committee.
It is the Pensions Committee of the London Borough of Barnet which is, I think, composed exclusively of Councillors which is as it were operationally in charge of our the entire pensions operation.
It is the job of the Pension Fund Board to advise the Pension Committee to encourage it and warn it, but of course the Pension Fund Board is a public body open to members of the public, our agenda is public and so it should be.
I would be derelict in my duty as chair of your board if I did not put on the record for our minutes the grave concerns of the Pensions Fund Board with the current situation concerning Messrs Capita.
Now I am pleased to say that I have observer status on the Pension Fund Committee.
The Pension Fund Committee will be meeting later this month.
The reason that I am an observer there at the next meeting is actually, technically, formally speaking, to present the annual report of the Pension Fund Board to the Pension Fund Committee.
But I don’t want anyone to be in any doubt particularly Messrs Capita that I should use that opportunity to relay to the Pension Fund Committee the concerns and anxieties of this board in relation to the Pension Fund Committee, and the boroughs relationship with Messrs Capita.
In that connection, I would like to first move formally from the Chair that the report we have just been discussing, although it is already a public document, none the less that it be communicated formally to the Pension Fund Committee.
Can I take that as approved?
I must then point out a certain chronological scenario and my understanding of the contract between the Borough of Barnet and mentioned Messrs Capita, is that it provides inter alia for a series of remedy notices as an official term to be issued and members of the Pension Fund Board, will know, that one remedy notice the first was issued, I think last year, last August after the Borough was fined by the Pensions Regulator.
So colleagues, I would not be at all surprised, I would not be at all surprised, if, by the next time the Pension Fund Board meets then, there is some intimation of a second remedy notice.
I’m not saying that it is imminent but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.
My understanding is and I am advised that if a third remedy notice is issued this would mean, I am very much looking to my colleague on my immediate left, to correct me if I am wrong, that this would mean that the borough would be at an imminent state of taking back the contract, yes?
Thank you I am grateful for that clarification.
Our job is to advise the Pension Fund Committee, encourage and support and that’s the purpose of the statement I am making.
In that connection, summarising very broadly there are two overriding concerns that this board has, our main concerns communication with members and the quality of the data.
There are other concerns, but those two top ones, and when I present the annual report of this board to the Pension Fund Committee at the end of this month and when presumably now we have agreed I should also present formally the report we have been discussing.
I shall advise, encourage and warn the Pensions Fund Committee to be exceedingly vigilant on these issues, before the next meeting of the next of this Pension Fund Board, of course this will be an item it goes without saying at the next agenda
Councillor James Murray, executive member for housing, Islington Council, said:
“The decision about housing management in Islington has been finely-balanced. We have decided that bringing HFI in-house will allow us to invest as much as possible in new council housing, whilst protecting our tenants and existing stock from changes the government might make.
“It is vital that we continue to give our tenants and leaseholders the best possible service from our committed staff who currently work for HFI.
“We will also use this opportunity to expand tenant and leaseholder involvement in housing management and we will be consulting next month on how this should be done.”
The decision follows a three-month consultation with tenants and leaseholders this summer – with thousands of residents responding to a questionnaire survey and taking part in discussion groups run by an Independent Tenants Advisor.
The council’s consultation heard a wide variety of residents’ views on what they want for the future of their housing services. Common themes emerging were the need for new housing, more council accountability and a bigger say in the issues that affect all residents – including tackling poverty, anti-social behaviour and saving money.
If confirmed, the decision means the council will negotiate an early termination (April 2012) of the housing management agreement with Homes for Islington which currently runs until 2014.
The arrangements are expected to save the council £1.7m a year.
Between November 2011 and March 2012 the council will carefully prepare for the changeover to minimise disruption to services and maintain the high quality of services residents have come to expect from HFI.
As Austerity Policies continue their brutal assault on public services, Barnet UNISON has looked to see what is happening to the ALMO’s
Today is the first of a number updates on ALMO’s.
This post is about Brent Councils decision to bring their ALMO back in house here are some extracts from the Council reports.
Feel free to open the links and ready all of the reports yourself.
Cllr Harbi Farah, Brent Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said:
“The interests of tenants and leaseholders are my top priority and the results of the consultation show now is the right time to bring housing management back in-house. This decision will allow us to respond more swiftly to the Government’s housing policies, deliver savings and ensure our tenants and leaseholders receive nothing but the best service in the future. Our decision also follows a national trend of local authorities bringing their housing ALMOs back in-house. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Board and everyone at BHP for their hard work over the past 14 years.”
Joanne Drew, Chair of BHP’s Board of Management, said:
“BHP was set up to improve homes as part of the government’s Decent Homes Programme. We have always been committed to working with Brent Council and ensuring local residents are at the heart of the organisation. We will continue to work closely with the council, residents and staff over this transition period to provide modern, efficient and effective services for the benefit of all council tenants and leaseholders.”
Short Summary of the Review Report
“The In-House option offers the best opportunity to make savings and provides the strongest levels of control. This option also puts the housing management service in a better position in relation to the Council’s wider plans to secure improved outcomes for residents. It will be necessary to look at how this option will address Member and resident engagement and there are various options that could be pursued. For example a Members and residents committee may overcome the loss of the ALMO Board under the In-House option. In conclusion, taking into account the challenging financial situation, and all other factors outlined above, it is recommended that the In-House option is chosen. This is the option which the Council believes will best serve residents in Brent but it wants their views on this proposal.”