Breaking News: Barnet UNISON writes to Norse the Cleaning contractor for Barnet Council

Norse won the Barnet Council Cleaning contract last year. They provide cleaning services in many schools and Council buildings including the new £55 million new Colindale office.

Barnet Council quite rightly have recognised the need to increase the cleaning regime in Council buildings and schools in order to try to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus amongst staff and the public.

However the main risk identified by Barnet UNISON was that the cleaners do not receive sick pay and many are on zero hours contracts. This means it is highly likely that any cleaners exhibiting symptoms of the virus will still attend work as they could not afford to lose pay.

Barnet UNISON asked the Council to make contact with Norse to ask if they will ensure all staff will receive full pay if they need to self-isolate or exhibit symptoms of the virus. To date the Council has not had a reply.

Today, Monday 16 March 2020 Barnet UNISON has written to Norse asking them for clarification about sick pay for their staff working on the Council corporate cleaning contract.

We will report their response as soon as we have had a response.

Breaking News: ISS will be pay full pay to their Barnet Catering staff if off sick with Coronavirus

At a union meeting last week ISS issued a statement in relation to sickness absence and Coronavirus.

Barnet UNISON who had raised the issued with Barnet Council a few weeks ago welcomes the news that ISS the contractor which provides catering services in Barnet Schools will pay full pay if any worker has to self-isolate or are displaying symptoms of the Coronavirus.

“This is sensible pragmatic news and provides some confidence that the Council and ISS recognise the need to ensure the spread of the virus is limited. ISS do not pay company sick pay. There was a real risk that staff would come into work even if they had symptoms, simply because they can’t afford to lose money. The same must be applied to the Corporate Cleaning contractor who provide services in Council office and schools.” John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON

Barnet UNISON submission to Barnet Council about #Coronavirus

Dear Barnet UNISON members
The follow proposals have been submitted to Barnet Council today.
The following applies to all Barnet Council workers (Barnet Council workers includes all staff working in Barnet Community Schools.) during the period of the current #Coronavirus Pandemic.
• All sickness absence monitoring to cease.
• Full sick pay to be paid to all staff regardless of length of service or where their entitlement has reduced or expired.
• No reduction in pay for staff who are self-isolating or caring for someone who is at risk.
• No reduction in pay for any worker having to take time away to look after their children.
• No redundancy consultations.
• All restructures to go on hold.
• Disciplinaries where no risk to life and limb or others to be postponed.
• All other grievances/disciplinaries/capabilities/and Appeals to only go ahead on a case by case basis in agreement with the trade unions.
• For those workers who would be considered to be vulnerable to Coronavirus e.g. workers over 60 and those with underlying health conditions are to be allowed to self-isolate and/or work from home if they so wish.
• Barnet Council to seek information from their workforce as to what skills, expertise they can volunteer in order to assist the Council to be able to redirect resources to socially useful activities and offer training.
• Any worker volunteering to work at a higher grade will be paid at that rate.
• No worker will suffer a financial detriment from volunteering.
• Communication to go out on a daily basis giving clear guidance about what the Council is doing across all services. This communication should go out in a number of formats e.g. Email, flyers, Council website (not just intranet). This communication will be done in such a way as to demonstrate we understand the workforce will be the ones passing on information about the Council’s response and can play a useful role in carrying out and reinforcing these messages.
• Business continuity meetings to include representatives from the trade unions.
• Urgent reviews/risk assessments to be carried out with the involvement and collaboration of all staff to determine what work must be done and what can be done differently or postponed in order to reduce unneccesary contact with public e.g. telephone assessments instead of face to face meetings.
• Provision of counselling services for all staff to be promoted in all future communication in order to look after the mental wellbeing of the workforce
• To ensure adequate supplies for handwashing is provided for mobile workers.
• End hot desking.
• Where possible allow workers to vary working hours to reduce risk of infection on congested public transport.
• Bring the outsourced cleaning services back in-house.
Contractors
Barnet Council to seek confirmation from all contractors whose staff work alongside Barnet Council workers that they are also providing full pay for their staff who are off sick or self-isolating or needing to look after children.
Agency
Barnet Council to seek confirmation from all agency organisations supplying staff to work alongside Barnet Council workers that they are also providing full pay for their staff who are off sick or self-isolating or needing to look after children.

Corona Virus: Barnet UNISON update

Dear Members

As the Corona (Corvid-19) virus has spread it has become the main issue of concern in our workplaces.

The main responsibility for dealing with the virus lies with the UK Government and national and regional agencies. But Barnet UNISON believes, along with the rest of the Trade Union movement, that unions and employers, working together, can make a significant difference to ensure that the effects of the outbreak are minimised.

Over the last few weeks Barnet UNISON have been trying to engage with Barnet Council about the Corona Virus. We want to work with the Council in a cooperative way to inform and protect our members, other colleagues and the public, so that measures taken in response to the virus are appropriate, sufficient, and fairly applied.  We also believe that working this way will help prevent irresponsible behaviour and panic.

UNISON members have raised their concerns with us on obtaining information on the level of risk, the lack of precautionary measure such as sanitisers at some work sites, and the repercussions of not being at work because of illness, self-isolation or other result of the outbreak.

The Council have been relaying information from the Government, the NHS and Public Health England on the intranet or through work emails, but not all Barnet workers have easy access to these, and are missing important communications. Further guidance specific to our workplaces is also needed.

The Council have tried to supply sanitisers and wipes, but they have informed that we problems with supply of these items have proved a major obstacle.  At a service and local level some mangers and staff have been procuring items for the protection of colleagues, but UNISON hold that these should have been planned for and provided at the Council Corporate level before now.

In response to our members concerns we have raised a number of issues with the Council. These include

  • Guidance and information
  • Provision of protectionary items and procedures
  • Risk Assessments
  • Specific arrangements for colleagues at greater risk from the virus such as those over 65 or those with underlying health problems.
  • Procedures for Council buildings open to the public
  • Actions to take at worksites if people with confirmed cases of the virus have visited or worked there.
  • Procedures for Home visits to service users
  • Sick Leave
  • Working from home
  • Absence reporting
  • Service cover for high levels of absence
  • School closures and child care responsibilities
  • Appraisal targets and deadlines

At the time of writing we still await a full response from the Council and but have been informed that the issues will be discussed at meeting next week.  Barnet UNISON welcome this but such discussion and information should have already   been provided.  But we hope that this signals the Council’s willingness to truly engage with UNISON and the other trade unions in protecting the health of our colleagues and the public.

In the meantime please use the following links to get further information on the Corona Virus.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

If you have concerns or questions please contact your local UNISON reps, or the Branch at

contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

The Corona virus requires a collective response.  Acting together to protect ourselves is the cornerstone of trade unionism. Working together and looking out for our colleagues, friends, family, service users and the wider community will be a major factor in reducing the damage caused by the virus.  Selfish individualist actions, such as panic buying, profiteering on in-demand items or stealing sanitisers from work places threaten all of us, including those committing these acts.

 

Stay safe, stay healthy.

 

In Solidarity

Hugh Jordan

Branch Health & Safety Officer/Libraries Convenor

Barnet Unison

 

Tel: 0208 359 2088

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/

 

Barnet UNISON welcomes the publication of the Barnet Council’s commissioned Library review.

British Library, Kings Cross.
March to protest about cuts to libraries, museums and the arts.
Barnet Unison were on the march along with striking Barnet library staff.
05/11/16 BP AMS

Barnet UNISON welcomes the publication of the Council’s commissioned Library review.

It is a thorough and detailed body of work and while we are not in total agreement with its findings or recommendations, we commend those who worked on it for its evidence based and independent approach. This included a willingness to engage with UNISON and Library workers.

This is an initial response from Barnet UNISON, focusing on the salient concerns to us a trade union.  Further and more detailed responses will follow as we consult with our members working in Barnet Libraries.

Much of the Review concurs with our warnings to the Council before and since the implementation of the current structure and operation of Barnet Libraries. We have been raising these concerns, which focus on the accessibility and the quality and breath of service since 2014.  However   the Council proceeded on their course and the resulting public dissatisfaction and restriction of access (particularly for children and people with disabilities) are plain to see in the Review’s findings.

Barnet UNISON is glad to see the professionalism and hard work of Library staff, at all levels recognised in the Review but   the continuing achievements of these workers is despite the Library Restructure of 2017 not because of those changes. Barnet Library workers have had to overcome significant challenges, including a reduction in numbers of almost 50%, the loss of public and work space, a disruptive working schedule and having to deal with the often justified but misdirected frustration and anger of the public.

Barnet UNISON fought a long campaign to defend the jobs of Library workers from 2014 to 2017.  This involved considerable effort and self-sacrifice by UNISON members working in Barnet Libraries. This campaign was not only about defending our members but a bid to maintain the quality and availability of libraries for the people who live, work, study and visit in Barnet. But regrettably many library workers lost their jobs in April 2017. In many cases this was a sad and premature end to decades-long careers.  These Library workers were sacrificed to the Council’s belief that their skills, knowledge and experience could be replaced by machines and volunteers

Nearly three years after this loss the   Review has found:

“The reduction in staffed opening hours has gone too far, particularly given the low number of volunteers. The reductions act as a deterrent to many library users from using the library and act as a particular barrier to young people who cannot access the library on their own during SSO hours if they do not meet the minimum age requirements.”

And

 

“The loss of staff and the fact that they move between libraries more makes it harder for users to develop positive relationships that support library use for all ages. This is not a criticism of staff. It is a loss for the community”

To help redress this the Review advises that the Council;

“To increase staffed opening hours by increasing staffing resources in the short to medium term at least until adequate numbers of volunteers can be recruited and the use of volunteers stabilised

UNISON support the increase in staffing resources but on a permanent basis. Even if “adequate numbers of Volunteers” are found they are not suitable replacements for Library staff

The Review also calls on the Council;

“To review the extent of budget reductions and explore the scope for additional investment in the service given the relative decline in the take-up of the service”

While the Council have published no plans for further cuts to the Library Service, the implementation of the Review’s recommendations would require additional funds being allocated to the Service. Attempting to implement the changes described without additional resources will result in further burdens and stress on an already overstretched work force.

 

Barnet UNISON ask the Council;

  • When and how will staffing resources be increased?
  • What additional funds will be allocated to the Library Service?
  • How will the Libraries be made more accessible to the public?
  • What measures will be put in place to more accurately record library usage?

 

Barnet UNISON hope the Review will spur the Council to at least begin to repairing the damage done to Barnet Libraries in 2017. Damage which our Union and others warned the Council would result from their Library strategy.  We call on the Council to truly engage with us and those who know the service best, Library workers, in making our Libraries truly fit for the 21rst Century.

 

Barnet UNISON begins work to seek backdating Pay and Pension for members working in Barnet Council schools.

Earlier this year Barnet UNISON submitted 52 collective grievances on behalf of our members working in 52 Barnet Schools.

What is this about?

It is about the calculation used to ensure that part-time workers are not being discriminated in relation to their pay.

UNISON believes that this contract term is unfair and inherently discriminatory. We believe that this contract term results term time only workers receiving less than their pro-rata leave entitlement compared to their full time equivalent (FTE) colleagues.

UNISON believes that this contract treats part time workers less favourably than full time staff and is therefore discriminatory. We also believe that the approach is potentially discriminatory on sex grounds as the workers affected are overwhelmingly female.

UNISON is seeking a recalculation of the pay and leave of these staff and a payment of back pay of any historical underpayment from their date of appointment.

We would also seek a recalculation of any pension entitlement under the LGPS resulting from any underpayment or understatement of pensionable service.

What are we doing now?

We are now busy arranging meetings in these schools to explain the reason for the claim for backdated pay and a payment for underpayment of their Pension. Only one of the Schools is a Barnet Schools the rest are Academies/Foundation Schools.

We are beginning to lodge our legal claim against the Schools in order to protect our members claims.

What about Barnet Council Schools?

As news spreads about our campaign, our members working in Barnet Council Schools are asking about their claims.

Our members were never informed by Barnet Council that they were being paid incorrectly and that they had a claim for back pay and a payment towards the underpayment of their Pension. Our members are angry to hear they have not been paid correctly and are demanding that Barnet Council pay up.

Today, Barnet UNISON has written to Barnet Council seeking a meeting to discuss our claim on behalf of our members. We are calling on Barnet Council to do the right thing and reach a collective agreement which will address the backdating and the underpayment of the Pension.

This is a massive issue for our members and we are continuing to keep all of our members briefed as to their rights at work.

If you are on a Term Time Pay contract and worried if you are being correctly paid please contact the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

More to follow…….

End.

 

Term Time Pay Drop-in meetings

Barnet UNISON is hosting drop-in sessions for our members working in schools which have Term Time Pay issues.

Drop-in sessions will take place on

  1. Monday 17th February 11- 3pm
  2. Tuesday 18th 11 -3pm
  3. Thursday 20th February from 11- 3

Drop-in sessions are held at the Barnet UNISON office, Barnet House, 1255 High Road, Whetstone, London N20 0EJ

Members please note you will need the following information.

Your monthly take home pay figures, payroll number which is on your pay slip, your membership number.

End.

Local Barnet Rabbi to speak at Barnet UNISON AGM

“We are in the process of enormous catastrophic breakdown and if takes an arrest to try to find ways of helping to galvanise public opinion then it certainly worth being arrested.” (Rabbi Jeffrey Newman 14th October 2019.)

Rabbi Jeffrey Newman is guest speaker at Barnet UNISON AGM on Tuesday 25 February 2020 at 4pm Barnet House. All member welcome.

https://youtu.be/Ski8LcjvwVo

Barnet Libraries Review : Barnet UNISON

British Library, Kings Cross.
March to protest about cuts to libraries, museums and the arts.
Barnet Unison were on the march along with striking Barnet library staff.
05/11/16 BP
AMS

Barnet Council have commissioned “an independent evaluation of recent changes to the library service and to make some recommendations for the future.” (https://www.barnet.gov.uk/libraries-0)

The Company undertaking the review have asked Barnet UNISON and a sample of Library staff for their views.  We welcome this engagement with Library workers.

We hope that the review will be fair and evidence based, and that the Council have made the necessary information and evidence available to the reviewing organisation.  This must include comparable statistics on the use of libraries in staffed and unstaffed hours and include the four Libraries outsourced in 2017.

The findings of the review should be published in March and Barnet UNISON will make a full response at that time.

End.

Save our Catering workers

We the undersigned, wish to add our support for Barnet UNISON’s request to the Barnet Council Chief Executive to bring the ISS Catering workers based in the Atrium in North London Business Park (NLBP) back in-house in order they can run a Council owned staff café in the new £55 million Colindale Office.

 

Sign petition here http://chng.it/gNCjP62Q

 

***** Please note there is currently no staff cafe facility in the new Colindale office building.

 

Background:

On 1 April 2016 Barnet Council outsourced their Catering Service to Cambridge Education who are a subsidiary of global giant Mott MacDonald.

Barnet UNISON reached an agreement with Barnet Council that ensured the contract included a provision that no staff could be employed on less than the London Living Wage (LLW).

Cambridge Education sub-contracted the Catering service to another global giant ISS who employed all the Catering workers.

However, Barnet UNISON and the Atrium Catering workers were unaware that the contract between ISS and Cambridge Education did not include the provision of a staff café in the soon to be built £55 million Council Office in Colindale.

In December 2019 Barnet Council informed Barnet UNISON that they had failed to secure an alternative provider to deliver a staff café in Colindale office.

On Monday 27 January 2020 ISS began redundancy one to one meetings for their staff working in the staff canteen in NLBP.

On 1 April 2020 the LLW changes from £10.55 (for a 36 hour week the annual salary would be £19,979) to £10.75 an hour.

*** In the likely event that our proposal is not implemented and the redundancies are carried out, Barnet UNISON is calling on all council staff to try and visit the staff canteen in NLBP on Friday 27 March 2020 between 12 and 1.30 pm for a Solidarity and Thank you meal with our ISS catering workers.

 

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