Barnet residents organise funeral procession for Barnet Public Services

Yesterday a group of residents organised a funeral march, they made several stops across the borough and gave the following eulogy.

“We are gathered here today to bid farewell to Barnet Public Services.

It is sad, of course, to lose a single service, but to lose the majority of this family is truly tragic. Perhaps you did not know all of them, but all of us were acquainted with some of them. They were there to serve us and they provided jobs for some of us. The purpose of these services – like the motivation of those who provided them – was purely to do the job well. They were not perfect, any more than any of us are, but these services were answerable to US, the public. We could reach them directly and press our case when necessary. There were personal connections and there was continuity. They were part of our community.

They were ours, we valued them and we fought hard to save them. They would have lived but for the key to their survival – the date of the decision of their execution – being hidden from view and the executioners’ misleading statements about it when asked.

Now those services as we knew them are gone.

The public – is private,

the motivation and purpose are profit – not service,

and our community rightly grieves.

As we mourn our loss, we extend our sympathies to those who have the added hardship of being forced to move or who have lost their job. As we watch our public services being buried far from their home, we worry how call-centre workers with no connection to, knowledge of, or interest in us and our community will respond to our needs.

We worry especially about what will happen to us and to our loved ones as the first priority of even more vital services – becomes profit, for we have seen how this has harmed some and endangers more people in the privatised care regimes under Fremantle and Your Choice Barnet. Fighting for the right to be consulted about the care of those we hold dear, we are told by such organisations that they don’t have to listen to us, because they are private companies. So how will we ensure that our environment, our buildings, the goods sold in our shops, our highways, our estates and our personal data are safe in the hands of Capita, an enormous organization with a far-from-perfect record of delivering on its promises in the public service sector?

By their actions, the executioners – and you know who they are ­– have dealt a body blow to local democracy. And although we have lost the initial battle, there is much to fight for.

As we bid farewell to public services, let us rededicate ourselves to that fight and to restoring that democracy: To holding the council and Capita to account for every drop in standards, every failure to deliver services, and every penny not accounted for.

Do NOT rest in peace, Capita and Barnet Council:

 

WE ARE WATCHING YOU!”

“Why are the government attacking the workers and their union?

“Why are the government attacking the workers and their union?

In the last month there has been a concerted negative campaign to target workers and their trade unions. By that I refer to the stories in the press questioning the role of the trade unions and the link to the Labour Party. The Coalition Government attacks are directed on funding of the Labour Party and now it seems future funding of political parties may now be funded by the tax payer?

What is of interest are the private donations by multinationals who are clearly wanting something in return.

It was interesting to read that over £100 billion of public sector contracts have already been handed to the big private sector contractors such as G4S, IBM. Serco, Balfour Beatty, BT, and Capita

It is not until you read the list of MPs with financial interests and links to the NHS see here that you can see whay the NHS is already under threat of mass privatisation

Where are attacks?

1. Employment Tribunals

Earlier this week news broke that workers would have to pay if they wanted to take their employer to an employment tribunal.

Workers can expect to pay between £160 to £250 simply to make a claim and a further hearing fee starting at £230 to £950.

This is clearly designed to stop access to justice for workers who have been unfairly dismissed or discriminated against.

However if a worker belongs to a Trade Union this fee will be covered case if UNISON takes up the case for the member

The Good News is that UNISON has won the right to have a JR hearing over tribunal fees read here

2. Attack on Trade Unions and their members

I refer of course to the “Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill 2013-14”

The above Bill is a direct attack on Trade Unions and our members working across the public and private sectors. It ignores the growing public concern that rich and powerful individuals and corporations hold over policy making and politicians

3. Privatised workers lose rights to National Pay Awards.

When workers have previously been transferred to the private sector, the link to future the national Pay Awards has been quashed in the European courts see here

4. Attacking collection of Trade Union subscriptions

This dispute concerns the collection of trade union subscriptions by the employer on behalf of the trade union. This is a practice all good employers carry out for a fee paid by the trade union. Reading this report it seems that this petty attack has all the trademarks of anti trade union ideology.

 

Austerity launches another vicious attack on low paid female workers in Barnet Council

Austerity launches another vicious attack on low paid female workers in Barnet Council

On Friday 2 August Barnet Council issued a Press Release (here) about the Judicial Review of the One Barnet Programme. Here is an extract

Councillor Richard Cornelius, Leader of the Council, said: “I’m delighted with the judges’ decision.

“We can all now get on with making the huge savings in our back office costs which we need to do if we are to continue protecting our frontline services.

On the same day the above statement was released I sat in a consultation with coach escorts who provide a Frontline service for children with special education needs (SEN).

As I listened to the presentation, I became increasing agitated and angry (as did the staff) at what is the most outrageous attack on low paid undervalued female workers.

In the meeting it was accepted by the Council that most of the staff only earn £8,891.67 a year and work only 20 hours a week, although many of them would like to work more.

It was heart breaking to hear escort after escort describing how seriously this would impact on them and their families if they are forced to take the proposed 33% cut in pay.

That’s right after speaking to escorts after the meeting and using the figures provided by the Council most of them will see their earnings drop from £8,891.67 to £5,845.84 a year.

Many disclosed that they were already on pension credits or other benefits and were worried that these proposals may result in them losing benefits; others were worried about not having enough to pay the rent and losing their homes.

This is an unacceptable cut to a largely low paid female workforce most of whom have loyal long service with the London Borough of Barnet. The scale of the hardship this will cause on this workforce if this proposal is implemented is the worst I have seen in all my time as a trade union official.

After the meeting coach escorts explained the day to day experiences of their job, it was frightening and shocking; anyone listening to their account would have to agree the Council is not paying them enough for what they do.

It is fair to say staff were both upset and incensed about this attack on their livelihoods and have asked for a meeting with the Director of People and made an offer for the Director to accompany some of the escorts on duty.

Further meetings are being arranged with our members who are fired up and feel they have no alternative but to campaign against this unacceptable assault on their terms and conditions.

UNISON has requested a copy of the Equality Impact Assessment for the staff and the Service and sought clarification as to whether parents and schools have been consulted.

UNISON is also demanding that this proposal is abandoned in light of the comments from the Leader that the One Barnet outsourcing will be delivering savings in order to protect frontline services. You are not going to get a more frontline service than this service. We wait to hear if the alleged One Barnet savings really will be used for the Coach Escort frontline service.

In the meantime please send messages of support to Barnet Council Coach Escort Campaign to contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Update on true cost of Capita NSCSO outsourcing

To view the latest postion in relation to the negotiations on the Capita NSCSO project view document here

There has already been a positive change as a result of discussions with the increase in revenues and benefits posts now remaining in the borough.

However this is just the begining, UNISON will be endeavouring to negotiate more jobs to remain within the borough and hope the Council will help support this aim.

For more details on the negotiations see here

Pre-Action Letter – Proposed Claim for Judicial Review was served on Barnet council.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, STOP PRESS:

Pre-Action Letter – Proposed Claim for Judicial Review was served on Barnet council.

A Barnet resident, Maria Nash, has instructed lawyers to seek Judicial Review of the One Barnet Programme.   A pre-action protocol letter was sent to the Council today, prior to the Cabinet meeting tonight which plans to approve the appointment of Capita plc as preferred bidder for the first of the One Barnet contracts, worth £320 million.

The letter details the grounds on which a Judicial Review will be sought:

1.         Breach of the Council’s duty to consult Barnet residents, businesses and community organisations about its plans, the result of which is that it has spent millions of pounds – the Agilisys contract alone has cost over £4m and is likely to rise to £6m – on professional consultants helping it to run the procurement process, but has not once asked local people for their views.

2.         Breach of councillors’ duty to the residents in their area, to make sure that their decisions represent the best available value for public money. In order to be sure that they are getting best value out of this or any other contract the Council must compare the costs, benefits and risks of outsourcing with the costs, benefits and risks of retaining services in house but reforming the way they are provided to optimise value. Despite having been urged to do this, and despite the fact that it has been done by other local authorities, like Edinburgh, Barnet has refused to do it.

3.         Breach of the public sector equality duty: the Council must take issues of equality into account when making important decisions which affect people’s lives, like making radical changes in the way Council services are run.  The “equalities impact assessment” done in the One Barnet case was a pure paper exercise, which took no account of the views of people who would be affected by the changes.

4.         Breach of public procurement law, which requires that this contract be awarded to the company submitting the “most economically advantageous tender from the point of view of the public body”, i.e. the provider that gives the “best value for money” , taking into account the council’s responsibilities. Lack of consultation with local people, lack of consideration of equalities and lack of an in-house services comparator means the council cannot state that Capita gives the best value for money.  Such a breach of the public procurement rules leads to cases like West Coast Main Line.

5.         Breach of councillors’ duty to make up their own minds: Individual councillors must by law make up their own minds how to vote after informing themselves on the issues.  They are not allowed blindly to follow the party line.  Councillors have been starved of information and have not had the opportunity to understand the highly complex proposals for the contract, so they cannot legally vote to do anything other than defer a decision so that they can inform themselves and come to a proper view.

 

Notes for editors

1.                  Capita has been chosen as the preferred bidder for the New Support and Customer Services Organisation (NSCSO) contract with Barnet Council, worth at least £320 million over 10 years and advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union as worth between £600 and £750 million. A second contract covering Development and Regulatory Services (DRS) worth £275 million over 10 years is also being bid for by Capita Symonds and EC Harris; parking services were recently outsourced to NSL for £15 million (5-year contract).

2.                  Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) is a coalition of residents, trade unionists and community campaigners in the London Borough of Barnet, formed to defend and improve public services.

3.                  Maria Nash is unfortunately unable to talk to the press due to illness. She has asked BAPS representative to speak on her behalf.

 

Contact: Barnet Alliance tel: 07534 407703 – Vicki Morris tel: 07446 292994 – http://barnetalliance.org ; Barnetalliance4publicservices@gmail.com

UNISON One Barnet Online Bite size briefings

Barnet UNISON has produced over 40 detailed reports throughout the four year life of the Future Shape/EasyCouncil/One Barnet Programme.

You can view all of our reports and much much more here Since the beginning of September 2012 UNISON branch has been producing a series of ‘bite size briefing for all 63 councillors.

Briefing Number 1 Edinburgh an example of an alternative http://ning.it/NMdRS3

Briefing Number 2 Cornwall Council Joint Venture http://ning.it/PPYy19

Briefing Number 3 on Joint Venture to sue Somerset Council http://ning.it/OonDtD

Briefing Number 4 Street Lighting PFI http://ning.it/QVN0Eo

Briefing Number 5 entitled “What are Joint Ventures?” http://ning.it/QVN3QS

Briefing Number 6 entitled ‘G4S Fiasco’ to all 63 councillors http://ning.it/QVN9bd

Briefing Number 7 – “One Barnet contract monitoring or thin client which is it to be?” http://ning.it/QVNdaV

Briefing Number 8 entitled How Joint Ventures Work http://ning.it/PPYChs

Briefing Number 9 – Regulatory Services & Risk http://ning.it/PPYE99

Briefing Number 10 Graph of Doom or Graph of Fantasy? http://ning.it/PPYEGe

Briefing Number 11 entitled Competitive Dialogue – decision making. http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/sites/default/files/Briefing%20Number%2011%20Competitive%20Dialogue%20’Decision%20taking%20′.pdf

Briefing Number 12 Newcastle “A good model of staff engagement.” http://ning.it/PPYO0a

Briefing Number 13 Benefit Administration & Outsourcing – New Support Customer Services Organisation http://ning.it/QVRfA5

Briefing Number 14 Cornwall Council update http://ning.it/R5iNmF

Briefing Number 15 Strategic Partnerships http://ning.it/Qktbfn

Briefing Number 16 Flexible Contracts http://ning.it/RQvRwm

Briefing Number 17 Alternative 10 Point Plan http://ning.it/RQvMsK

Legal Services update………6 July

UNISON Members will know that Legal Service should have been transferred to Harrow Council on Monday 2 July. However there has been a number of serious developments which has resulted in a delay to the transfer. The cause of the delay has been documented before. 

On Thursday 5 July 2012 I attended a special Joint Negotiation Consultation Committee to address the following concerns raised by UNISON in the tripartite meetings

UNISON Submission to JNCC 5 July 2012

UNISON wishes to put on the record their dissatisfaction with the TUPE consultation with regards the transfer of legal Services to the London borough of Harrow. Considering at the outset of this TUPE consultation UNISON had strongly urged lessons be learnt from a recent TUPE transfer with the Parking Service. It is disappointing to report that lessons have not been learnt.

Due Diligence

It has been clear from the little information which has been shared with the trade unions that Barnet staff are at risk of redundancy as a result of the TUPE transfer. Both UNISON branches have made repeated requested for a copy of the Financial Due diligence which has taken place.

UNISON recognises the risk that Legal Services may not be able to deliver a viable business case due to lack of financial information. UNISON notes this risk is reported in the business case submitted to Cabinet Resources Committee on 4 April 2012. In the same report the Council quite rightly had to provide evidence that they had mitigated this risk and does so in section 4.2

“Due diligence has been carried out to understand the costs of the future service, alongside considerations of overheads, set up costs, and pension cost”

UNISON is asking this JNCC to provide a copy of the Due diligence.

Inter Authority Agreement

UNISON has been informed that the above agreement will be shared with the staff and trade unions before it is signed. UNISON is concerned that this document may contain information which will have a material impact on our members terms & conditions. UNISON is seeking confirmation that UNISON and our members will be given sufficient time to read and consult on the information contained therein.

UNISON is asking for period of time to be provided to the Trade Unions in order for meaningful consultation of the Inter Authority Agreement to take place.

Outcome

The Council responded by saying that there was no Due diligence report and that the IAA will be circulated to staff and the Trade Unions, but no date.

 

What next?

The latest delays are now due to ongoing discussions over the content of the Inter Authority Agreement (IAA) which is a legal document between the London Borough of Harrow and London Borough of Barnet. UNISON and staff have been given an assurance that they will see this agreement before it is signed. It is fair to report that staff have mixed feelings about the transfer. Some members just want to get out of Barnet and after what has happened I can fully understand that sentiment. Others are concerned about what happens after transfer as it has already been stated that there are going to be redundancies. Unfortunately both councils are blaming each other about whether sufficient information was transferred to Harrow in order for Harrow to provide meaningful consultation about redundancy proposals with the trade unions.

It is both surprising and disappointing to have to report that for some reason Harrow Council are having a problem agreeing to the re-location protocol imposed by Barnet Council on any future TUPE transfers.

This is the fourth TUPE transfer and the process is getting worse not better, hardly inspiring news for our members in the much bigger outsourcing projects.

 

 

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