Merry Christmas? Not a chance! Redundancies on the horizon

The last big outsourcing took place in April 2016.

Education and Catering Services were outsourced to Mott MacDonald who transferred the services to Cambridge Education. Cambridge Education sub-contracted Catering Services to global giant ISS.

At the time of the award of the contract it was very clear that the Council was moving all of its staff, who would need a café based inside, to the new £50 plus million building in Colindale.

What happened next is yet another example of how you lose all control by outsourcing.

For some reason Barnet Council said it did not want the same service it had in the Atrium and wanted to hand it over to a franchise……Costa Coffee. ISS was to sort out the franchise and run a Costa Coffee inside the new Colindale office.

Who or why this was agreed we don’t know – it’s important to note there are loads of Costa Coffee shops around Colindale.

All our members were told by ISS that they would receive Costa Coffee training in readiness for the move to Colindale in June 2019.

That’s right, June 2019.

Then it all went quiet, staff started moving and the ‘white elephant’ – the lack of a café – became more apparent as the building started to fill up.

‘It would all be ready after the summer.’

No, it wasn’t, and the news was worse.

ISS was not going to provide a service.

Barnet UNISON said “let’s run an in-house service”. 

We were ignored.

Barnet Council went out to find a contractor to run a café in the Colindale office.

Bad news for our members

Barnet Council has failed to secure a contractor to run a café in Colindale office. We have been told that the Council is going back out to see if it can secure a contractor but time is running out. The Atrium service will close March 2020. This will give very little time to find another employer and then TUPE transfer staff to the new employer.

Yesterday Barnet UNISON had the unpleasant task of speaking to all of our members in the Atrium café in North London Business Park (also known as the staff canteen) to alert them to the very real risk of redundancy due to this news.

Outsourcing v In-House

Outsourcing has failed our low paid members and it has failed the staff who work in Colindale. The importance of a staff canteen is that it provides a space away from your desk to de-stress and meet up with work colleagues. It’s a space that helps promote mental health and wellbeing.

Barnet UNISON has formally written to Cambridge Education to hold ISS to the contract and ask them to provide a café service in NLBP.

What we do know is that if Catering had remained in-house there would already be a café in Colindale, just as it was ready when all the staff finally moved to North London Business Park.

Solidarity for our UNISON Atrium members.

More on this later in 2020.

End.

 

 

 

Big shout out for UNISON for supporting Term Time Paid members in Barnet

“Since we were first alerted to the problem of underpayments for some of our lowest paid members I have been impressed by the support and advice from UNISON colleagues in UNISON HQ.

What started with one academy is now impacting on over 50 Barnet schools and also a number of private contractors such as ISS, Capita and Cambridge Education.

Over the next few months we have a massive task to reach all of our members in order that our Legal Team can submit claims on their behalf.

We are campaigning for each school to:

  • Adopt Barnet Council Term Time Pay calculator
  • Back dating of pay lost through the underpayment of their wages.
  • Payment towards any loss to our members Pensions due to underpayment of their wages.

(John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.)

Historic underpayments across schools and private contractors in Barnet

Barnet UNISON has written to 67 Barnet Schools, Capita, ISS, Cambridge Education and The Barnet Group in regards potential underpayments to staff who are on Term Time Pay (TTP) contracts.

Whilst the majority of staff on TTP contracts are based in schools there are workers who were outsourced to other contractors also on the same contracts.

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.

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

 

 

 

Pay our Bin workers the proper rate of Pay over the Christmas and New Year

Barnet Bin workers are some of the lowest paid staff in the Council, therefore at this time of the year UNISON had hoped that the Council would want to recognise them for the vital work they do under what have been very challenging circumstances over the last 12 months.

Unfortunately the Council have misjudged the mood of the workforce.

After a year of trying to make sense of the bin collection debacle and now facing further disruption because our two year old depot is sliding down the hill workers are being told they are to be treated differently to other higher paid council workers.

The latest management offer to workers is in relation to work over two weekends over Christmas and New Year, it falls far short of what they should be paid.

All UNISON is asking for is for the staff to be treated the same as many other council workers who work weekends.

The Council has agreed many local agreements that have seen other Council workers receive time and half for working on a Saturday and double time for working on a Sunday.

Sadly, management is refusing to pay the Street Scene workforce at the same rate as other Council workers.

UNISON believes this is discriminatory against manual workers and sends a message that the Council does not care about the lowest paid workforce.

This is why UNISON is meeting with the workforce on Wednesday 4 December 2019.

 

 

Don’t blame the Barnet bin workers: You couldn’t make it up.

This time last year we were in the fourth week of the Bin Collection changes. Barnet UNISON bin workers already knew that the changes would not work. But it had been made very clear that the views of the workforce were not seen as important to the successful delivery of the service.

How wrong was that?

By Christmas 2018 the collection was in chaos as this is one of the busiest times of the year for Bin collections.

UNISON suggested a way out but we were ignored.

In 2019 bin workers were scratching their heads wondering where all the money was coming from to pay the ever growing army of agency workers. A service that started at 6 am and finished by 2pm was now running up until 11 pm at night.

But every time UNISON asked about the rounds we were told it’s just “teething problems” and “things will soon be sorted.”

In 2019, at various Council Committees, councillors started to try to get a grip of what was going on as the agency spend continued to climb and fall then climb again. Sitting in the stalls listening to officers and councillors was something to behold, hardly anything discussed seemed to reflect what our bin worker members were telling UNISON.

After years of representing workers in Barnet Council UNISON is used to being ignored but in the case of the bin service it was still astounding that no one seemed to be able to sort out what was all so apparent to the bin workers.

Then we had the “sliding depot” or the “crack” as it was called in the depot. UNISON watched in bewilderment as the crack got longer, wider and deeper. The road was so bad the vehicles had to drive really really slowly just in case they tipped over.

Obviously someone in the summer managed to convince the Council that there was a serious Health and Safety risk and that the idea of part of the depot sliding down on to Oakleigh Road South was suddenly unpalatable.

Missed opportunity.

Here was an opportunity for the Council to put things right for Barnet residents. The depot is severely constrained by having half of it cordoned off for major building works that were bound to impact on the bin collection service.

“Here was an opportunity for Bin Collection change 2.0”

UNISON bin workers would say “Tear up the crazy area collection proposals” and organise meetings with the bin worker drivers who know the borough streets intimately to help sort out bin collection routes that will work.

UNISON seized on this opportunity to help; after all there was new management in after the departure of two senior managers. We hoped for a change. We said we would help get drivers to help sort the mess out.

What happened?

More of the same. The recent changes to the bin collection service that have moved some rounds to a Saturday took place without consultation with drivers. Early feedback from our members is that things are not going as well as hoped and still the spend on agency continues.

Last week UNISON heard that staff were being pulled for not completing rounds.

Barnet UNISON has made it clear to the Council that they will countenance no blame on our members for being unable to make something that is fundamentally flawed work well for residents.

You couldn’t make this up but it is true.

With all the changes of managers and a depot that is falling apart our amazingly loyal bin workers on whom we all rely, still come into to do a difficult dirty job on low pay.

Don’t blame them for the changes – those decisions were made by others.

Barnet UNISON seriously health and safety concerns about building works at the depot

On Monday 18 November 2019 building works begin at the purpose built depot.

“There may be disruption to bin collection services while we carry out urgent work at Oakleigh Depot which is where our recycling and waste services are mainly run from.

Urgent work is being carried out to fix the issue of the ground movement, so that we can continue to run services safely from the depot.

Recycling and refuse collections may take place later into the day up until 10pm.”

(Source: https://www.barnet.gov.uk/depotworks)

Basically a large section of road in the depot over 200 metres or more is at risk of sliding down the hill into Oakleigh Road South.

Barnet UNISON members have been raising serious concerns about the land movement for almost 18 months. It is disappointing that the concerns of the workforce and the trade unions were ignored and now the damage requires a serious engineering intervention that will take up to six months to complete.

Today Friday 15 November 2019, Barnet UNISON has not had a single risk assessment about the major building works that are due to start on Monday. The depot is already under pressure due to the subsidence which makes traffic movement a critical risk. We have had ongoing problems with lighting in the mornings and serious concerns about the state of the Brogans site for the vehicles. It is clear the haste to move into Brogans without making it fit for purpose is being made at the expense of the health and safety of our members.

Request after request have been submitted requesting the risks assessments none have been made available.

The following Health and Safety legislation applies has been ignored:

Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations, 1977.Regulation 7

Inspection of documents and provision of information.

(1)       Safety representatives shall for the performance of their functions under section 2(4) of the 1974 Act and under these Regulations, if they have given the employer reasonable notice, be entitled to inspect and take copies of any document relevant to the workplace or to the employees the safety representatives represent which the employer is required to keep by virtue of any relevant statutory provision within the meaning of section 53(1) of the 1974 Act except a document consisting of or relating to any health record of an identifiable individual.

Barnet UNISON: Fail  

Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974

2 (6) It shall be the duty of every employer to consult any such representatives with a view to the making and maintenance of arrangements which will enable him and his employees to co-operate effectively in promoting and developing measures to ensure the health and safety at work of the employees, and in checking the effectiveness of such measures.

Barnet UNISON: Fail  

Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations, 1977. Regulation 4A

(1) Without prejudice to the generality of section 2(6) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, every employer shall consult safety representatives in good time with regard to – (a) the introduction of any measure at the workplace which may substantially affect the health and safety of the employees the safety representatives concerned represent;

Barnet UNISON: Fail  

In light of the above Barnet UNISON has no option but to escalate this matter in order that our members are safe at work.

If you are a Barnet UNISON member working at the Depot and have any questions or concerns please ring our Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

BREAKING NEWS: School Support Staff. What we are recommending

Barnet UNISON has now written to 67 schools where we have reason to believe our members are not being paid correctly.

If your school talks to you about this matter please refer them back to Barnet UNISON.

Our proposal to settle this matter is as follows:

Barnet UNISON would like to reach a local resolution on this matter which would involve the following:

  1. The School adopting the correct formula for paying TTO staff.

Barnet UNISON is recommending to all schools in Barnet that they should adopt the annual leave policy and term time formula used by Barnet Council since 1 April 2018.

  1. Backdating compensation for historic underpayments.
  2. Compensation for any loss of pension resulting from the miscalculation of annual leave and pay.

If you have any questions or concerns about your pay please ring our Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

End.

Background:

URGENT UPDATE: Your Pay could be wrong. This is what you must do.

URGENT UPDATE: Your Pay could be wrong. This is what you must do.

“Already over worked and underpaid, would you work for free?

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2019/11/04/already-over-worked-and-underpaid-would-you-work-for-free/

Good News: Housing options staying in Barnet House.

Last week staff working for Barnet Homes were informed that the Housing Options service would not be moving to Colindale.

This is a sensible decision. This service is probably the most high profile and potentially volatile work environment. Due to the brutal crushing impact of austerity those who need this service have often been refused access to services. They are desperate and very vulnerable. Last year we had a fatality. It was a tragedy and it had a profound impact on many of the staff who were working there that day. This is a service that need space for residents and their families to be able to speak to staff in a safe environment.

The space allocated at Colindale was never going to be suitable.

For the time being the service is remaining at Barnet House in which case it does need some money spent on it to make it a better environment for all that use and or work there.

End.

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