What has the “rigged economy, John McDonnell, Barnet UNISON motion” got in common

If it is good enough for the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell then its good enough for Barnet UNISON members, we have taken up the challenge and we are mobilising to campaign to bring back service in-house. We were fortunate to have John McDonnell speak at our AGM on 8 February 2018 you can view what he had to say here https://youtu.be/orDpOHNiowI

We passed following motion “Time to Take our Services Back!” below at our AGM.

We have now had confirmation that the motions have been approved for both UNISON Local Government Conference and UNISON National Delegate Conference in June 2018.

We hope our motion presents our union with an ideal opportunity to escalate and lead an organised grassroots campaign to bring outsourced services back in-house across our membership service groups. Let’s deliver “Deeds not words” and help banish all outsourcing from the workplace.

Motion: Time to Take our Services Back!

This union notes:

  1. Carillion went bust and the immediate effect was for building works on key public sector projects to stop. Potentially thousands of people lost their jobs as Carillion relied on numerous small businesses to deliver on its projects.
  2. Within a month of Carillion going bust Capita’s share prices nose-dived and speculation began as to whether it too would survive.
  3. Capita is one of a handful of big companies which bid to run public services on the promise of saving money. These companies employ tens of thousands of workers. Capita employs over 50,000.
  4. Capita advises Northampton on its finances. 1st February Northampton’s County Council Chief Finance Officer issued a section 114 notice banning any Council expenditure as it was overspent.
  5. Capita has several hundred contracts up for renewal this year.
  6. The initial response from the Local Government Association (LGA) has been to advise Councils not to do anything which might jeopardise the viability of companies like Capita.
  7. Forensics Company collapsed putting in jeopardy the validity of hundreds of court cases but was given further public funds to keep going.

This union believes:

  1. UNISON’s policies of opposing privatisation and outsourcing have been vindicated in the wake of these failures.
  2. The predicament of these companies presents risks to thousands of workers but also opportunities to thousands of workers as the arguments for services being run in-house strengthen.
  3. UNISON has an opportunity to seize the time by organising and campaigning to bring public services in-house and to stop the further outsourcing of other services.
  4. Vigorous and mass public campaigning has a real possibility of weakening the resolve to outsource other services and of discouraging the renewal of other contracts.
  5. The response of the LGA and the response to the collapse of the Forensics Company are outrageous as the onus of saving firms which have taken millions of public sector money to provide public services lies not with public bodies.

This union resolves:

  1. To write to all branches with outsourced members encouraging them to issue press releases calling on their employers to publicise their contingency plans in the event of private contractor failure. Model press releases to be circulated with this notice to assist branches.
  2. To link together the branches which have been able to issue press releases in order that these branches can directly share and develop with one another their experiences of campaigning within the workforce and the local community to bring services back in-house.
  3. To oppose calls to bail out private companies in place of demanding services are brought back in-house.

Solidarity feel free to share widely

 

“Grave concerns of the Pensions Fund Board with the current situation concerning Messrs Capita.”

“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

http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=191&MId=9228

Transcript of audio is below:

 “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?

Thank you.

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

Ok, anyone else want to speak?

No

Thank you very much.

End.

 

 

Barnet UNISON Street Cleansing overtime cut meetings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier this week our office was contacted by staff upset at the news that there has been a massive reduction on overtime until 31 March 2018.

Our members working in Street Cleansing rely on the overtime and are quite understandably upset at the short notice of the cut.

Barnet UNISON are organising workplace meetings for our members working in Street Cleansing on the following days please try to attend one of these meetings:

  • Wednesday 21 February at 5.30 am Oakleigh Road depot
  • Friday 23 February at 5.30 Harrow depot

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barnet UNISON report on the results of our Family Services Survey, 2018.

Our key recommendations: 

  1. London Borough of Barnet should carry out an urgent, independent investigation into the allegations of bullying in Family Services.
  2. Carry out a quantitative and qualitative audit of supervision.

“There is evidence that workers tend to treat the service user in the same way as they themselves are treated by their managers”

Eileen Munro 2011 (Munro Review of Child Protection)

“People are crying at their desks because they cannot cope”

Barnet Family Services social worker 2017

“Managers arrogant and bullying. No respect for workers”

Barnet Family Services social worker 2017

“Managers avoid relationships with social workers and hide behind their emails”

Barnet Family Services social worker 2017

“Because of the time it has taken to establish a more stable core of high quality managers, social workers have, over a year or more, experienced a chain of new managers arriving and introducing new systems without those social workers being involved or trained, with many reporting that they do not understand the changes or why they are being introduced. Those managers then quickly leave, and new managers repeat the cycle.”

Report into Children’s Social Care Services in the London Borough of Barnet, by Frankie Sulke, January 2018

 

To view full report click on link here UNISON Report on Family Services Survey

Barnet UNISON would like to give thanks to those colleagues who responded to the survey. Most were anxious about repercussions if they responded at all and almost all struggled to complete it fearing for the time they would lose on their caseload and the impact there. This, in itself, is indicative of the pressures facing colleagues in that service. Such is the very high turnover of staff that some whom completed this UNISON survey have already managed to “escape” from Barnet.

 

 

Four Days That Shook One Barnet

What a week it has been.

Background:

In August 2013 Barnet Council decided to “get into bed” with Capita, when they signed the contracts, Capita Share price was 959.

Back in 2010 another contractor (Connaught’s) went into liquidation. They provided the Council Housing repair service. Our members were sacked by a telephone conference call.

As a result of that experience, when the Council started “courting” the private sector to run our services, Barnet UNISON warned the Council about the risk of contractor failure.

The response to our feedback was, “don’t worry”, “Capita is a top FTSE 100 company”, hence there is no risk of the contractor failure.

2018 and Carillion.

Earlier this year Carillion collapsed and went into administration.

To the wider public it was a surprise and a shock.

However, as more details emerge about the fall of Carillion, more questions are being asked.

  • How did this happen?
  • Why did the external auditors KPMG sign off their accounts.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/01/30/kmpg-investigation-will-make-break-frc/

  • Why did the government hand over large scale contracts to a company that was in serious financial trouble long before it finally collapsed?

“For those already thinking this sounds a bit like Carillion – you are right. A gaping pension deficit, departing CEO, shrinking cash flow and over-reliance on intangible “goodwill” in it’s accounts – signed off by KPMG.

Capita’s profit warning caps a 24 month slide which saw the UK’s largest outsourcing company tumble out of the FTSE 100 index, its share price losing 80 per cent of its value since January 2016, falling from £11.60 to £2.01 today.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/capita-carillion-outsourcing-local-authorities-councils-barnet-northamtonpshire-a8188006.html

It is not clear whether the above news of the fall of the Capita Share price has ever been noted in the Barnet Council register. Furthermore after listening to the Council debate (Tuesday 30 January 208) on contingency plans in the event of contractor failure it is blatantly clear that none of the councillors had any awareness of the Capita Share price position.

 

Day One: Tuesday 30 January 2018.

Capita Share Price opened 358.60

On Tuesday 30 January 2018 at the Barnet Full Council meeting the following Opposition (Labour) Motion was submitted in the name of Cllr Barry Rawlings

Public services and outsourcing

Council notes the collapse of the giant outsourcing firm Carillion earlier this month following financial problems, a number of profit warnings, the departure of its Chief Executive and a drastic plunge in its share price. Council notes the uncertainty and concern this causes for thousands of Carillion’s workers, the small businesses in its supply chain, the projects it was contracted to deliver, and the public who use the services it was contracted to provide.

Council notes LB Barnet’s use of mass outsourcing contracts to provide critical back office, regulatory and other services, and therefore requests that the Policy & Resources Committee receives a report on what contingency plans are in place should anything similar happen to outsourced services in Barnet.

You can listen to the debate by going to the web site http://bit.ly/2EycNU5

The following motion was agreed. This is astonishing in itself as it is extremely rare for all political parties to agree on a motion.

The contingency plans for insourcing will be submitted to Performance and Contract Management Committee, Tuesday 27th February, 2018 7.00 pm.

This is a public meeting

“Flying a kite to cause trouble” “nothing to worry about Capita”

This debate took place before anyone was aware that Capita were about to issue a Profit notice.

Capita Share price closed at 347.60

 

Day Two: Wednesday 31 January 2018

Capita Share Price opened 250.00

Capita plc issue a profit warning:

Capita’s new Chief Executive stated: “Today, Capita is too complex,” he said. “It is driven by a short-term focus and lacks operational discipline and financial flexibility. [It] needs to change its approach. Cost savings and non-core disposals alone will not be enough. We have also taken the significant decision to suspend the dividend and seek equity.”

Some headlines:

Capita: more than £1bn wiped off value of UK government contractor

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/31/shares-in-uk-government-contractor-capita-plunge-40-after-profit-warning

The next Carillion? Shares in outsourcing firm Capita plunged 40% after profit warning.

http://uk.businessinsider.com/capita-profit-warning-share-price-fall-2018-1

Outsourcing giant Capita announced the suspension of its dividend as part of a transformation plan this morning – and shares duly plunged by more than 40 per cent.

http://www.cityam.com/279777/capita-shares-have-tumbled-more-than-third-city-reacting

Contingency plans being made for Barnet’s contracts with Capita

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jan/31/contingency-plans-being-made-for-barnets-contracts-with-capita

Barnet UNISON writes to Chief Executive seeking details of the contingency plans.

 

Capita share price closed at 183.05

 

Day Three: Thursday 1 February 2018

Capita Share price opened at 178.15

In the debate in the House of Commons today, a Labour MP referred to Barnet Council having a contingency plan.

https://youtu.be/d_hRl60ZcN4

UK officials met Capita bosses to discuss its financial problems

The company’s value has more than halved since a profit warning earlier this week, falling a further 13% on Thursday. Competitors including Interserve, Mitie and Serco also saw their shares slide.

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/feb/01/uk-officials-capita-discuss-financial-problems

Oh dear, Capita: MPs put future UK.gov outsourcing in the spotlight

Labour MP Rachel Reeves asked about the serious financial concerns at Capita, after £1bn was wiped off the company’s value following a suspension of dividends and £700m rights issue yesterday. The firm’s shares have now plunged by almost 50 per cent.

Immediately after the announcement, Barnet Council – dubbed “easyCouncil” for its extreme reliance on outsourcing (it has more than half a billion pounds worth of contracts with Capita) – put contingency plans in place to examine how it would handle the fallout should Capita fail.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/02/01/mps_scrutinise_capita_uk_government_outsourcing_contracts/

Capita share price closed at 160.25

 

 

Day Four: Friday 2 February 2018

Capita Share price opened at 160.35

 

Carillion collapse leaves Northern Ireland staff ‘facing uncertainty’

“The news that Capita stocks have nosedived places further pressure on the system of outsourcing public services and will require a significant review. We also referred the security of the PIP assessment contract, which currently rests with Capita, to the Auditor General for further inquiries.”

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/carillion-collapse-leaves-northern-ireland-staff-facing-uncertainty-36557577.html

 

Norfolk councils will monitor contractor Capita after news of group’s woes

http://www.edp24.co.uk/business/norfolk-councils-monitoring-contractor-capita-shares-financial-problems-carillion-1-5378698

 

Capita contract probed after thousands of clinical letters stuffed in a drawer somewhere

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/02/02/spending_watchdog_probes_clinical_correspondence_backlog_in_capita_contract/

 

‘Business as usual’ for school support company Entrust – despite Capita profit warning

http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/news/stoke-on-trent-news/business-usual-school-support-company-1157615

Capita share price closed at 162.30

Barnet UNISON seek job security for #Capita staff working for Barnet Council

Press Release: Barnet UNISON seek job security for #Capita staff working for Barnet Council

31 January 2018.

This morning Capita staff woke up to some scary headlines that the former FTSE 100 company was in serious trouble.

The next Carillion? Shares in outsourcing firm Capita plunged 40% after profit warning.

http://uk.businessinsider.com/capita-profit-warning-share-price-fall-2018-1

Outsourcing giant Capita announced the suspension of its dividend as part of a transformation plan this morning – and shares duly plunged by more than 40 per cent.

http://www.cityam.com/279777/capita-shares-have-tumbled-more-than-third-city-reacting

This news follows on from the recent collapse of Carillion only a couple of weeks ago. Already political commentators are making comparisons with Carillion and Capita.

In light of the much publicised stress and anxiety experienced by Carillion workers in the wake of the company’s downfall; Barnet UNISON has written to the Chief Executive seeking details of Barnet Council’s contingency plan in the event Capita may have to give up their contracts.

We know that whatever happens there is going to be a great deal of speculation and uncertainty for the staff and whilst UNISON has seen the email from Jon Lewis, Capita’s, new Chief Executive trying to stem anxieties of his 70,000 workforce, we know workers will be worried about their jobs.

Barnet UNISON is looking for a statement from the Council in the event that Capita are unable to continue to run the two Barnet contracts, that Council will initiate plans to transfer the staff back in-house.

Who can we trust?

Since the collapse of Carillion, more news has emerged as to how bad things really were for that company. Furthermore questions are being asked about the role of the external auditors KPMG more here https://www.insider.co.uk/news/watchdog-probe-kpmg-over-carillion-11931818

It has happened before in Barnet……

In 2010 Barnet Homes had commissioned Connaught’s to provide Council Housing Repairs service. Connaught’s went into liquidation. Our members were told they had lost their jobs over a message on a speaker phone. Months earlier Barnet UNISON had held talks with Barnet Homes Chief Executive as it was becoming increasing clear Connaught’s were in serious trouble. There was further problems when it became clear that there was missing pension contributions which needed to be picked up by Barnet Council.

Read more here http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2010/08/19/barnet-unison-members-working-for-connaught-face-uncertain-future/

Footnote: On 26 June 2017 Capita share price was 705.50 now six months later the share price closed today at 202.09 which represents a 72% drop in their share price over a six month period.

On Wednesday 31 January, 2018 the Capita share price opened up at 347 and closed at 182.50 which represents a 47.53% fall in share price.

“Once again the market shows that it is merciless when a company is in trouble. Carillion looks as if it is just the tip of the iceberg. The minute Carillion collapsed I immediately started to look more closely at Capita Share price. I noted that Capita share price had already dropped by around 66% in the last two years. Today seems to have shocked many experts. My concern is for the staff and the local services they provide for Barnet residents. I know from speaking to staff that they are worried and quite understandably cynical about any messages trying to play down what is happening to the company. After the debacle that our former Connaught members went through previously I want to ensure this time that Barnet UNISON does it utmost to try to allay members concerns about their future employment. My view is that this event is a watershed moment for Barnet Council. Please abandon your “love affair” with outsourcing and commence negotiations to return all services back to the Council.” John Burgess, Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON

Links.

1. “NHS England has said it is ‘holding Capita’s feet to the fire’ over poor performance, and GP leaders have called for the service to be taken back under NHS control.”

https://www.gponline.com/bma-demands-assurances-gps-capita-share-price-drops-40/article/1455914

2. “No sensible public authority, whether council, NHS trust, or Whitehall department, would let a contract to a company over which hang as many question marks as hang over Capita.

Procurement chiefs and permanent secretaries should now be poring over their contracts with Capita and making contingency plans. Capita runs payroll in many councils and staff have to be paid, so immediate alternative arrangements should be in place. That costs money, which needs to be factored into the cost of this and future contracts.”

https://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2018/jan/31/capita-beginning-end-public-service-contracting-councils-privatisation

3. Wave Tata, Capita: You’ve lost mega-contract to rival outsourcer

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/01/16/capita_loses_biggest_contract_to_rival_outsourcing_biz/

4. Ministry of Defence ‘wasted millions on failed computer system’

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/14/ministry-of-defence-failed-computer-system

5. Thousands of court cases adjourned due to failures in interpreting services

https://www.theguardian.com/law/2016/may/04/thousands-of-court-cases-adjourned-due-to-failures-in-interpreting-services

Barnet: School budget cuts fight back

Last year there was a great deal of publicity courtesy of the NEU publishing the School budget cuts website https://schoolcuts.org.uk/#!/

Here are some KEY FACTS

  • £2.8bn has been cut from school budgets since 2015
  • £54.0k average cut to primary schools
  • £205.6k average cut to secondary schools

Unless there is a change of government and an end to austerity, then the cuts in schools are going to mean staff are going to face redundancy.

Barnet UNISON wants to organise and support our members facing cuts and redundancies.

For example we are currently supporting our members working in Hendon School where a cuts restructure consultation has begun.

Hendon School proposes 33% cut to the support staff budget

Whilst we are involved in the consultation process we are also running an informal strike ballot of our members at the same time.

As Bob Crow once said:

“If you fight, you won’t always win. If you don’t fight, you will always lose.”

Our branch will always offer full support to our members in schools if they want to fight back. We will commit our resources to organise a robust defence of our member’s jobs and services.

If your school is facing cuts to staffing please make sure you contact the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk ASAP in order we can arrange a visit at your school.

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