Barnet Bin Workers – 97% vote Yes for strike action

Earlier this month Barnet Council senior management issued an instruction that staff were to go out on some of the rounds with a worker down.

Our members were frustrated and angry at this instruction and their fears for health and safety were being ignored.

Barnet UNISON backed their calls for this management instruction to be stopped.

Unfortunately, so far, management have refused to rescind their instruction.

In the last two weeks there have been a number of meetings with senior officials and Barnet UNISON to seek a resolution.

To date the management instruction is being implemented. This is an instruction which UNISON believes puts our members health and safety at risk.

Barnet UNISON has carried out an informal ballot in order to test the strength of feeling of the membership.

The ballot closed yesterday.

“The message from the members is very clear. We had a 93% turnout with 97% voting for strike action. In meeting after meeting I have advised senior management that the anger on the shop floor is intensifying for strike action as each day goes by and this management instruction continues. We have a final meeting on Monday 29 January to see if this trade dispute can be resolved.” John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON

Vote of no confidence in Payslip provided by Capita.

Barnet UNISON reps issue a vote no confidence in Payslip provided by Capita for Barnet Council staff.


Barnet UNISON branch executive notes:

The Council payslip was changed fundamentally following the Capita takeover of in house back office services. The payslip was changed without any consultation with the trade unions. The new payslip has a lot less information than its predecessor. In an attempt to support members who have had considerable problems with their payslip, Barnet UNISON submitted an alternative payslip to the Council. To date we have had no response. The problems we have had with Capita Pensions are not helped by the inferior payslip provided by Capita.

Barnet UNISON branch executive agreed the following statement:

Barnet UNISON has no confidence in the Payslip currently provided by Capita.

Barnet UNISON to engage with Barnet Council in order to propose Barnet Council to demand that Capita revert back to the former payslip.

Vote of no confidence in Occupational Health Service procured by Capita

Barnet UNISON reps issue a vote no confidence in Occupational Health Service procured by Capita for Barnet Council staff.

Barnet UNISON branch executive notes:

That reps reported that Occupational Health Service which is contracted by Capita to provide a service for Barnet Council staff. Reps reported unacceptable levels of service for staff who will already be under stress as a result of their illness. Reps reported that before the Capita takeover this service was provided by a local GP. Furthermore the meeting was informed Barnet Council schools still use the local GP as does Barnet Homes.

Barnet UNISON branch executive agreed the following statement:

Barnet UNISON has no confidence in the current occupational health service contracted by Capita to provide a service for Barnet Council staff.

Barnet UNISON to engage with Barnet Council to propose the current service is terminated and seek to secure occupational health services from the local GP.

Barnet UNISON reps issue a vote no confidence in Employee Assistance Programme













Barnet UNISON branch executive notes:

That reps reported that they have been experiencing a number of ongoing issues with the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which is contracted by Capita to provide counselling for workers in need of support. Despite the interventions by our reps the service is not fit for purpose.

Barnet UNISON branch executive agreed the following statement:

  1. Barnet UNISON has no confidence in the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which is contracted by Capita for Barnet Council employees.

2. Barnet UNISON to engage immediately with Barnet Council to propose the termination of the contract with EAT and seek to secure the services of the former provider “People at Work”. This was a service which used to be provided to all Barnet Council staff and was much better.



BREAKING NEWS: Insourcing here at Barnet Council!

Last night I attended a Council meeting which was discussing whether to bring back the privatised Parking Service. The inevitable vote was to keep the service in the hands of the private sector despite a valiant attempt by the Barnet Labour councillors for a full business case including an in house option.

Imagine my surprise then delight to hear that another outsourced service is to return to Barnet.

I refer to the Barnet’s Registration and Nationality Service which was outsourced to the London Borough of Brent.

On Monday 11 December 2017 Brent Council Cabinet Committee meeting agreed to end the agreement with Barnet Council which will lead to service being brought back into direct control of the Council.

I know at the time many were incredulous at the decision to outsource this service in 2014, but at the time there seemed to be a race to outsource everything.

Barnet UNISON is pleased with this decision and will be involved in the staff transfer at some time in the not too distant future.

This decision follows another staff transfer of social workers from The Barnet Group back into the Council in December 2017. Earlier this week we heard news of another group of staff transferring from NHS into Family Services.

Barnet UNISON will continue to campaign for all of our members in-house and outsourced.

Barnet Parking Service in-house option rejected in consultant’s report.

“It is a well-accepted industry fact that without careful management, the CEO workforce in any Borough, whether in-house or outsourced, will not always be as productive as desired with a corresponding impact on the issuing of Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs).” Oaklawn Consulting Limited report to Barnet Council, Environment Committee, 11 January, 2018).

This is the outrageous statement made by the latest in a long line of outsourcing consultancy companies that have earned literally millions of Barnet tax-payers’ money over the last decade as a result of the Council’s ideological obsession with outsourcing services.

Barnet UNISON campaigned vociferously to oppose the outsourcing of the Parking Service. We argued that a well-run in-house service was more than able to deliver a quality service and it had done previously until the agenda changed and outsourcing became the only game in town. Good operational managers were not appreciated and the Council became reliant on interim consultants who presided over the demise of in- house services.

The Parking Service, once a well-run service, suffered as a result of a series of poor managers and became a soft target for the outsourcing ideologues in Barnet.

However, the Parking Service in its final year, still believed that it could turn itself around and I was informed back then that they managed almost 165k PCNs (Penalty Charge Notices) which is quite incredible considering the last three months of that period morale was at rock bottom after they learnt the hard work was for nothing.

This completely demolishes the comment made by the consultant and it is an insult to local authority managers who demonstrated they knew how to run Parking Services.

Barnet UNISON has had to trawl through hundreds of pro-outsourcing reports over the last decade all trotting out the same mantra. We had hoped that the obsession with outsourcing was wavering but this report demonstrates that is not the case.

NSL took over the Parking Service in May 2012, yet there has been no evidence provided that they have been able to secure the same level of PCNs in the last five years.

Waste of money

In light of the cuts to funding it seems incomprehensible that the Council should commission a report on the merits of an in-house bid when senior officers have already begun the procurement process.

What was the purpose of the consultant’s report?

If the report was commissioned for genuine reasons then surely that means the procurement could have been undermined if it recommended a return of the Parking service in-house?

If that is the case then why begin procurement?

Why waste money on procurement?

If you want to know what is going to be discussed you can view the reports on Parking Service here



Press release: Barnet UNISON say no to instruction to send out understaffed crews for Bin workers.

On Wednesday 10 January 2018, Barnet UNISON was at a routine set of meetings at the depot when we were informed by management that the Council will not cover staff absence with an agency worker. This means that crews will be instructed to go out on their waste refuse rounds with a person down.

The street cleansing service workforce (staffed by workers who for example sweep the streets) has already been but by 19% after a recent Barnet Council decision. Now some of the waste and recycling crews have been questioning if the decision to send them out understaffed is part of anticipated cutbacks. To add to our concerns for the health and wellbeing of our workforce we can confirm there have been no risk assessments produced as a result of this management instruction which in our view places an unacceptable health and safety risk to all of our members.

Our members will know from listening to the news that the RMT union has been conducting a number of strikes across the country in relation to safety. For Barnet UNISON workers safety is no less an issue. They also know that the Birmingham Bin workers took strike action over attacks to staffing levels.

John Burgess Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON: “I want to make it clear to all our members that their health and safety is paramount to Barnet UNISON and that we do not agree with this management instruction. This proposal lies at the door of austerity politics and a view that you can simply keep on cutting with no thought to the safety of the staff having to deliver a service. Our members may not be doctors or nurses or teachers but without them our streets would quickly become toxic and unsafe. I urge senior management to rescind this instruction, allow our members to continue to deliver this vital frontline service unhindered by any further threats to their safety and remind Barnet Council our members “are not the rubbish they collect.”


Notes to Editors.

Contact details: John Burgess Barnet UNISON on or 020 8359 2088 or email:


Staring into the face of Armageddon

On 16 December 2014 Barnet Council voted for the second wave of mass outsourcing which if implemented would result on the Council workforce reduce to less than 300 staff.

At the same time Northampton County Council announced that they would do the same.

Our branch had by this time been fighting Barnet Councils mass outsourcing ideology for over six years.

Our branch was exhausted, our reps who fought in the first wave of outsourcing simply had enough.

Our branch took a decision that we would try to rally our members build more reps and give it a go.

What was there to lose?

2015 was a critical moment in our history.

The Council came for the trade union facility time, they wanted to reduce it to zero.

Then the outsourcing projects began to gather pace.

We made a simple decision to organise and fightback.

Barnet Unison Picket lines in July 2015.

Two things happened that happened that shaped our future.

Jeremy Corbyn turned up at our picket line outside NLBP, after this Jeremy never looked back and later became the Leader of the Labour Party.

Lastly, Mill Hill depot workers joined UNISON en masse.

It was a proud moment watching workers refuse to cross our picket line and sign up to join UNISON.

The rest as they say is history, more strikes, protests followed.

In May 2017, Street Scene the last service at risk of outsourcing was kept in-house.

Back in December 2014 we were facing an impossible fight, but after much hard work our members and services are still in-house.

As Bob Crow used to say

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

2018 promises to be another test for our members and our union, whatever happens I know we have the team, the members to take on whatever is coming our way.

Solidarity greeting to all of our Barnet UNISON members and a Happy New Year.








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