Slough Council bring ALMO back in house

Slough’s commissioner for neighbourhoods and renewal James Swindlehurst (Lab) said:

“With its primary aim achieved, People 1st becomes an expensive organisation to maintain. Significant savings can be achieved by reducing the number of buildings occupied, and reduce duplication of services.

“The council needs to review how to maximize efficiency, reduce unnecessary overheads and ensure that tenants receive value for money and more investment in front line services.”

http://www.lgcplus.com/news/planning-and-housing/unitary-takes-housing-back-in-house/5010663.article

“Do you work in Housing needs and Resources or Barnet Homes?”

“Are you aware of the following consultation?”

Public Consultation on the Housing strategy 2010 – 2025 (draft)

http://www.barnet.gov.uk/index/council-democracy/consultations/housing-strategy-consultation.htm

Consultation ends 26 February 2010

The Trade Unions are going to submit a response. If you have any comments please send them by Friday 19th February to john.burgess@barnetunison.org.uk

“Do you think you should pay for their failure?”

  • Bankers bonuses are back
  • 20% Cut in Public Spending for the next thousand years!
  • 1 in 5 public sector workers could face redundancy

What could it mean to you?

If it is not your job it could be your partners, wife, husband, family, friends working in public services.

BUT it doesn’t stop there ……

losing jobs in public services has a knock on effect…………contractors delivering services for public sector will lose work and have to make cuts so more redundancies.

BUT it doesn’t stop there…..

Local businesses will lose business as unemployment soars in their community and people spend less……..

BUT it doesn’t stop there….

Escalating unemployment creates massive uptake in benefits…………..creates pressure on government, who will be taking less taxes and national insurance……less take up of occupational pensions……creating a massive dependency on future governments in pension credits……

BUT it doesn’t stop there ……………

As result of less income from business community, Councils will be forced to increase council tax…or cut more services?

BUT it doesn’t stop there……………..

No money, no jobs, poor prospects will see enormous rise in the number of people reaching mortgage arrears and forced to sell, leading to a demand for housing…….which will lead to an increase in Housing Benefit claims. Who pays for Housing Benefit?…ultimately it is the tax payer. Those lucky enough to work will be asked to pay more as pressure mounts on government to find funding to keep all these people unemployed!

DISCLAIMER

Financial Arrmageddon is based upon the opinions of financial ‘experts’ (and where were they before the global recession hit?) who are pushing the Armageddon scenario for Public Services. They claim the government must claw back £Billions from the Public Sector in order to clear the massive debt built up supporting the global collapse of the financial institutions!

If you want to read what the experts are saying click here http://www.cipfa.org.uk/pt/cipfasolace/download/After_the_Downturn.pdf

What do you think?

Mick Carter -remembering him

When we lose someone we try to remember them. Their face, their voice…….luckily we had a few pictures of my time working with Mick and a short video clip.

What is incredible about the video clip is that he is talking about Fremantle Care Workers campaign. All the things that made up the dispute were things that Mick cared passionately about.

I hope those of you who knew Mick will take some comfort from this short video.

Just click on this link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCCBqX36AUE

 

Mick Carter – Farewell

I am sad to report that Mick Carter the former GMB Convenor in Barnet passed away on 6th January 2010.  I understand his funeral is on 22 January at 10.00 am in the Robin Hood Cemetery, Birmingham. 

I worked alongside Mick Carter for almost 5 years. It was an honour and privilege to have known him. Mick was a trade unionist in and out of work; he maintained an energy and commitment to fighting for the rights of his members right up until his retirement.

Mick also recognised the importance of education and learning and spent many years as a TUC teacher at Hounslow College. He brought that knowledge and experience to Barnet and used it to encourage members to take up learning opportunities at work.

Mick is also the reason we have such a strong Joint Trade Union working relationship as he saw the importance of unions working together.

It is always sad when you receive news about someone passing away and you try to remember the last time you spoke to that person.  I am glad we have a collection of photographs from out brief time working together. This one brings a smile to my face when I see it.

Mick always used to sign of his emails with “Be lucky!”

Well Mick, on behalf of Barnet UNISON branch I want to pass our condolences to his family and to add

 “we were lucky, we were lucky to have worked and laughed with you.”

Your passing is a loss not just to your family and friends but the Trade Union movement as a whole.

Customer ‘don’t care Services????

Customer ‘don’t care’ Services

 

Aaaaaarghhhhh…….over the break I had the please of dealing with a private sector organisation as my phone line went dead before Christmas.  I am really, really sensitive about customer services now particularly as it is something Future Shape has identified as some thing that needs to be  improving.

We are being told we need to compare ourselves with the private sector as they set the new standards……I can’t speak for anyone else but I have not been impressed by customer services for some of the biggest providers in particular, the public utilities that used to be under public ownership but have now been sold off to large multi national companies based outside the UK.

I had to ring a 0845 number with my mobile, which concerned me and I had to make several calls all of which ended up in me hanging u p because I was going mad listening to the background music! 

I am sure this is familiar experience for many of you:

Press 1 for ……….

Press 2 for…………….

Press 3 for …………….

Press 4 for…………….

Thank you, in order to help us (?) help you please choose from the following

Press 1 for ……….

Press 2 for …………..

Press 3 for ………………………..

Thank you, we really want to help you, but first can you check you have done the following,

To help us (?) help you please choose from the following

Press 1 for …….

Press 2 for……

Press 3 for……

Or hold and a customer services operator will deal with you shortly……

Next you hear these dreaded words…

“We are experiencing high volume of calls and waiting times could be up to 30 minutes………in the meanwhile…….why not listen to some music while you wait….”

To listen to classical music Press1

To listen to jazz music Press 2

To listen to drum & bass music Press 3

To listen to easy listening music Press 4 

I eventually spoke to a real human being after choosing the option I was interested in purchasing their service (a potential new customer). 

Two visits from an engineer later I now have my phone back and a promise that I will not be paying for my phone for the next two months. I also took the opportunity to provide feedback on their customer services. I pointed out that all I want is a number to ring. I want someone to pick up the phone and sort my problems out. I added that I don’t want or like pushing option buttons and to be honest I have not met anyone who thinks this is good idea. My question is what customer feedback determined this is what we wanted? I have never been asked if I want this sort of customer service and that is for all services I pay for in the private sector. 

I ask this question knowing that this year will see the creation of a Customer Service Organisation see page 99 of the Future Shape Cabinet report

http://committeepapers.barnet.gov.uk/democracy/reports/reportdetail.asp?ReportID=8580

I have been asked by council staff

“Which services or staff will be going into this Organisation?”

I don’t know. I am expecting a meeting to be arranged to discuss sometime soon, but I would guess it could mean all staff who deal directly with customers/residents/citizens for their service. This obviously has implications not just for those staff but also for the service they leave.  

Lots and lots of questions which I hope we will be able to work through this year……………….

For those of you interested in this issue here are few links

1. Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jul/07/steve-bundred-public-service

2. Video’s

http://www.thesystemsthinkingreview.co.uk/index.php?pg=18&backto=1&utwkstoryid=177

Do you need to outsource?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=558zb9ihT1E&feature=related

Downside of outsourcing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJa7ZMs7KSg&feature=related

 

Who are the English Defence League?

On Sunday I attended a demonstration outside a Mosque near Harrow Civic Centre. The reason, to oppose plans by the English Defence League (EDL) to intimidate Muslims going to the Mosque.

Who are the EDL?

Well, in my opinion they are a ‘football hooligan’ unofficial arm of the BNP. It would not surprise me to learn that those in the EDL are also in the BNP.

The BNP have decided that they need to look address their image in order to appeal to voters, so this sort of thuggery would be bad for votes. So we have the EDL.

The turn out from across London on a very, very cold Sunday afternoon was fantastic and a big thanks needs to go out to those organisers.

Whilst the turn out was good, what was worrying was the official response I have been hearing to the EDL is to stay at home if they target your place of worship in order to avoid any incident.

I think this is a dangerous strategy which appears to allow these thugs to dictate when and where citizens can go to worship. I thought to myself, what if they had targeted St Paul’s Cathedral, would the advice to the congregation been to stay at home? I would suggest not, so why should Muslims in Harrow feel they need to hide away. We need to send a message to all faith groups that they have our support and should have the right to attend their places of worship without fear of intimidation.

As a Trade Union it is important that we are rooted in our communities and understand our members represent a broad cross section of faiths.

How to deal with EDL, BNP?

It would be foolish to think that by calling then Nazi’s (some of them were Seig Heiling today)

They are much more sophisticated and have recognised that mainstream politicians have lost the confidence of the electorate.

We need to address the issues that the likes of the BNP try to monopolise with sound bite outbursts.  

Today I saw them use the Israeli flag it is obvious they are trying to divide communities. It was good to see a Leader from the Jewish Community stand up and condemn them for using the Israeli flag and promote inter faith cooperation.

I think today was a warning to all our communities of what is to come in the run up to the national and local elections.

Nick Griffin is standing in Barking & Dagenham and I believe this will be signal the start of a London wide campaign to elect as many candidates as possible across London 

We need to organise quickly across trade unions, faith groups and local& national politicians.  

Unfortunately I don’t think this will be the last time I will be attending one of these rallies on next time I hope some of Barnet UNISON members may want to join me?

Public Sector cuts – Hypocrisy bordering on criminal!

£1.5 Billion in bonuses for bankers who wouldn’t have jobs if it wasn’t for public money. BUT it doesn’t stop there. Barely hours after news that Banks were going to be taxed when news is released that they are already making plans to avoid paying it!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/09/banks-bonuses-pre-budget-report

It get’s better…….

MP’s expenses

You have to read it to believe it!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/dec/10/mps-expenses-what-we-ve-learned-so-far

Remember Monty Pythons “Life Of Brian”?

“Always look on the bright side of life……???

£36 Billion in cuts in Public Services  http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8406670.stm

Public sector pay rises capped at 1%

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/dec/09/public-finance-policy

Dave Prentis, general secretary of public sector union UNISON said: “I am not going to sign up to this. I know how our Members feel – they feel angry and betrayed. It is just not on to make nurses, social workers, dinner ladies, cleaners and hospital porters pay the price for the folly of the bankers.

For details of his full response click here

http://www.unison.org.uk/asppresspack/pressrelease_view.asp?id=1674

 

Sheltered Housing residents are revolting

As part of our working with the community I can report that residents are marching on

30th November

For details click here 

7 December

A HISTORIC RALLY on behalf of Sheltered Housing residents who face warden cuts

Meet at TRAFALGAR SQUARE

Monday 7th of December at 3PM,

and march from there to 10 DOWNING STREET to hand in a NATIONAL PETITION at 4 PM.

It is a non-partisan event: members of ALL major political parties have been invited to join us in putting aside party divisions and thinking instead of the needs of Sheltered Housing residents throughout the country!

For more details go to their web site

http://www.shelteredhousinguk.com/

 

Democracy at stake in Hammersmith & Fulham

Barnet UNISON members who attended our branch meeting last month heard speakers from Essex and Hammersmith describe what was happening in their boroughs.

 

These Branches were invited because Barnet, Hammersmith and Essex are often quoted together as possible pilots of what council services will look like under a Cameron government.

 

What is happening in all three boroughs is very different which is why I am shocked to report that three branch officers including the Branch Secretary, have been de-recognised at a time when the whole workforce have been dismissed and re-engaged on inferior terms and conditions.

The issue has been brought to Parliament through an early day motion

See link below

http://www.edms.org.uk/edms/2008-2009/2116.htm

Please encourage your local MP to sign this motion.

The next five years are going to provide very challenging for staff working in public services. Our country has a proud record about democracy and belonging to a trade union is one of them. Trade Unions must be allowed to represent the views of their members. Attacks on trade union reps are an attack on democracy and must be condemned.

In Doncaster the UNISON Branch Secretary Jim Board was suspended for giving an interview on Channel Four.

http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2009/09/16/112581/doncaster-strike-threat-over-unison-officials-suspension.html

The response from local UNISON branches, General Secretary and the region swiftly brought the suspension to an end.

http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2009/09/22/112653/doncaster-council-reinstates-childrens-worker-jim-board.html

I fully expect to hear news that a similar response both nationally and regionally will bring an end to the de-recognition and allow the democratically elected UNISON officers to carry out their legitimate duties to represent their members.

I can report that UNISON members are currently being balloted on industrial action in response to the dismissal and re-engagement on inferior contracts.

I will ask for an update from the branch.

Report back from Lambeth UNISON

What is your name?
Jon Rogers

What UNISON branch?
Lambeth local government

What is your branch officer position?
Joint Branch Secretary (jointly with Nick Venedi)

Have any of your services been privatised? Please explain?
Lambeth was scene of what was at the time the largest privatisation in the history of English local government in 1997 when almost all our then remaining in-house manual workforce was privatised to a “joint venture company” part-owned by the Council. This proved a failure and the contracts are now with a range of different private contractors. We have had some successes in bringing privatised “white-collar” services (such as Housing Benefit and Legal Services) back in-house.

Do you know if there are any plans to share services with other public sector organisations in your borough?
We have not heard of any detailed proposals yet!

Do you have any privatisation proposals in your borough?
At the moment our ALMO (Lambeth Living) is proposing to privatise our emergency caretaking service, our Concierge service and the estate cleaning service (in those parts of the borough where it is still in-house). We have got the Council to agree to pay a consultant from the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) to work with us to try to respond to these proposals – and this work is underway right now.

What do you think will be the big challenges for public Services over the next four years?
We will face spending cuts and further privatisation proposals, as well as the shared services agenda. At the same time a future Tory Government will probably mount new attacks upon our trade unions for which we need to prepare.

What is your message to Barnet UNISON members?
Your branch is leading the way in showing how we should respond to the coming challenges and other branches can learn from this – but we cannot fight one borough at a time. We need to work together and to make the official structures of our trade union work for us as best we can. Right now I think we can make use of the national Union’s Million Voices for Change campaign to provide a coherent theme nationally for the fightback in local government and beyond. The Peoples Charter also provides a national framework, supported by the Trades Union Congress, for our local demands and campaigns.

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