Status Quo… Barnet Press – Front Page

In Barnet Press Mike Freer, leader of the council said “The status quo is not an option” Status Quo were on BBC this morning, 40 years in the business and still ‘rocking and rolling over the world!’ They have just released a Christmas record, not bad, but have to agree they are not an option for services for Barnet residents! Here is how the Barnet Press described it-

Future Shape – Branch meeting

National Secretary for Local Government

Heather Wakefield

Is coming to our Branch meeting.

16 December 2008, 12—2 pm

Conference Room, Building 2, NLBP

Guest speaker – Heather Wakefield, UNISON National Secretary Local Government

Agenda – Future Shape & Council Budget

Xmas Buffet is being provided

Time off for members to attend has been requested

UNISON response to Future Shape rally



It was an incredible response from staff & Barnet residents on a bitter cold December evening……….hot drinks, mince pies and carol singing all helped fight off the cold.

So what happened in the meeting?

Well some of you may have seen or heard reports on the local TV & radio.

And a link to photos taken at the rally –

It appears from listening to the Leader both on the TV and in the Cabinet Committee that the Trade Unions have jumped the gun.

The new public service model which is described in the report is “NOT about mass privatisation of the Council!”

That is good news….but it really is not clear in the report….we are not the only ones to apparently misunderstand the report. A Barnet resident sent the Cabinet report to the Plain English Campaign and this is their response:

Plain English Campaign’s assessment of Future Shape report discussed at Cabinet 3 December 2008:

 “I think your suggestion that the council is planning to introduce outsourcing is correct although when they couch their plans in such gobbledygook, it is hard to be certain.

 “Paragraph 4.3 seems to suggest that they are thinking of using ‘organisations other than the Council’ while paragraph 5.3 suggests staff could be transferred to other employers. And, the Council also seems to have considered the legal implications of what it is doing.

“In answer to your question about whether it is in plain (enough) English to serve the public interest, the answer is definitely not. From a plain English point of view, it is an awful document. It is so full of jargon and management speak that the message is hard to find. It is quite possible to write complicated stuff like this in plain English – in fact, as everyone is entitled to receiving information in plain English, it should be common practice to write clearly.

“Whether the Council is writing in this style to try to disguise what it is considering, or whether it is just a case of not thinking about the residents of the borough I can’t say. What I would do however is ask for the information in an appropriate style so that you, and all the other residents of the borough, are aware of quite major changes that could affect the way your council is run. And, as there seem to be huge implications for staff, I am sure they particularly need to be kept notified of what is happening.”

Councillors reaction

Barnet residents & Trade Union members came up to me and complained that they felt the councillor’s comments were rude and playing to the gallery. I am afraid that this has been a feature of both local and national politics for a long time. It is not surprising that there is such poor responses to consultations with the communities.

Wednesday 3 December 400 people felt motivated to find time to come along and take part in something we call democracy. Democracy means the right for individuals and organisations to lobby and give their views. Just because you don’t like what you read is not grounds for disrespecting other people’s views. What we saw tonight was deliberate misrepresentation of the trade unions’ report.

Clearly there is a serious lack communication not just with the trade unions but with staff and most importantly residents, I hope that rather than retreating behind party political jibes we are able to sit down and play an active part in the Future Shape programme. I would ask ALL staff not to feel disheartened but to take up the challenge and request YOUR Future Shape meeting in your workplace. According to the time table we have just under 5 months for the Council to thoroughly assess what it is doing now and how it might change?

Staff, residents and the Trade Unions are waiting for the next phase of consultation to begin!

Future Shape – Putting the record straight

Workforce Issues

One of the key issues for staff is what would happen to their terms and conditions of they were privatised.

We have raised this issue in our weekly meetings and have published Briefing 3 (amended) seeking a commitment to TUPE Plus. To date we have not had a formal response to our TUPE Plus proposal. The longer there is no response the greater the anxiety for staff.

We have had some comments made about potential future employment in particular this statement on the Councils Future Shape web page

Question: “The Council’s only signed up to TUPE, not TUPE plus.”

Reply: “This isn’t the case. The Council is committed to only working with partners that have admitted body status, or can offer a pension scheme better than the local government one. It is also committed to the Code of Practice on Workforce Matters, which means that staff transferring under TUPE to a partner will receive the same nationally negotiated pay awards as they would have received had they remained in local government. Both of these are TUPE plus as they are not covered by TUPE and they serve to protect the pensions and terms and conditions of staff.”

First of all we need to deal with the sentence “It is also committed to the Code of Practice on Workforce Matters,”

The simple fact is that the Council have not monitored or enforced the Code for staff who have been previously transferred. For the past three years the Trade Unions have been trying to ensure the Council takes this matter seriously, promises have been made but nothing has been done.

If the Council wants to allay staff fears of what may happen to them if they are privatised they need to formally respond to our Briefing 3 (amended) and ensure that the Council start enforcing the Code now.

Trade Union consultation

We do meet weekly and we have had a lot of discussions about various types of provision. Over the past two months we have published 6 Briefings but have not had a formal response to any of them.

Our Briefings relate to staff, service provision, contract monitoring etc. For some reason we have had no formal feedback which is undermining the consultation process and creating unnecessary anxiety amongst the workforce.

If there is nothing to hide then we need more openness.  

If the Cabinet agree the recommendations in the Cabinet report they need to ensure that communications are dramatically improved.

Cabinet report on the Future of Barnet Council published today

Just 7 days to go before the Cabinet meeting on 3rd December.

To view the full report click here

A detailed response will be provided shortly.

The report asks Council Officers to report back to 10 June Cabinet committee after completing a business and options analysis of the proposed new model of Barnet Public Services.

This report does not mention in house services.

We are asking residents, staff, service users and trade union members to turn up for the rally outside barnet House at 6 pm and attend the Cabinet Committee meeting at 7 pm 

Protect YOUR Pension!

Read it… sign it… pass it on! Barnet UNISON has created an ePetition to Gordon Brown. It is important that you sign it and pass it on to your colleagues to sign. Protect YOUR Pension To view and sign the petition click here

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