Update on the “Barnet 41” Kosher Catering Service workers

picture of some of the catering workers


The Kosher Kitchen Service was outsourced by Barnet Council in 2016 to ISS.

In 2021 and 2022, the Kosher Kitchen service, including staff, was TUPED to Signature Education.

On 1 March 2023 Signature Education TUPED the Kosher Kitchen service, including staff, to London Kosher Caterering.

The Kosher Kitchen Service used to provide a service for the following schools:

  1. Hasmonean Primary,
  2. Beis Yaakov Primary,
  3. Pardes House Primary,
  4. Menorah Primary,
  5. Sacks Morasha Primary,
  6. Rimon Primary,
  7. Mathilda Marks Kennedy,
  8. Beit Shvidler Primary,
  9. Nancy Reuben,
  10. Etz Chaim,
  11. IJDS,
  12. Menorah Foundation,
  13. Hasmonean High School MAT (2 schools),
  14. Kosher CPU.

When were the staff sacked?

Barnet UNISON is sad to report that the Kosher Kitchen catering service, after decades of providing school meals, was closed on Friday 5 May 2023.

At short notice 41 catering workers were asked to attend a meeting on that date when they were informed that the service was closing on the same day.

UNISON has been sent the HR1 form which sets out the details of redundancies.

The reason given for issuing redundancy is “insolvency.”

In response to this news Barnet UNISON has asked Barnet Council to take back the Kosher Kitchen service so that catering services to the schools can continue.

We have heard that many of the schools had no warning that the service would close, and no one knew who would be providing school meals the following week.

Our members are distraught as they had no idea that their jobs were at risk. All 41 staff were told to sign on as unemployed the following week.

In the meantime, Barnet UNISON has been arranging urgent meetings with our members.

Barnet UNISON is clear that the Kosher Kitchen service must remain open in Barnet.

“The One Barnet/Easy Council mass outsourcing policy has failed the Kosher Kitchen Service. It has failed to ensure schools provide meals for the children who relied on it. This is a service with a long tradition of providing kosher meals for pupils. Barnet Council must step up and save this service to ensure the pupils at the schools have a reliable excellent service going forward.” John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON



What does Barnet Council have to say about the request that the Council step in as the employer of last resort and ensure the children still receive school meals?

The Council states that it does not run Catering Services and that there are no statutory powers to ensure that the Council must deliver meals to schools.


Has Barnet Council ever intervened when services have failed?

Yes. See below.

  1. Council Housing repairs service

In 2010 Connaught went bust. They provided a council housing repair service. The workforce was sacked on the phone. UNISON asked for an intervention as all of the workforce were told they were sacked.

Barnet Council stepped in immediately, ensured meetings were set up with staff and speedily enabled another contractor to step in to employ the staff and ensure the services to residents continued.

  1. Home care services

Aquaflo, a Home Care provider, took over home care services and within weeks collapsed. Barnet Council stepped in and commissioned The Barnet Group to run the services.

  1. Resident and Day care services.

Fremantle (the contractor) said they could no longer run the residential and care service for older people. Barnet Council stepped in and commissioned The Barnet Group to run the services.

  1. Outreach Services

Genesis Housing said they would no longer continue to provide outreach services. Barnet Council stepped in and commissioned The Barnet Group to run this service.

  1. Education Services.

Global giant Mott Macdonald, who took on Education & Skills Services and the catering contract gave notice to Barnet Council that they wanted out of the contract.

Barnet Council stepped in and created a local authority trading company named Barnet Education and Learning Skills (BELS) to run Education & Skills services and directly contracted with ISS who had previously taken over the Catering services for Schools.

Capita Re.

Barnet Council made the correct decision to bring the Re contract to an early termination. The costs of bringing these services from Capita back is far greater than the Kosher Kitchen service. Until a political decision was made to run these services in-house the Council claimed they do not provide these services as they have a contractor.

Can schools choose who provides their school meals?

Yes, this has always been the case but when Kosher Kitchen service was run in-house the service was able to respond to the schools’ concerns and still ensure that hot meals were provided to the children.

The Kosher Kitchen Central Processing Unit facility is owned by Barnet Council and there is a long history of provision for Jewish Schools in Barnet. The in-house service built up an excellent reputation within Barnet Schools which enabled the Kosher Service to continue delivering hot meals.


What about the London Mayor’s pledge concerning Free School Meal provision?

It exposes the hard reality that unless there is an increase in funding the Kosher Service will not be viable. Food prices alone have increased by 20% but the funding for school meals has not increased.

This incident with the Kosher Kitchen service is likely to spread. The rising cost of food in what is the worst cost-of-living-crisis in 76 years is putting school meal provision in jeopardy.

More funding must be found for the Kosher Kitchen Service to be able to resume work for the start of the new term in September.

What is happening to the staff?

As from 5 May 2023 the staff have no money coming in. In a normal redundancy situation, there will be a consultation with staff and if the redundancy goes ahead the workforce will receive their redundancy pay and their notice pay.

In the current situation, as their employer became insolvent, employees had no warning and no notice pay.

This is the worst cost-of-living-crisis in 76 years and low paid workers are disproportionately impacted. This has had a devastating impact on these workers’ lives.

Staff must go online to claim their redundancy pay. This is proving difficult for many of the workforce, who are not familiar with completing online forms and do not necessarily have access to the appropriate facilities.

Furthermore, staff also must make a second online claim for a ‘protective award’. This is because they were given no notice of redundancy as their employer had been declared insolvent. This is yet another financial loss that these workers have to endure.

The claim for redundancy is further complicated because there are outstanding financial issues for this workforce unresolved before they were made redundant.

  1. Pension issues.

Many of the staff worked for Barnet Council and were in the Council Pension Scheme. We have discovered that two of the contractors have not paid Pension contributions into the scheme. This money is owed to the staff. Barnet Council is aware of this matter and has promised that it will support these workers. However, these workers need to know now what the Council is doing to get their money back. This is another financial loss that these workers have had to endure.

  1. Outstanding Pay issues.

Catering workers work term time only and therefore are paid using a term time pay formula.

Unfortunately, the term time formula they were being paid is incorrect. The incorrect formula they had in Barnet Council was continued with the TUPED contractors. This means they have been underpaid. This is another dispute that UNISON had taken up with ISS. The dispute has not been resolved. This is another financial loss that these workers have had to endure.  

  1. London Living Wage

The staff were all employed on the London Living Wage. Barnet Council stated that any contractor delivering a service must pay the LLW. Unfortunately, we have now discovered that following the first TUPE the staff have remained on the LLW rate of £10.85 which was the rate for 2020/21. This is another financial loss that these workers have had to endure.

Note to Journalists : Contact details: Barnet UNISON on or 020 8359 2088 or email: contactus@barnetunison.org.uk



National Pay Ballot: Meetings, meetings, meetings………

For Barnet UNISON members not working in schools

Dear Barnet UNISON member

Barnet UNISON has organised weekly 30-minute briefings on the National Pay Ballot.

The meetings take place every Tuesday 12.30 – 1 pm starting 6 June through to 27 June 2023.

The joining details for these Team meetings are below.

Barnet UNISON National Pay 30-minute briefing Teams meeting

Join on your computer, mobile app or room device

Click here to join the meeting

Meeting ID: 369 615 153 166
Passcode: 9khAuk

Download Teams | Join on the web

Learn More | Meeting options


For Barnet UNISON members working in schools.

Barnet UNISON has organised weekly National Pay 30-minute briefings.

The meetings take place every Wednesday evening 6- 6.30 pm starting from Wednesday 31 May through to Wednesday 28 June 2023.

The joining details for the Barnet UNISON National Pay 30-minute Zoom briefing meetings are below.

Join Barnet UNISON National Pay 30-minute Zoom Meeting below.


Meeting ID: 838 6822 4566

Passcode: 746996



Barnet Schools Joint Trade Union statement.

Over the course of the next three months the following trade unions will be or are balloting their members over pay.

  • NEU
  • GMB
  • NAHT

All the trade unions are seeking an improved school funding offer to address pay for staff and for the schools.

It is important that all the trade unions successfully manage to beat the 50% turn out in their ballot to build pressure on the Government to properly fund schools.

We are asking all our members to work together to make sure that they take part in the democratic process of the strike ballot.




Barnet UNISON National Pay newsletter

Last year, in the worst Cost of Living Crisis in 75 years, hundreds of thousands of workers – BT workers, teachers, lecturers, lawyers, nurses, ambulance workers, junior doctors, Border Force workers, bus drivers, rail workers, postal workers, tube workers, cleaners, admin call centre workers – all said the same thing:

“enough is enough!”

They followed the advice of their trade unions and voted YES for strike action on Pay.

2022 saw the biggest increase in strikes in a generation and the reason was the same for all workers: the system is broken. Most workers can no longer afford to live. In UNISON many of our members are low paid and are unable to survive on poverty pay. We hear so many stories of families where parents are missing meals to feed their children, where families are unable to heat their homes and where increasing numbers of members are now regularly using food banks.

Many members are trying to cope by having more than one job.

The sad and brutal fact is that every public sector worker is now working one day a week for FREE!

Instead of the Government putting money in the hands of the workers, workers are donating their hard work one day a week for FREE!


You can view our latest pay newsletter here





National Pay: Find out how much you really should be paid!

Whatever the politicians say, the cost of living is not going down, its going up. Which is why #UNISON is balloting schools and council workers for strike action for a real pay rise.

Look at the #UNISON pay calculator which shows what a Grade B worker needs to survive in the worst #CostOfLivingCrisis in 76 years Click on the UNISON link and follow instructions.



Here are some examples of Grade B workers in Barnet Council:

Gardener, Loader on Waste &Recycling, or Level 2 School Technician.



Barnet UNISON NEC nominations

Every two years UNISON holds NEC elections. NEC stands for National Executive Committee. This is the highest committee in UNISON and they’re responsible for setting out how UNISON is organising.

In this election members have a lot of votes for different groups of candidates. The turnout in these important elections is very poor which is why our branch is trying to encourage our members to take part in the democracy in our union.

What is the NEC?

The NEC is made up of representatives elected from all of UNISON’s regions and service groups, as well as seats for four Black members, two young members and two disabled members. It has the power to act on behalf of the union and is responsible for implementing UNISON policy and delivering on the union’s objectives and priorities.

UNISON’s rule book says we have to elect our NEC every two years.

When is the ballot?

The ballot opens on 17 April 2023 and runs until 19 May 2023. The results will be announced on 8 June 2023.

Click on link below to view the Barnet UNISON nominations for the NEC elections



Term Time Pay: What does it mean for school staff?

In 2018 UNISON lodged an employment tribunal claim against Greenwich Council on behalf of all term time paid staff. UNISON managed to negotiate an agreement which generated 5 years’ back dated payments plus a contribution to those in Council Pensions Schemes.

Term Time Pay (TTP) staff are paid using a formula that includes your annual leave entitlement. What UNISON discovered was that TTP staff were being underpaid. To put it simply not enough annual leave was being allocated to the TTP formula.

As a result of the Greenwich case claims began to be raised across the country.

In September 2019, Barnet UNISON lodged 52 TTP claims against 52 Barnet Schools and 3 contractors working for Barnet Council.

Over the last four years we have manged to secure back pay for 80% of our members in schools and contractors and we are hoping to complete the final 20% by the end of this year.

Why has Barnet UNISON written to Barnet Schools?

On 22 March 2023 we wrote to all Barnet Schools which implement the NJC National Pay Awards because part of last year’s claim included a permanent extra day’s annual leave. What this means is that the TTP formula will need to change to reflect the extra day’s annual leave entitlement.

We have asked each school to provide UNISON with the details of the new TTP formula. We need to check the formula is compliant otherwise there could be underpayments claims for our members. We need to be able to advise our members that they are on the correct pay.

In response to your questions if you think it helps this is the answer.

Why it’s going to take such a long time to get the back pay?

Because your school may choose not to respond to UNISON, or they may choose to delay the payment or find a way not to pay. If we can’t negotiate locally, we hand over to our lawyers and it can drag on for years in the courts. Once it is with our lawyers the branch has no control over the process.

What do UNISON members need to provide?

You will need to provide evidence for example payslips to show what you are being paid. You will also have to complete a case form where we will require more details about you.


Win the ballot: Fight for Pay meeting

Dear Colleague

This is an invitation for you to join thousands of other London council UNISON members at this meeting on Pay!

A groundbreaking event is taking place on Tuesday 21 March 6.30-7.30 pm when UNISON members from other London councils will be signing up for the first ever London Wide UNISON council & school workers meeting.

Barnet UNISON  Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 863 5870 6964

Passcode: 869860

The Cost-of-Living Crisis is unrelenting, and more and more workers are under pressure to keep up with increases in costs such as Food, Heating, Rent, Mortgages, Child Care, etc.

Council and Schools workers’ pay has fallen so low over the last 13 years that everyone is now working at least ONE day a week for free.

At the same time energy companies are announcing massive levels of profits whilst many of our members are afraid to turn on the heating.

UNISON Council and School workers now have the opportunity to add their voice to the hundreds of thousands of other trade union members who have already taken strike action over the issue of low pay such as: Transport workers, Royal Mail workers, BT workers, Teachers, Junior Doctors, Train drivers, Cleaners, Teachers, College workers, Border Control workers, Civil Servants, Barristers.

All these trade union members managed to deliver a BIG YES vote in their strike ballot.

In London we need to send a message about the hardship of living on low pay in London. To do that we need to organise across London councils in order for our members’ voices to be heard loud and clear in Parliament.

When is the Strike Ballot to start?

The strike ballot papers will start being sent out to members home addresses from 23 May to 4 July.

What can members do?

It is important that all UNISON members’ email Barnet UNISON branch at contactus@barnetunison.org.uk with their correct postal address and contact details including their telephone/ mobile number and email address.

It is critical to the success of the strike ballot that Barnet UNISON has the correct details and has your permission to contact you about the strike ballot.

 Phone banking.

We know from other trade unions the importance of speaking to members about voting and sending back the ballot papers. We are looking for help to be on the Barnet UNISON phone bank. If you would like to volunteer, please email us at contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

In the meantime, you can read the latest offer from the employer on our Barnet UNISON web site.

For Council workers click here https://bit.ly/3Jt4fkO

For School workers click here https://bit.ly/3l0HDyC




Barnet UNISON.


1 2 3 16