Breaking News: Update: Barnet Council bring back the Kosher Kitchen Service.  

Earlier today Barnet UNISON emailed the Leader of Barnet Council to instruct senior officers of the Council to make plans for Barnet Council to step in as the employer of last resort.

The Kosher Kitchen is owned by Barnet Council, there are 41 staff willing and ready to continue to provide a service to the children.

This would ensure that all Stage 2 children in 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).

will have access to free school meals from 1 September 2023.

There are only 5 weeks until the end of term it is important for our members and the schools that this matter is resolved.

Barnet UNISON meanwhile is busy working on appeals for our members who have had their redundancy pay claims turned down by the government.

End.

Notes to Editors.

Contact details: Barnet UNISON on 0208 359 2088 or email: contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Background:

Breaking News: Sacked catering workers have had redundancy claims turned down!

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/06/20/breaking-news-sacked-catering-workers-have-had-redundancy-claims-turned-down/

Update on the “Barnet 41” Kosher Catering Service workers

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/05/31/update-on-the-barnet-41-kosher-catering-service-workers/

Help our Barnet Schools Kosher Kitchen Workers

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/06/06/help-our-barnet-schools-kosher-kitchen-workers/

 

Breaking News: Sacked catering workers have had redundancy claims turned down!

Today our members (former Barnet Council Catering workers) who were sacked without notice because of their contractor going bust have started sending in copies of their rejection letters from Government.

Our members are devastated.

Barnet UNISON has arranged an emergency surgery tomorrow 21 June to look through the rejection letters and begin the process of appealing this decision.

But, in the meantime our members are without jobs and income.

Barnet Right To Food Campaign have set up a donation page here any contributions at this time will be much appreciated

https://tinyurl.com/22pz3xp4

“We are living in the most unjust time I have ever experienced. We have a government which feels no shame and has handed millions of public monies out to their friends, and nothing is done. Yet, here we have low paid catering staff brutalised by privatisation being given another kick in the teeth by issuing these rejection letters. The delivered a quality Kosher Kitchen service to Jewish schools in Barnet. The only thing that went wrong was that they were privatised and sold by Barnet Council to a contractor who then passed them another contract who passed onto another contractor until that contract went bust.

On 1 September 2023, London Mayor expects all schools to provide free school meals to all Key Sage 2 children. As it stands that won’t happen in the Jewish Schools these workers used to serve. Barnet Council should step up as the employer of last resort to guarantee free school meals and jobs for our members.” John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON).

End.

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

Background to this story can be found here:

Update on the “Barnet 41” Kosher Catering Service workers

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/05/31/update-on-the-barnet-41-kosher-catering-service-workers/

Help our Barnet Schools Kosher Kitchen Workers

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/06/06/help-our-barnet-schools-kosher-kitchen-workers/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking News: Barnet Council Mental Health social workers to be balloted for strike action.

13 June 2023

Barnet UNISON has today submitted their application for the UNISON Industrial Action Committee (IAC) to approve their call for members working across the following Mental Health Services Teams to be balloted for strike action.

  1. Mental Health Team – North
  2. Mental Health Team – South
  3. Approved Mental Health Practitioners Service.

The ballot is in relation to the chronic staffing issues across these services.

Barnet UNISON proposed that the Council enter into urgent negotiations over the implementation of the Council’s Recruitment and Retention Policy (RRP) for Mental Health Services as a short-term solution to try to hold on to existing staff whilst developing a more comprehensive plan to make Barnet Mental Health social work service one in which staff want to stay. The RRP has been used in Family Services social work for the last 6 six years and has recently increased the rate up to 25% in recognition of the serious RR issues in some parts of Family Services.

Key date dates of meetings to resolve the dispute: 

  1. Friday 24 February 2023 John Burgess Branch Secretary emails Executive Director – Communities, Adults and Health seeking an urgent meeting.
  2. Friday 10 March 2023 meeting with UNISON and Executive Director – Communities, Adults and Health. No agreement.
  3. Wednesday 12 April 2023 Adults JNCC UNISON and Executive Director – Communities, Adults and Health. No agreement.
  4. Wednesday 12 April 2023 John Burgess emails Chief Executive, requesting an emergency JNCG.
  5. Thursday Meeting 18 May 2023 JNCG. No agreement reached UNISON registers a Failure to Agree.

At the third and final meeting with the Chief Executive (18 May 2023) the ongoing lack of meaningful engagement on this matter was summed up at the start of the meeting when the Chief Executive advised he could only stay for 15 minutes.  This meeting had been requested by UNISON as per the procedures. The key decision maker is the Chief Executive who would have been briefed by senior council officers and would be aware that UNISON had already stated that if an agreement could not be found they would issue a request for a formal strike ballot.

In the final meeting UNISON announced that during the first three months of 2023 the following staff have left:

  • 2 Lead Practitioners.
  • 2 Senior Social Workers.
  • 2 Social Workers.
  • 3 Locums.

The two teams have a current establishment of 22 so a loss of 9 staff in a short space of time is further evidence of the chronic staffing issues in frontline mental health teams.

At the end of the meeting UNISON submitted their report and all the supporting documents.

In addition to the recent loss of staff UNISON provided feedback on the outcome of a survey of our members working across the teams.

1. Do think you are working in a safe working environment?

100% of members replied, NO.

2. Have you considered leaving your current role within LBB in the last few months?

100% of members replied, YES.

3. Do you think your salary is fair for the role you carry out?

95% of members replied, NO.

4. Do you think that you should be entitled to RRP?

100% of members replied, YES.

The responses were deeply troubling, and UNISON would have thought an employer would be concerned and want to address these issues. To date UNISON has had no response from senior management despite UNISON stating the door is open.

If management wanted to send a message to the workforce, they couldn’t make is clearer that staff views and their union are not worthy of a response.

End.

Notes to Editors.

Contact details: Barnet UNISON on 0208 359 2088 or email:contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Background:

UNISON calls for urgent action over chronic shortages of frontline Mental Health social workers.

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/03/22/unison-calls-for-urgent-action-over-chronic-shortages-of-frontline-mental-health-social-workers/

 

Brief History of Barnet Council grading structures.

Back in 2016 the Council moved away from how most London Councils pay their staff and agreed to a major change in how it would pay Barnet staff. Previously staff would be on a grade which would have several increments contained within the grade. A member of staff would automatically move up each year until they reached the top of their grade.

The current system is less transparent. Staff are still on grades but there are no increments. The only way staff can progress is through the annual performance appraisal scheme.

Each year, depending on the outcome of their performance appraisal, staff will be issued with a percentage increase of 0, 1, 2.25, 3 %, which process will continue until the top of the grade is reached.

UNISON, in negotiations before the current scheme, warned that linking performance to pay grade increases would create a problem when staff reach the top of the grade. Our warning was ignored, and staff are consequently upset when they realise that no matter how good their appraisal there is no financial increase because they are at the top of the grade,

What happens if I am at the top of my grade?

This is a question which is being increasingly asked as more and more members reach the top of their grade.

The simple answer is that you remain at the top until there is a change.

A change could be that your job description is out of date so would need to be updated and agreed on before going to a Job Evaluation Panel. The Panel would evaluate the new job description and produce a grade. The outcome could be that it goes up or down or remains the same. There is an opportunity for staff to Appeal the outcome of a job evaluation panel.

Restructures

Sometimes when a restructure takes place job descriptions are reviewed and if they change they are subject to job evaluation.

Change is coming.

Barnet UNISON is in talks with the Council about a new scheme. When the negotiations are complete the new scheme will be announced to the workforce.

National Pay

The other way that staff can obtain an increase in Pay is through National Pay negotiations. Barnet Council staff are subject to National negotiation on Pay each year. The outcome of the negotiations is applied to the grades as from the 1 April of that year.

 

 

Update on the “Barnet 41” Kosher Catering Service workers

picture of some of the catering workers

Update on Barnet 41 Kosher Catering Service workers.

Background:

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

End.

 

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.

 

End.

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

 

 

BREAKING NEWS: “The ballots are arriving; the ballots are arriving.”

Dear Barnet UNISON member

“The ballots are arriving; the ballots are arriving.”

The Ballot Papers have started arriving in our members homes. Its critical that all members act now. When you receive your ballot paper, please make sure you vote immediately. Please let others in your workplace know that you have voted and ask if they have had their ballot paper.

Remember it arrives in a red envelope and you are provided with a white envelope.

We need to beat the 50% target to have our say on Pay.

Over the next four weeks Barnet UNISON will be ringing members to confirm if they have balloted. If you have voted and posted the ballot back in the envelope provided you can let us know by sending an email to contactus@barnetunison.org.uk saying you have voted. This will help us mark you down as voting, and we won’t need to call you.

Lets get out the VOTE.

Best wishes

John Burges Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON

1 3 4 5 6 7 60