To quote CeCe Peniston: “Finally!” (For those of us young enough to remember popular music of the 90s) https://youtu.be/xk8mm1Qmt-Y
On behalf of our members our Barnet UNISON Branch Secretary, John Burgess, has written to the newly elected Council Leader, Barry Rawlings, congratulating him on the success of the Labour Party and requesting to meet with him.
This is John making a statement to all Barnet UNISON members
For 20 years our members have had to deal with brutality of outsourcing and attacks on our time off to represent members. Our members in the Barnet Group, Capita, NSL, BELS and ISS will be expecting to see positive change for them. UNISON’s General Secretary, Christine McAnea has also been written to requesting her support for assistance in our discussions with Barnet Labour.
We’ll be providing regular updates to our members and our wider UNISON family and trade union community on our progress.
Join the Barnet UNISON Cost of Living Crisis meeting by clicking link below
Meeting ID: 857 4603 5877
Passcode: 801 103
Barnet Homes Assist plays the role of a fourth emergency service. They respond to the most vulnerable in our Barnet community, visiting clients in their homes or alerting the other emergency services after being alerted by an alarm call from a client.
The Barnet Group brought forward proposals just before Christmas to outsource or close this vital lifeline which serves 5,000 Barnet residents by the 1st of April 2022, all for the want of a budget shortfall of £160k.
Members requested a ballot for industrial action.
The ballot closed on the 16th of March.
77% of Assist UNISON members returned the ballot on time with 100% voting to take industrial action to ‘Save Assist’ and oppose the outsourcing or closure of this vital service.
“The Barnet Group has listened and has made a commitment to look at other ways in which the service can become financially viable in the long term such as investment in new technology to allow Assist to bid for more contracts. This has gone some way to allay the fears of the dedicated staff who work at Assist and the vulnerable clients they serve. Talks are ongoing with the staff and Barnet UNISON about the future for the Assist service. But what is clear that Barnet UNISON members in the Barnet Group or in Barnet Council will stand together to fight against any proposal to outsource Public Services.” Patrick Hunter, Barnet Homes Convenor.
“UNISON members at ASSIST were and are prepared to fight against outsourcing of this vital frontline service that serves the most vulnerable residents in our community – we clapped for them during the pandemic – and I applaud them now, heroes, every last one of them.’’ Helen Davies, Branch Chair Barnet UNISON.
“Massive respect to our Barnet UNISON emergency response key worker members who work for the ASSIST service. They voted (100%) to take strike action with a 77% turnout in response to their employer seeking to outsource them. Today’s response from the employer that they are no longer pursuing outsourcing is welcome news. We are shortly to have fresh talks over the future for the service.” John Burgess Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON.
Note to Editors: Contact details: Helen Davies Barnet UNISON on or 020 8359 2088 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
UNISON Official Ballot is on for “ASSIST” Workers to take Strike Action
Barnet UNISON, Response to Barnet Homes ASSIST Proposals, 17/01/22
The Cost Of Living Crisis is real and it we need a plan to defend and support our members.
- UK Big Six energy firms made more than £1bn in profit
- £40bn profits for BP and Shell
- Petrol and diesel prices are the highest ever and it’s likely to get higher
- The worst financial squeeze in 60 years, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
- Food prices rising
- Food banks usage increasing
- Rent rises, council tax increases, mortgages rising, water bills increasing.
All of this and yet
- MPs are getting a £2,200 pay rise when most of our members are only getting 1.75%
- The Government gave £37 billion for the Covid Test and Trace.
- The Government were handing out million-pound contracts to their mates during the pandemic
- Finally, the Government worked from home whilst many of our frontline members had to go into work without a vaccine in order to keep public services running.
- And let’s not forget the wine and cheese parties.
Barnet UNISON is calling a meeting of all of our members to listen to our members and discuss and agree a plan of action.
We want to hear real live experiences from our members.
- What is worrying you?
- What do you think your employer should be doing to help you?
The meeting is on Wednesday 30 March from 6- 7pm
Please see details for joining the meeting below.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 854 1577 1085
UNISON is balloting the ASSIST workers this week the result of the ballot will be announced 16 March.
- ASSIST provides this vital support to some 5,000 residents in Barnet and in Brent.
- For the lack of £160,000 a year the service is on notice that it is to be outsourced. UNISON has agreed to back these workers and will ballot all of them for official strike action.
- The Assist service, amongst other things, provides and maintains equipment to 5,000 mainly elderly residents of Barnet.
The most common of these items is the “lifeline” equipment which a resident would use if they fell. The resident would pull a cord or press a button on a pendant alarm which activates in the call centre and a decision is taken about whether someone from ASSIST needs to contact emergency services, a relative or go out themselves to emergencies. This support often makes the difference between someone being able to continue living at home or having to go into residential care.
During the Covid Pandemic the ASSIST service was rightly described as the “4th Emergency Service” by senior managers in The Barnet Group.
“Last Autumn we had the debacle of 74 care workers being given redundancy due to the closure of Apthorp Care Centre and now this! This service is so cheap to run and so valuable to thousands of residents of Barnet – it beggars belief that once again the lives of key workers are being thrown up in the air as soon as the crisis is over. We want Barnet Council and The Barnet Group which are essentially one and the same thing, to do the right thing and find a way forward which benefits residents and keeps a valued service in Barnet.” (Helen Davies, Branch Chair Barnet UNISON.)
“Keyworkers who were rightly praised by their managers are now rewarded for their hard work with outsourcing. At a time when Barnet Council are bringing services back in-house from Capita how can this valued service not been treated the same. If Human Resources, Finance, Recruitment, are needed back in-house why isn’t the ASSIST service being given the same treatment? I call upon Barnet Council to take back this service in-house and provide peace of mind for the 5,000 residents and the inspirational ASSIST workers who care so much about the service they provide.” (John Burgess Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON).
“The Assist workers have the full backing of Greater London UNISON for your dispute. You provide a vital service which enables vulnerable people to stay in their homes safe in the knowledge someone will respond quickly in an emergency. It’s a no brainer that your service benefits and supports the work of social care and the NHS. We want you to win and will support you all the way.” (Tracey Dalling Regional Secretary Greater London UNISON.)
Note to Editors: Contact details: Helen Davies Barnet UNISON on or 020 8359 2088 or email: email@example.com
- For more details on the ASSIST service and Barnet UNISON response click on our link below Barnet UNISON Response to Barnet Homes ASSIST Proposal
ASSIST ‘The 4th Emergency Service’
The Barnet Group have put out to tender part or all the services that our colleagues at ASSIST provide.
During the pandemic, Barnet Group management were calling ASSIST the 4th Emergency Service because of the vital services they provide to the most vulnerable in our community.
The service has been starved of investment, deliberately, by both the Barnet Group and the London Borough of Barnet, making it impossible for the service to ‘bid’ for contracts that would ensure the continuation of the service and enable it to expand.
UNISON have been informed that the yearly deficit to keep ASSIST open is £300k – but £140k yearly is the amount of unbilled service that ASSIST provides to the Barnet Group – and would have to be paid to any new provider, should any decide to bid on the tender.
Now LBB and TBG have decided that a new LBB directly funded role is merited in The Barnet Group a new ‘Head of Business Development & Transformation’ in Your Choice Barnet with a salary ‘outside’ of our Job Evaluation process but will be well in excess of £60k per year.
When will The Barnet Group and The London Borough of Barnet learn that it is frontline services to the public that should have priority when it comes to funding, not overpaid consultants?
What is to ‘Develop’ or ‘Transform’ if our services are privatised?
The message to the Barnet Group and the London Borough of Barnet is:
The only TUPE out of the Barnet Group that is acceptable to ASSIST UNISON members is a TUPE back in to LBB
where the service came from in the first place.
Please send messages of support to ASSIST
What does it say about our society when 93 care workers are sacked and barely a mention is made in the media or by politicians?
This week consultation closed on the decision to sack 93 care workers.
Barnet UNISON has submitted our report into the shocking sacking of 93 care workers in what has been a shameful consultation.
To understand our anger and sadness at what has happened I encourage readers to read our report which is online here or Barnet UNISON Response to Apthorp Consultation 22.10.21 FINAL
“Throughout the negotiation it emerged that the decision to vacate Apthorp had been taken by Barnet Council with no consultation with any other stakeholder other than Your Choice Barnet (YCB). The rationale for this has been stated over and over but the information underpinning this decision has been withheld. This has limited the trade union engagement to one of simply negotiating the redundancies rather than avoiding them. Consequently we have unanswered questions and we dispute the view that this discussion is not relevant to the trade unions.
The decisions around Apthorp directly affect the staff who are trade union members. Furthermore there is the potential for a significant knock-on effect in terms of the budget. As a result Barnet UNISON has been denied the opportunity to consider alternatives which may have ended up being less costly both on a financial and a humane level than the only option presented.” (An extract from the report)
What is deeply troubling is that this happened in the week of the CQC report “The State of Care”
Some of the headlines in the report are below.
- “The Care Quality Commission (CQC) says health and care staff are “exhausted and depleted” and working under intense levels of pressure.
- Urgent action is needed to stop a “tsunami of unmet need” rippling across essential services this winter, the care regulator has warned.
- Desperately needed social care staff are quitting their jobs to work in the tourism and hospitality sector because they are ‘burnt out’, the sector has warned.
- Exhausted staff are leaving the key worker roles to fill shortages in other sectors, as pubs and restaurants struggle to find enough staff.
“We have Covid infection levels increasing daily, an overworked and under resourced NHS staff, a deliberate lack of action/leadership by this government and lack of leadership from the political opposition in Parliament and a negligent national media, it looks like we are sleep walking into a health and social care crisis of biblical proportions. We will continue to do what we always do for Barnet UNISON members which is providing public support and standing side by side with them whatever is happening to them.”
(John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.)
Background to the Save Apthorp campaign
1.Update: 93 Covid heroes face the sack
2. Barnet UNISON request the right to speak on behalf of 93 Covid Heroes
3. What happened to the 11 Barnet Council Care Homes and day centres in 1999?
4. What is going on, just who owns Apthorp care home?
5. Update on Apthorp consultation: Save Apthorp
6. Join our We Are Barnet Save Apthorp lobby in person and online
7. A Tale of Two Priorities
8. Is Apthorp care setting closing or not?
9.Going, going gone, sold to…….what is going on at Apthorp?