Out of Touch Barnet for Outreach Barnet Workers!

Equal pay for Equal work?  Does that sound reasonable?

Barnet Council’s Local Authority Trading Company, The Barnet Group, doesn’t think so……

New starters with Barnet Outreach carrying out the same role as TUPE transferred workers are now being appointed on considerably higher wages than the TUPE transferred staff. The Barnet Group initially ignored this equality issue and only because these workers joined UNISON have their concerns been taken seriously, but not seriously enough.

These loyal frontline keyworkers who were lauded for their support of the most vulnerable during the COVID Pandemic are being treated as second class Public Servants by The Barnet Group and Barnet Council.

In 2019 Homeless Action in Barnet and Genesis Housing workers who were providing outreach services to vulnerable clients on behalf of Barnet Council were told by their respective employers that they were being TUPE transferred into The Barnet Group, a Local Authority Trading Company fully owned by Barnet Council.

Since then, the Outreach Services have gone from strength to strength and expanded the services they offer. They have won praise and accolades from clients, The Barnet Group and the Council for the amazing work they do with the most vulnerable in our Barnet Community.

With the cost of living crisis and inflation soaring these workers are struggling to be able to afford to come to work. They need a resolution now.

Barnet UNISON’s demand for these TUPE transferred workers is simple:

  • Pay ex-Homeless Action Barnet and Genesis Housing workers who are now employed by The Barnet Group the same salary as new starters doing the same job as them in The Barnet Group.

So far, this reasonable demand has fallen on deaf ears in both The Barnet Group and in Barnet Council – which has meant that these workers have been left with no option other than to register this as ‘a failure to agree’ with The Barnet Group.

Equal pay for Equal work.

Simple really, isn’t it?

Unless you work for The Barnet Group….

“Talk is cheap, if Barnet Homes truly respect and value equality, they do the talk, they should walk the walk. All we are asking for is respect and fairness. It is not too much to ask.” (Barnet Outreach worker)

“How can it be that loyalty is punished in this way? If all of these workers resigned now from their job, a new starter would be on the better pay rates. Is this seriously the right message to put to workers? Are these the “values” Barnet Council chooses to defend? The solution is very easy. Commit to paying these workers what you know you would have to pay any new starter from 1st July.” (Patrick Hunter, Barnet UNISON Barnet Homes Convenor)

 

End.

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

Breaking News: Barnet UNISON submits Cost of Living Crisis claim to Barnet Council contractors

The following communications has been sent by Barnet UNISON to the following contractors who deliver services on behalf of Barnet Council.

  • Capita
  • ISS
  • BELS
  • Blue 9 Security
  • The Barnet Group
  • Norse cleaning
  • Nsl

 

Dear Contractor

On Monday 6 June 2022, Barnet UNISON, GMB and NEU submitted a Joint Trade Union Cost of Living Crisis claim to Barnet Council on behalf of all our members.

In the space of a week, we now some Petrol pump prices have reached £2 per litre with no sign that this will stop at this price.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/london-s-most-expensive-petrol-prices-cheapest-pump-prices-reach-ps2-capital-b1005124.html

I am submitting the same emergency Cost of Living Crisis claim to your organisation on behalf of UNISON and GMB members.

We are submitting the same claim to all contractors commissioned by Barnet Council to deliver services.

For the purposes of transparency, we are copying in the Chief Executive of Barnet Council.

Introduction:

National Pay Bargaining has failed to deliver meaningful improvements in pay for many of our members. Our members have endured a decade of pay freezes and below average pay awards which has seen our members lose on average 27.5% from the value of their pay since 2010.

Whilst we wait for the national pay negotiations to reach an outcome our members are facing the fastest fall in living standards since the 1950s. Inflation is forecast to peak at over 10% this year, the sharp rise in the cost of living is hitting our members hard. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has warned economic conditions are now unlikely to return to pre-Covid levels until at least 2024.

The UK’s biggest supermarket chain, Tesco, predicts food price inflation will soon hit 5%. The cost of many supermarket staples has increased far more than this already – the average price of pasta increased 41% last year and tinned tomatoes went up 29%.

Within these figures, some costs are rising at an unprecedented rate, such as gas bills at 28.8%, petrol and oil at 21.4%, and electricity bills at 19.2%.

What is of concern for our members is that the support measures offered by the government are not enough.

The Joint Trade Unions welcome the “Cost-of-Living approach: Debt and Financial Vulnerabilities workstream” report going to Policy & Resources Committee on 8 June 2022. (https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s72786/Cost%20of%20Living%20approach%20Debt%20and%20Financial%20Vulnerabilities%20workstream.pdf )

In particular we agree with Recommendation 3 which states notes the urgency of the cost-of-living challenges facing residents”. Some of our lowest paid members live and work in the London Borough of Barnet.

Poorer households are currently experiencing higher inflation – on average – than better-off households

As Trade Unions we recognise that we need to act in the interests of our membership in these unprecedented times which is why we have tabled three proposals to address some of the concerns raised on a daily basis by our members.

  1. Travel to Work payment

The cost of fuel is driving up prices both for car users and for those using public transport.

In terms of public transport costs between 2009 – 21 Bus & coach fares have gone up 88% and Rail fares have gone up 55%.

Petrol and diesel costs are at a historic high. Filling up a tank costs £17 more than just one year ago, but HMRC mileage rates have not been updated since 2011/12.

There are staff, keyworkers, who have no choice but to travel to work. They are not able to work from home. Throughout the COVID pandemic they have had to keep travelling to work and incurring their travel costs at a time when many other workers have saved money because they were able to work from home.

 Barnet UNISON/GMB is asking for a Travel to Work payment to be paid each month.

 

  1. Home Working payment

The COVID Pandemic forced home working on many employers. We now have a hybrid pattern of working where staff are still working from home with occasional days at the office.

Energy prices rose even more sharply from April 2022, when the price cap received an enormous lift and the average bill increased from £1,277 to approximately £2,000 a year.

In terms of some escalating costs which we believe impact on the Home worker, between 2009 – 21 House prices have risen by 53% and Electricity bills by 65%.

The Emergency Cost of Living Crisis has changed things dramatically. The energy bill hikes are putting many of our members under financial insecurity especially in light of further energy bill increases in the Autumn.

It is only fair that the employer should contribute to energy costs for those staff working from home.

Barnet UNISON/GMB is asking for a Home Working payment to be paid each month.

  1. COVID Recognition Payment

Last year the trade unions requested a COVID Recognition payment as a sign of goodwill and recognition that many of the frontline workers had continued to deliver services right through the Pandemic and when the vaccine was not available. Our request was turned down. As previously stated in our Cost-of-Living Crisis proposal many of our lowest paid are under serious financial pressure and they want a payment in recognition of what they did during the height of the COVID pandemic.

 Barnet UNISON/GMB is asking that Barnet Council makes a one-off COVID-19 recognition payment.

 

End.

 

 

Joint Trade Union Emergency Cost of Living Crisis Pay claim.

Introduction:

National Pay Bargaining has failed to deliver meaningful improvements in pay for many of our members. Our members have endured a decade of pay freezes and below average pay awards which has seen our members lose on average 27.5% from the value of their pay since 2010.

Whilst we wait for the national pay negotiations to reach an outcome our members are facing the fastest fall in living standards since the 1950s. Inflation is forecast to peak at over 10% this year, the sharp rise in the cost of living is hitting our members hard. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has warned economic conditions are now unlikely to return to pre-Covid levels until at least 2024.

The UK’s biggest supermarket chain, Tesco, predicts food price inflation will soon hit 5%. The cost of many supermarket staples has increased far more than this already – the average price of pasta increased 41% last year and tinned tomatoes went up 29%.

Within these figures, some costs are rising at an unprecedented rate, such as gas bills at 28.8%, petrol and oil at 21.4%, and electricity bills at 19.2%.

What is of concern for our members is that the support measures offered by the government are not enough.

The Joint Trade Unions welcome the “Cost-of-Living approach: Debt and Financial Vulnerabilities workstream” report going to Policy & Resources Committee on 8 June 2022. (https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s72786/Cost%20of%20Living%20approach%20Debt%20and%20Financial%20Vulnerabilities%20workstream.pdf )

In particular we agree with Recommendation 3 which states notes the urgency of the cost-of-living challenges facing residents”. Some of our lowest paid members live and work in the London Borough of Barnet.

As Trade Unions we recognise that we need to act in the interests of our membership in these unprecedented times which is why we have tabled three proposals to address some of the concerns raised on a daily basis by our members.

 

  1. Travel to Work payment

The cost of fuel is driving up prices both for car users and for those using public transport.

 

In terms of public transport costs between 2009 – 21 Bus & coach fares have gone up 88% and Rail fares have gone up 55%.

 

Petrol and diesel costs are at a historic high. Filling up a tank costs £17 more than just one year ago, but HMRC mileage rates have not been updated since 2011/12.

 

There are staff, keyworkers, who have no choice but to travel to work. They are not able to work from home. Throughout the COVID pandemic they have had to keep travelling to work and incurring their travel costs at a time when many other workers have saved money because they were able to work from home.

 

Joint Trade Unions  is asking for a Travel to Work payment to be paid each month.

 

  1. Home Working payment

The COVID Pandemic forced home working on many employers. We now have a hybrid pattern of working where staff are still working from home with occasional days at the office.

 

Energy prices rose even more sharply from April 2022, when the price cap received an enormous lift and the average bill increased from £1,277 to approximately £2,000 a year.

 

In terms of some escalating costs which we believe impact on the Home worker, between 2009 – 21 House prices have risen by 53% and Electricity bills by 65%.

The Emergency Cost of Living Crisis has changed things dramatically. The energy bill hikes are putting many of our members under financial insecurity especially in light of further energy bill increases in the Autumn.

 

It is only fair that the employer should contribute to energy costs for those staff working from home.

 

Joint Trade Unions is asking for a Home Working payment to be paid each month.

 

  1. COVID Recognition Payment

Last year the trade unions requested a COVID Recognition payment as a sign of goodwill and recognition that many of the frontline workers had continued to deliver services right through the Pandemic and when the vaccine was not available. Our request was turned down. As previously stated in our Cost-of-Living Crisis proposal many of our lowest paid are under serious financial pressure and they want a payment in recognition of what they did during the height of the COVID pandemic.

 

Joint Trade Unions is asking that Barnet Council makes a one-off COVID-19 recognition payment.

 

Joint Trade Unions = Barnet UNISON, GMB, NEU. 

End.

Breaking News: Barnet Homes ASSIST Strike – VICTORY!

Credit: Anne-Marie Sanderson

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.

End.

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

Background:

UNISON Official Ballot is on for “ASSIST” Workers to take Strike Action

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2022/03/02/unison-official-ballot-is-on-for-assist-workers-to-take-strike-action/

Barnet UNISON, Response to Barnet Homes ASSIST Proposals, 17/01/22

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Barnet-UNISON-Response-to-Barnet-Homes-ASSIST-Proposal.pdf

 

 

 

 

Emergency Cost of Living Crisis meeting

Dear members

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

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85415771085?pwd=aWVmVEdTcHdaT2hHa3BPZzV4UEQ0dz09

Meeting ID: 854 1577 1085

Passcode: 876061

End.

Barnet UNISON

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