Social Care and Repair Workers 87% Vote Yes to Action on Pay

“If the those at the top can’t pay up then one of them should go so we do have money. We don’t need so many big Daddies.”

Anju, The Barnet Group UNISON rep

On a turnout of 70%, 98% agreed with Barnet UNISON’s pay claim and 87% said they were willing to take strike action in favour of the pay claim. The overwhelming majority of these are care and support workers.

Workers in The Barnet Group who are affected by the London Living Wage, having no enhanced rates of pay for working nights, bank holidays or overtime rates were surveyed in an indicative ballot for strength of feeling over these issues. Barnet UNISON’s pay claim was put to them.

Shockingly the lowest paid in The Barnet Group were given no pay rise for the whole of 2023! Paying the new rate of the London Living Wage 6 months after the new rate was announced with no backdate does not help the lowest paid.

The pay claim is: 

  1. Backdate the London Living Wage increase to £13.15 to the 1/11/23 and maintain differentials between other grades in YCB.
  2. Pay Overtime Rates of time and a half Monday to Saturday and double time Sundays and Bank Holidays.
  3. Pay enhanced rates of 25% Saturday 6am to 10pm; 50% Sunday all day; 100% Bank holiday (25% = time and a quarter; 50% = time and a half; 100% = double time)
  4. Pay an increased Rate of time and a third for night working (10pm-6am).

Barnet UNISON hopes that the results of the survey will lead to productive talks where consideration will be given to the demands. If no such consideration will be given we will progress to a formal ballot of these members with a view to taking strike action.

On hearing the results this is what some of our reps had to say:

“It’s a good result for us. Actions speak louder than words. We work so hard, we deserve it. We get no thank you’s.”

Tracy, The Barnet Group UNISON rep.

 “It’s time to act. It’s a call from the trenches.”

Pauline, The Barnet Group UNISON rep

“The COVID heroes have spoken. The Barnet Group needs to listen.”

Patrick Hunter, Assistant Branch Secretary for Barnet UNISON

“Most of these workers are skilled workers and yet they have rates of pay which are lower than for unskilled work. Is it because they are women? Is it because they are predominantly Black? If Equalities actually mean something, then this needs to be sorted.”

Helen Davies, Chair of Barnet UNISON.

 

End.

 

Breaking News: Barnet UNISON Mental Health social worker re-ballot results

Friday 23 February 2024.

Our Barnet UNISON Mental Health social workers re-ballot results are now in.

We had a 91% turn out with a 100% VOTE for strike action.

Barnet UNISON Mental Health social workers have already taken 27 days of strike action which equates to approximately 4,050 lost contact days for Mental health service users in Barnet.

Today UNISON submitted the results to the Barnet Council Chief Executive.

UNISON has agreed to go into talks with Barnet Council and ACAS. UNISON have agreed a couple of dates in early March.

UNISON has from the outset been prepared to negotiate to reach a resolution to what has become the longest running Mental Health social worker strike in UNISON’s history.

Barnet UNISON has agreed a new strike timetable with our members which will begin in April in the unfortunate event that we are unable to reach a resolution.

The strike timetable would be a significant increase in the number of strike days taken by the social workers so far.

  • From 15 April to 26 April 2024 (two weeks).
  • From 13 May to 1 June 2024 (three weeks).
  • From 17 June to 12 July 2024. (four weeks).

Our members are 100% behind UNISONs negotiating team and remain hopeful that a positive resolution can be secured to avoid any further strike action.

More news later.

End.

Bringing Services Home – Barnet UNISON campaign

 

Barnet UNISON is proud to announce that we are promoting UNISON Bringing Services Home campaign.

As a branch we have had more than our share of outsourcing. The easy Council experiment was a spectacular failure. It cost more money (yes, we told them it would!) and it did not lead to better services.

In May 2022, Barnet Labour Party won the election with a massive majority and one of their priorities was “Review of contracted out services, in the context of the new administration’s aspiration to bring privatised services back in-house.”

Last year Barnet Labour Party brought back one of the big contracts with Capita and other services on the other Capita contract have been coming back in-house.

The Council is going through a period of healing from the badly advised outsourcing ideology which dominated our Council for over a decade.

Today Barnet UNISON has written to all senior council officers responsible for outsourced contracts seeking a meeting to discuss how and when they are going to review the outsourced service.

Barnet UNISON also want to deal with the Ethnicity Pay Gap which the outsourcing easy Council ideology promoted by always securing the outsourcing option for services which are largely provided by Black workers e.g.

  1. NSL: Parking Services
  2. ISS: Catering Services
  3. Your Choice Barnet: Social Care services
  4. Norse: Cleaning services
  5. Blue 9: Security Services.

All the above services were outsourced under the Tories.

Barnet UNISON positively supports the statement of UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said:

“Black workers make a vital contribution to the health and care sector but are all too often at the bottom of the pay scale as care workers, porters, healthcare assistants and catering staff. They frequently face shocking discrimination, threatening their health, job security and life chances.”

This why Barnet UNISON is determined to work with the Labour Administration to bring back these services into the Council thus enabling real life meaningful changes for a workforce that is often invisible and often low paid and without occupational sick pay.

End.

 

Breaking News: Covid Heroes face the sack by Barnet Council

The Barnet Group is an arm’s length company 100% owned by Barnet Council.

On Friday 9 February 2024, Enablement Home Care workers were told that they were no longer needed.

“We are the best at what we do, that is why we look after people discharged from hospital for 8 weeks till other carers takeover.”

Care worker

“They should be expanding our service, not shutting it, what we do is vital and we do it well”

Care worker

Staff and Barnet UNISON left the meeting with the following questions:

  1. Enablement is a well-run and valued service – why isn’t TBG expanding rather than closing the service?
  2. What engagement has taken place with stakeholders – our tenants and clients?
  3. When will we know if this is a TUPE or a Closure?
  4. What are they consulting staff and UNISON on? UNISON is clear that TBG need to provide more details before commencing with 121’s?
  5. When will ‘consultation’ begin and how long will it last?

 Background:

This service was handed to TBG after senior officers working for Barnet Council spectacularly failed over the procurement of Aquaflo a private contractor who had been given the contract by Barnet Council to deliver home care for Barnet residents.

‘Disaster’ – Aquaflo Care company’s takeover from Housing 21 goes badly wrong.” 15th September 2016.

https://www.borehamwoodtimes.co.uk/news/14745911.disaster-aquaflo-care-companys-takeover-from-housing-21-goes-badly-wrong/

Covid: How quickly senior officers and councillors forget

It is only a few years ago that these workers were called heroes as they went into Barnet residents’ homes to provide care and support whilst many of the senior managers and councillors issued instructions from the safety of their homes.Barnet UNISON will be providing support to all of our members.

Barnet UNISON will be providing support to all of our members and in the meantime, we are calling on Barnet Council to reverse this decision and bring it back in-house to the Adult Social Care directorate where it belongs. The decision by senior officers is at odds with the Labour Party position on creating a National Care Service which is something UNISON supports. “Unison’s general secretary, Christina McAnea, told the Observer: “Care is in crisis and the need for a national service has never been greater.”

More news later.

End.

 

27 days of strike action as strikers re-ballot for more strikes!

Today is our last day of strike action. Barnet UNISON Mental Health social workers have taken 27 days of strike action which equates to at least 405 LOST working days to Mental Health services. Our members estimate that these days lost mean that at least 4,050 contacts for Mental Health services users have been lost.

It has been 162 days (six months) since UNISON notified Barnet Council of the intention to strike, yet senior management refuse to negotiate despite the obvious serious implications for service users.

Senior management are defending the indefensible they have lost control of the service, and they are doubling down on a strategy that is dragging the Councils reputation into disrepute.

Key points about our campaign.

  • Mental Health social workers support adults who experience mental ill-health to live safely and with dignity.
  • The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman says 4 – 6 weeks is a reasonable wait time for a needs assessment under the Care Act 2014. In Barnet mental health services, the wait time has reached 17 months.
  • 20 staff have left the adult social work teams in the last 18 months, and another has handed in their notice. Despite this, the council refuses to apply the same recruitment and retention payment to adult social workers that it applies to children’s social workers who are in teams with better staff retention rates.
  • Mental health social workers in Barnet are calling for the council to provide a safe service, no waiting lists and fair pay.
  • Mental Health Social Workers have taken 27 days of strike action (we estimate this works out to 405 LOST working days or 4,050 service user contacts LOST for Mental Health service users) since September 2023 but the Chief Executive of Barnet Council still refuses to negotiate.

End.

5 things you can do to support Barnet Mental Health social worker strikers

What can supporters do?

 

  1. Visit our picket lines all week commencing 5-9 February

between 8- 10 am see details on our web site here https://rb.gy/bwlesx

  1. Please sign Barnet UNISON email campaign to Barnet Council Chief Executive Please click on the link and follow the instructions. https://action.unison.org.uk/page/135744/action/1 Let us know when he replies.
  2. Please write by email or by letter to:

John Hooton, Chief Executive of Barnet Council John.Hooton@Barnet.gov.uk

Address: London Borough of Barnet; 2 Bristol Avenue; London NW9 4EW

Cllr Barry Rawlings, Leader of Barnet Council Cllr.B.Rawlings@barnet.gov.uk

Address: London Borough of Barnet; 2 Bristol Avenue; London NW9 4EW.

 

  1. Please send a solidarity message to our strikers by emailing our office at contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

  1. Make a donation to the Barnet UNISON Industrial Action Fund. Email the office at contactus@barnetunison.org.uk for details.

Solidarity Kingsley

Over the past few years Barnet UNISON has been working to increase the number of UNISON reps and Health & Safety reps.

One of the services we have targeted has been Street Scene services.

Kingsley is a good example of how our branch has begun to grow the UNISON reps not just for the present but the future. Kingsley works in Ground Maintenance and they use heavy machinery and equipment to carry out their work across the borough. Kingsley is eager to learn more about his Health & Safety role in order to keep his work colleagues safe.

That is why our reps are sending solidarity to Kingsley.

 

 

Solidarity from Liz Wheatley Camden UNISON

Liz Wheatley Camden UNISON Julia Mwaluke UNISON Vice President Helen Davies Barnet UNISON

 

Dear Striking Social Workers in Barnet UNISON,

We want to send further solidarity greetings from Camden UNISON whilst you are taking more strike action over the way you are being treated. It’s outrageous that your team isn’t deemed worthy of the same retention payments as other teams and services in Barnet – we know that there’s a real problem recruiting and retaining social workers across London, and a Council that doesn’t treat you properly will lose you.

For far too long, public services have been seen by Tory governments as a waste of money – they have grudgingly given as little as possible each year. However, we know that in reality, the services we provide are a lifeline for millions, and are what makes society function – where would we be without school support staff, refuse workers, housing workers, library workers and of course social workers?

We also know that you get the service you pay for – the kind of support you provide really needs continuity, it needs providers who aren’t over-worked and stressed, who have the time to find the best for their clients, and who simply have the time for their clients. So for your bosses to not even discuss how they can solve the retention crisis in your team is a real disgrace.

Not least because the money is there. A recent report from Oxfam this month has highlighted that the five richest people in the world have more than doubled their wealth since 2020. Their wealth has increased by more than £11 an hour. At the same time, the world’s poorest 5 billion people have been made poorer. So it’s not about no money in society, it’s about who has it.

Your strike is part of a bigger fight from our class saying that we should have more of the money available – for us, and also for those we provide a service to. That’s why it matters that you win, and if we can help you by bringing solidarity then we will. Last year, some members of our branch here in Camden took indefinite strike action for 59 days, and they had a huge win – they increased their pay by £5,000 this year, and above inflation rises for the next 2 years as well. The lesson that they teach us is that if you fight, it’s possible to win!

Solidarity to you all,

Liz Wheatley (Branch Secretary) and Jacqui Wallace (Branch Chair)

Camden UNISON

Liz Wheatley

Branch Secretary

Camden UNISON

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