*****Important Update for Barnet UNISON Bin workers*****

Important Update for Barnet UNISON Bin workers

Dear Waste and Recycling Barnet UNISON members

First of all I want to say that you are all doing an incredible job.

I know that you have had no influence on the bin collection changes and that you have tried to tell the Council about the things that are not working over the last 11 weeks. .

I know many of you simply want to be able to go to work, complete your task,  finish, and go home.

Unfortunately the bin collection changes has brought significant problems for residents and staff.

What has Barnet UNISON been doing?

Barnet UNISON has had conversations with senior manager and Leader of Barnet Council.

Unfortunately the discussions we are having about the bin changes are limited because the information we require from management has not been provided.

We used to meet with management once a week at the Oakleigh depot, this was changed by management to fortnightly and now it is over a month (12 December 2018) since we last met.

What is wrong with the rounds?

The simple answer is we don’t know.

Only earlier this week we asked for information about all the rounds in ordee we can carefully go through each round in order to try to understand what is going on,

Unfortunately senior management are unable to provide this information at this time. This is what they said at our last meeting on 12 December 2018.

What do the workers say?

Over the last 11 weeks we have received the following feedback from our members.

Not in any particular order:

  1. Because of the split depots and the traveling time to and from rounds and to and from tipping stations (Hendon and Edmonton) area based working does not appear to work.
  2. The Round sheets were wrong from day one and are still wrong, which is frustrating for the drivers.
  3. Work has been taken off some rounds, but it is still showing on round sheets, no one appears to know why this is happening?
  4. The maps were wrong from day one and are still wrong.
  5. Assisted collections are still wrong.
  6. Route and round risk assessments have not been done
  7. The mileage being walked by the loaders is too great.
  8. The rounds are too big.
  9. Putting agency staff on the same round who don’t know the borough, don’t know where they’re going and who have had no banksman training is very dangerous.
  10. The trade rounds are too big and having only one loader is very dangerous, with R.A.T.S left uncollected for weeks because a big vehicle just can’t get in the alleyways.
  11. Restricted access rounds have been biggest problem, again because big vehicles just can’t get into small locations.
  12. Flat rounds have been a big problem, again because of access problems and the sheer volume of tonnage involved.
  13. Green waste rounds have been impossible to complete even a single day because of the size of the rounds.
  14. No lessons have been learnt from previous years about Xmas collections and the sheer volume of waste and Xmas trees to be collected.
  15. Bulking area problems, not helped by off-hiring1 artic cab, deleting 1 job and using the other 2 staff to drive refuse rounds, leaving 1 worker to run site.
  16. Too much recycling for the area to cope with, so it is up to the roof and left on site overnight. Add to this tons of green waste tipped in unsuitable holding bays also left on site overnight.
  17. Not all staff trained on new vehicles.
  18. Vehicles left full overnight and not fuelled up, causing knock on effects for the morning crews, also rat damage and fitters unable to do repairs, servicing and MOT’s.
  19. When work is left uncompleted, no proper procedures in place to identify what’s been left and on what round or road, with sometimes several crews sent out to clear up only to find work has already been cleared.
  20. No way of monitoring tonnages.
  21. Supervisors and managers unable to do their jobs because they have been out loading or driving.
  22. No procedures in place to pick up loaders to drop them off to other rounds to help them or take them back to the depot.
  23. Bin deliveries regularly cancelled
  24. Clinical waste regularly cancelled
  25. Hazard round too big to complete and regularly cancelled
  26. Fear some staff working over their driving and working hours to clear up work.
  27. Staff being abused by members of the public because of their frustration
  28. Members of the public reporting they can’t get through on the help lines and when they do no one gets back to them.
  29. Staff off sick with stress, depression and injuries.
  30. Household waste left uncollected for weeks.
  31. Trade waste left uncollected for weeks
  32. Flats left uncollected for weeks
  33. Green waste left uncollected for weeks/months
  34. Drivers coming from Harrow to pick up loader or vehicles in Oakleigh depot
  35. No shunts have been available
  36. Occasions where there may be up to 6 vehicles working on the same road
  37. Saturday and Sunday working almost since the new service started.
  38. High level of agency staff at both depots
  39. Lack of keys or FOB’s or codes on round sheets
  40. Some support crews cancelled
  41. Emptying refuse, recycling and green waste into same vehicle

Barnet UNISON Bin workers please check

If there is anything we have missed or there is something you want us to bring up in our meetings with management, please contact the Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk






World Mental Health Day 10 October 2018

Digital support links below

Type of application Application What does it do? Cost Notes
Mental Health Wellbeing Headspace Simple to use meditation app, can help with many mental health issues (i.e. anxiety or insomnia) 10 day free basics course. In-app purchases afterwards. Suggested by LD team

Barnet Voice believe this is the best app

Chill Panda Measures your heart rate and suggests tasks to suit your state of mind, including breathing techniques and light exercises to take your mind off your worries. Being tested by the NHS. Free on the Apple store
Cove Allows users to create music to capture their mood and emotions. Users can store their music on a personal journal, or send them to others. Free from the Apple store
ieso ieso is an online course using instant messaging for people with mental health problems. This is a confidential service that puts people in touch with a therapist trained in cognitive behavioural therapy. Currently not available in Barnet (available in Camden and Enfield) LD team suggest we omit
Reasons2 Free app designed by Young People and Washington Mind to help improve mental health. Allows people build their own profile of Reasons2 feel better. Free from Apple store and Google play
Cypher This is an anonymous peer-to-peer social network, that allows people to:

·         anonymously share their thoughts and feelings

·         post comments, ‘hugs’, ‘hearts’, and ‘me2s’ on what others share

·         instant message others in their support network

·         use the “Get support” function to connect with other support organisations

·         pick a virtual pet who gets happier the more good you do

This is currently being tested by the NHS.

Free from Apple store and Google play
EleFriends Online community developed by Mind. Moderated from 10am until midnight. Free from Apple store and Google play
RCPsych Mental Health App Provides information about key mental health disorders and links to relevant videos and podcasts Free from Apple store and Google play
Five Ways to Wellbeing App gives user ability to set wellbeing activities to complete throughout the week and reflect on progress. Free on google play
Wrap – Wellness Recovery Plan WRAP involves listing your personal resources (Wellness Tools) and using these to create Action Plans, to use in specific situations. Developed by a group of people who have lived experience of mental health difficulties. £4.99 on Apple Store and £3.03 on google play.
Happier Apple Watch app that is like your personal mindfulness coach – use it to lit your mood, take a quick mediation pause, or capture the small happy moments that you find in your day. Free on apple store and google play
Diary Mood Tracker Mood diary, that allows you to keep a track of your moods through icons and notes. This can help you understand your habits better. Free on apple store and google play
Depression and Anxiety SilverCloud Eight-week course to help people manage stress, anxiety and depression. Users work through a series of topics selected by therapists to address specific needs. Only available via an NHS referral or some non-NHS organisations, such as universities.
Stress & Anxiety Companion Helps people to handle stress and anxiety from a mobile app. Includes breathing exercises, relaxing music and games. Free on the Apple store
Catch it Helps people manage feelings such as anxiety and depression. The app records the user’s mood in three steps:

·         “Catch it” records and rates their mood

·         “Check it” asks them to take a moment to reflect on what they are thinking

·         “Change it” asks them to think of a better way of dealing with that problem

Free on Apple store and Google Play
Big White Wall Online community for people who are stressed, anxious or feeling low. There is also round-the-clock support from trained professionals. Users can talk anonymously to other members and take part in group or one-to-one therapy. Not available in Barnet. Individuals can sign up for £9.99 a month.
FearFighter Online course for people who struggle with phobias, panic or anxiety. Teaches you how to confront and change the thoughts that cause panic and anxiety. This teaches users to control their fears by gradually being exposed to situations that trigger them. Unclear if offered for free in Barnet. Privately, users can sign up for between £99 and £179. LD team suggest we remove this
Calm Harm An app designed to help people resist or manage the urge to self-harm. Based on the principles of dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) – a type of talking therapy. Encourages users to distract themselves from urges to self-harm and manage their “emotional mind” in a more positive way. Free from the Apple store
Mental Health Recovery Guide If you suffer from depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, and if you are a mental health outpatient, or a newly discharged psychiatric in-patient, this app will help you get well and stay well. Free on apple store and google play
WellMind Free NHS mental health and wellbeing app that helps with stress, anxiety and depression. Includes advice, tips and tools. Free on apple store and google play
What’s Up? Utilises Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) methods to help you cope with depression, anxiety, anger and stress. Free on apple store and google play
SAM: Self-help for Anxiety Management App to help you understand and manage anxiety. You can monitor your anxious thoughts and behaviour over time. Includes self-help exercises, private reflection and the “social cloud”, which enables you to share your experiences on the SAM community while protecting your identity. Free on apple store and google play
Mood Tools – Depression Aid Designed to alleviate negative moods. The app includes a thought diary, activities, a suicide safety plan and depression tests. Free on google play
Fear Tools – Anxiety Kit Designed to combat anxiety. Especially useful for those suffering from Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Phobias and Social Anxiety Disorder. The app includes a thought diary, an exposure programme to overcome fears and a breathing tool. Free on google play
Anxious Minds This app includes a support group, online peer support sessions, advice and tips and blogs written by anxiety sufferers. Free on google play
Talking Point Online community for anyone affected by dementia. The app is a space for people to ask questions and share experiences about any aspect of dementia. Free website
Recovery Record – Eating Disorder App App for managing your journey to recovery from eating disorders including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Intended for people with general eating, weight and shape concerns. This is based on CBT. You can keep a record of your meals, and link this with your treatemend team. Free on apple store and google play


Barnet UNISON: Fire Safety statement Barnet House

Dear Colleague

Following the tragic incident at Barnet House on the 15th of August Barnet UNISON raised our concerns about Fire Safety and Security at the building

These concerns included the failure of the alarm to sound throughout the building, including the area where the fire broke out. We also have concerns about the evacuation.

Since then UNISON members who were working in the building, including the area and adjacent meeting rooms where the fire broke have come to us and reported they did not hear a fire alarm, and the first they knew of the emergency was when they saw smoke and flames.  We reported this to the Council who took two weeks to confirm that one of the alarm points in the area where the fire broke out did not work and that the other had a planned 10 second delay.

On the 31st of August the Council removed the faulty fire alarm point leaving a sole alarm point in the area, citing that this fitted in with regulatory minimum requirements.

On the 31st of August UNISON asked the Council:

  1. While the regulations are that one should have to travel no more than 45 metres to reach a fire alarm point, it would be good practice for this distance to be reduced in the reception area on the second floor as people with limited mobility use the area
  2. Why is there a delay between using the single remaining alarm point in the reception area on the second floor and the sounding of the alarm?
  3. Are there other fire alarm points in Barnet House where there is a delay between operation and sounding?
  4. Will the removed fire alarm point be replaced?
  5. When were the fire alarm points in the reception area on the second floor last tested? The last record of the fire alarm point being tested is dated 16.3.18.
  6. How and how often are the fire points tested?
  7. Have the number of fire points been reduced in Barnet House over the last ten years?

To date there has been no response from the Council.

This morning following the Fire Alarm test at Barnet House the Alarm continued to sound in some parts of the Building. This led to some people evacuating the building at the same time as others were entering.  This situation led to confusion and worry for colleagues particularly for those who witnessed the fire in August. We have reports that staff on the third floor were told to evacuate. There was confusion over evacuations instructions on the walkie talkies and some staff evacuated and others didn’t.

The faulty alarm continued from 10.05 am to 10.37am.

Following this UNISON asked the Council why this happened and for confirmation that the fire alarm system was working.

The Council has not given this confirmation.

We therefore have no trust or confidence in the Fire Safety arrangements at Barnet House.

It is UNISON’s view that until the Council prove that the Fire Alarm can be heard in every part of the building and that every fire alarm in the building works then Barnet House is an unsafe place and people should neither work in it nor visit the site.

Our health and safety demands are as follows:

  1. A trade union rep accompanies the testing of each Fire Alarm point in Barnet House.
  2. On the second floor the fire alarm removed is replaced as a matter of urgency
  3. The fire alarms which have a ten second delay are replaced with Fire Alarms that go off immediately.
  4. Immediate alternative working arrangements off site set up immediately pending the resolution of the fire alarm system and evacuation plan issues.


Barnet UNISON has no higher priority than the safety of our members and that of the public whom they serve.

We will update on safety at Barnet House as there are developments.

Please note: 

We have written to John Hooton Chief Executive, Tim Mulvenna Chief Executive Barnet Group, Mark Dally, Partnership Director, Capita.

If you need advice or support please contact the Barnet UNISON office on contactus@barnetunison.org.uk




Incident on the 2nd floor Barnet House

ATTENTION all Barnet UNISON members.

You are probably aware of the incident that occurred on 2nd floor reception on Wednesday 15 August 2018.

If you have anything that you feel you would like to report or discuss in confidence, please come to the UNISON office and speak to our Branch Health & Safety Officer Hugh Jordan Hugh.jordan@barnetunison.org.uk

Barnet UNISON are working with Barnet Group H&S, chiefly Ben Wildman along with Capita H&S and Facilities  to address any failures which may have led to, or exacerbated the incident.

Barnet Homes have put counselling in place for staff who witnessed the incident, but ANY staff who feel they would like to talk to someone, please do not hesitate to contact the UNISON office on the first floor.

The Health & Safety of UNISON members at work is our top priority.

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