What do UNISON and the Mental Health social workers hope to achieve with the strike?

A recruitment and retention payment of 20%. This is less than the 25% recruitment and retention payment already given to some Barnet Children and Family social workers. Children and Family social workers receive between 15% and 25% recruitment and retention payment, Barnet Council offered adult social workers the equivalent of a 2.7% payment for two years only.

We feel that the payment will encourage more members of staff, particularly the most experienced, to stay in Barnet this reducing the frequent and destabilising turnover we have been experiencing. In addition, it aims to attract new permanent, experienced social workers who may be opting for work in better paid boroughs. It is only when we have stable staff numbers and crucially staff with significant experience in addition to newly qualified that we will be able to lower our waiting lists and provide the timely and quality care that we want to give to residents.

 

End.

Notes to Editors.

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

Background:

Breaking News: 100% vote by Mental Health Social Workers for strike action

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/09/04/breaking-news-100-vote-by-mental-health-social-workers-for-strike-action/

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

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/06/13/breaking-news-barnet-council-mental-health-social-workers-to-be-balloted-for-strike-action/

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/

 

Breaking News: UNISON issues notice of strike action across Barnet Council Mental Health social work teams.

Earlier this week UNISON formally notified Barnet Council of the dates of strike action for our Barnet UNISON Mental Health Social Workers who voted 100% for strike action.

The strike timetable is as follows:

 

Week One: Tuesday 26 September

 

Week Two: Tuesday 3 October, Wednesday 4 October

 

Week Three: Tuesday 10 October, Wednesday 11 October, Thursday 12 October

 

The strike ballot is in relation to the chronic staffing issues across frontline mental health social work teams in Barnet Council.

“Adult mental health social workers have the same qualifications, same skills and the same retention problems as children’s workers. The only difference is the value that Barnet is choosing to place on its workers and the value it places on providing mental health services that are staffed to meet the needs of Barnet’s residents.” Barnet UNISON Mental Health social worker.

“Our members are showing the same commitment to the profession they love as Junior Doctors to theirs in taking strike action. Drastic action is needed to keep Mental Health services safe and viable for them and service users. The service needs staff with experience. Currently no one is sticking around because the levels of stress and pay are simply not worth it. Our members are absolutely doing the right thing.” Helen Davies, Branch Chair, Barnet UNISON.

 

“I want to pay tribute to our brave Barnet UNISON members who have decided ‘Enough is Enough!’ We are in the worst Cost of Living Crisis in 76 years, the current pay for social workers doesn’t reflect the level of training and knowledge needed to be able to put up with the escalating levels of stress in a workplace which has been starved of resources due to 13 years of Tory Austerity (the first 5 years under a Coalition Government). When staff are asked ‘Have you considered leaving your current role within London Borough of Barnet in the last few months’ and 100% of staff reply YES, then Barnet Council needs to listen and submit a proposal that shows our members the respect they deserve.” John Burgess, Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON.

End.

Notes to Editors.

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

Background:

Breaking News: 100% vote by Mental Health Social Workers for strike action

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/09/04/breaking-news-100-vote-by-mental-health-social-workers-for-strike-action/

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

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/06/13/breaking-news-barnet-council-mental-health-social-workers-to-be-balloted-for-strike-action/

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/

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

North London Business Park, New Southgate. 08/07/15 Anne-Marie Sanderson.

Earlier this month Barnet UNISON met with senior managers in Adult Social Care to try to secure an agreement as to how to deal with the chronic and dangerous shortage of frontline Mental Health social workers across the two Mental Health social work teams.

Barnet UNISON presented evidence of unsafe staffing levels across the two teams where, in both teams, over 50% of the workforce are newly qualified and almost 40% are agency workers, most of whom have barely 2 years’ experience of working in Barnet. The situation has been brewing over the last 9 months and has reached a point where staff are demanding the Council must act to both try to retain the existing staff and recruit and retain new and experienced staff.

Barnet UNISON has been asking for the implementation of the Councils Recruitment and Retention Policy (RRP) 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.

Unfortunately, the response from senior management has been disappointing and, whilst an agreement to meet again soon was made, it appears they are underestimating the scale of the problem and the impact it is having on the morale of the workforce.

On 16 March 2023, Barnet UNISON made a formal request for a JNCC meeting at which we will table our trades dispute over RRP. Barnet UNISON has stated we are open to negotiation, but time is running out. The impact on morale and the health and wellbeing of our members working in Mental Health Services is paramount.

“I really don’t know what they are looking at when they look at the staffing levels for the two frontline Mental Health Social work teams. Our local reps explained concisely the levels of stress and anxiety being felt by the workforce and the inevitable consequences if the Council don’t act now. At the time of our meeting two senior social workers had already handed in their notice, yet it did not feel that management understood the seriousness of this news for the remaining staff. If the Council don’t work with us, I can see another exodus of staff. In the meeting I informed the management that we carried out an indicative ballot whereby 100% voted for strike action if the Council did not agree to RRP. Its nearly two weeks since we last met and I have had no approaches from the Council to meet.” (John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON)

End.

Barnet Tories 2023/24 Council Budget Plan to cut hundreds of jobs……

Barnet Tories 2023/24 Council Budget Plan to cut hundreds of jobs and the right to representation by a trade union.

Read details here on the Council website https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s76600/Conservative%20Alternative%20Budget%20Final%20Publish.pdf

In the biggest Cost of Living Crisis in over 75 years Barnet Tories have proposed an alternative budget that according to the Councils Chief Finance officer has this to say:

“Notionally this would be taking approximately 100 posts out of the services not mentioned above. This would have a significant impact on the delivery of those services and the S151 would advise caution in the delivery of this saving and the impact it could have on services.”

https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s76601/S151%20and%20Monitoring%20Officer%20Comments%20on%20Alternative%20Budget.pdf

 

This anti worker rhetoric sums up where we are politically. The only response the Tories have is to frighten workers with redundancies and at the same time take away the right of workers to organise and be represented by trade unions.

If they want to look at waste, Barnet UNISON warned the Tories of the dangers of their mass outsourcing ideology back in 2008. We warned it would lead to poorer services, mass redundancies and of course we warned that Barnet would become a cash cow to the contractors.

Take a look at Barnet Blogger Mr Reasonable and read in horror the latest figures of Council spend on the two Capita contracts read below

http://reasonablenewbarnet.blogspot.com/2023/02/capita-continuing-to-disappoint-in.html

 

To date Barnet Council has given Capita an eye watering £634 million of which £273 million more than the contracted value.

Back in 2012 Barnet UNISON was assured that Capita would be held to account, but the reality is that they have been treated differently to in-house services who have had to try to deliver services through austerity whereas Capita keep holding their hands out asking for more.

What was worrying at the last Audit Committee on 16 January 2023 is that the Council were not seeking compensation for poor performance and even more worrying that the Council is not monitoring Capita in the last few months of contract take a listen below:

https://aisapps.sonicfoundry.com/AuditelScheduler/Player/Index/?id=2329a97b-5ee9-40b6-ad39-aef3cce9a3b6&presID=b142792e21954335a5579e2a62fb46ef1d

 

The Tories spent £13 million to consultants to help develop and manage the mass outsourcing of services.

What about the decision to set the Council depot based in the centre of the borough ideally located to deliver frontline services to the residents of Barnet. A decision that saw services split between Barnet and Harrow. This model did not work, and the costs associated with moving services back to one location have cost millions with more still to be spent.

Barnet UNISON is proud of the hard work and commitment of all our members working across all parts of the Council including schools. They were quite rightly lauded as key workers, most of whom went into work when others worked from the safety of their homes.

We will continue to organise and mobilise our members wherever they are.

End.

Injuries at work – your rights explained

Injuries at work – your rights explained

Gerard Stilliard, head of personal injury claims at Thompsons Solicitors, outlines how you can access legal support if you have been injured at work.

The best employers recognise that proper health and safety is vital and take steps to ensure they keep their employees as safe as possible in the workplace.

At Thompsons, we see first-hand the devastating impact on workers and their families when health and safety is compromised – usually when management is under pressure to cut costs. That is why, as a proud partner of UNISON, we work with your union to actively promote the benefits of union membership and support you and your families with legal claims.

Your employer’s ‘duty of care’

Your employer owes you a duty of care, to protect your health, safety and welfare while at work. This include providing a safe work environment. They should:

  • Follow health and safety legislation
  • Conduct adequate risk assessments
  • Provide you with health and safety training
  • Supply sufficient PPE
  • Ensure equipment is in safe working order and regularly maintained
  • Reduce risk as much as reasonably possible.

If your employer has failed in their duty of care, and you have been injured at work as a result, you may be able to bring a compensation claim.

Making a compensation claim

The law requires employers to avoid risks entirely if this is possible and, if not, to minimise the risk of injury at work to the lowest level ‘reasonably practicable’.

Where employers fail in their obligation to protect you, UNISON and Thompsons will support your injury claim all the way to trial if necessary, but most cases settle well before they reach the doors of the court.

Giving you the best chance of success

To ensure your compensation claim for an accident at work is as strong as possible, you should try to:

  • Report the accident and your injuries to your employer
  • Record the accident in your workplace accident book
  • Take photographs of the place where the accident happened
  • Photograph any visible injuries
  • Find out the names and contact details for any witnesses
  • Keep a record of any visits to the doctors and treatments received, including receipts for any injury-related expenses.

The UNISON Legal Service gives you access to independent specialist legal advice from lawyers who are experts in their field. Using the union legal service is not only free, ensuring you receive 100% of any compensation awarded, it also increases the chances of your claim succeeding, because your lawyers can work with your local and national union representatives. You won’t get that level of compensation or support from any other law firm.

Here’s how our specialist teams can help

You can contact our experts for free advice and representation on:

 

Members’ families are also covered for:

  • Personal injury away from work, on holiday or on the roads
  • Special terms for medical negligence and wills.

 

Accessing support from Thompsons Solicitors

Thompsons Solicitors has been standing with unions and fighting for workers’ rights for more than 100 years.

Since we started in 1921, we have always refused to act for employers or insurers, only ever acting for the injured and mistreated. Every year, we secure millions of pounds in compensation for union members injured or mistreated by their employer.

For more information, visit Thompsons Solicitors’ website or call us directly on 0800 0 224 224.

Insourcing win at Barnet council

Insourcing win at Barnet council

Over 300 staff in a variety of services like trading standards, environmental health and other regulatory services, will now be transferred back in-house

Staff at Barnet council are due to be transferred back to council employment thanks to a decade-long campaign by UNISON.

The 330 affected workers are currently employed by outsourcing multinational conglomerate, Capita, and are being brought back in house after the council was used as a test case for the outsourcing of local government services.

The staff who work under a joint venture called ‘Capita Re’ in a variety of areas like trading standards, environmental health, planning highways and other regulatory services, will be TUPE transferred back in house on 1 April this year.

In 2012, much of the service provision at the council was outsourced to Capita on decade-long contracts by the Conservative-controlled council, with the intervening 10 years marred by several controversies including a multi-million-pound fraud and contracts running vastly over budget.

Barnet’s UNISON branch has campaigned for services to be brought back in-house since the contracts were initially handed to Capita and there have already been major in-sourcing successes at the council.

In May last year, Labour won control of the council after 20 years of Conservative leadership and, though the contracts had already been due to end next year, the new council has fast-tracked plans by six months to bring some services back in house.

John Burgess, Barnet local government branch secretary, said: “This is good news for staff, good news for residents and good news for the services. I welcome the decision and look forward to welcoming back all the services back into Barnet Council where they all belong.

“For a decade, our branch has campaigned for local government services at Barnet to be brought back in-house and, while we are happy that this latest has been fast tracked, there are still many issues to address for our members who are being TUPE’d.

“These include workplace inequalities such as staff being paid differently for the same role. Barnet UNISON is already seeking discussions with the council about harmonisation of the terms and conditions of the TUPE’d workforce.

“During the worst cost of living crisis in 75 years it is imperative that our branch does it best to look after the interests of our members transferring back into the council.”

https://www.unison.org.uk/news/2023/01/insourcing-win-at-barnet-council/

 

Emergency Barnet UNISON schools members meeting and advice

Dear Member

Early this week the National Education Union (NEU) announced that they have successfully completed a strike ballot for industrial action.

The NEU have announced the strike dates which will impact on Barnet Schools:

  1. Wednesday 1 February (England and Wales)
  2. Thursday 2 March (London, South East, South West)
  3. Wednesday 15 March (England and Wales)
  4. Thursday 16 March (England and Wales)

Our branch has already begun to receive communications from our members working in Barnet Schools as to what this means for them.

Today, Thursday 19 January 2023, we have received advice from UNISON National Advice.

Now that we have the advice we have decided to call an emergency Barnet UNISON schools meeting at which we will have speakers from the NEU. We have UNISON speakers ready to take questions on how we are going to support our members on these strike days.

The Barnet UNISON meeting is on Thursday 26 January 6-7 pm please click on the link below to join the meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85006232648?pwd=TC9lUWpWUWUyOTY1WjM3STBxQTk1Zz09

Meeting ID: 850 0623 2648

Passcode: 960864

Below is the UNISON advice to our members. We have highlighted in bold and underlined some key parts of the advice.

 “UNISON Advice

UNISON respects the rights of other trade unions to take industrial action and supports the other unions’ strike action. We urge members to support legal protests and rallies organised by NEU that take place outside your contracted hours of work.

However, UNISON members in schools and sixth form colleges have not been balloted for strike action or action short of strike action on this occasion and are therefore advised to continue with their normal duties and responsibilities.  UNISON members should not take on any additional responsibilities being given to them directly as a result of other unions’ industrial action.

Support staff should not be expected to provide cover for, or take classes, where this would normally be done by teachers who are taking action. Staff should not be moved from the duties they would normally have carried out in order to cover work and frustrate the industrial action of colleagues. This includes any staff employed as either HLTAs or Cover Supervisors. In Cymru/Wales, in workplaces where NEU members who are support staff are taking strike action, UNISON members should not be moved to cover those colleagues’ duties either.  Members who are under pressure to provide cover for striking colleagues should contact their UNISON rep, branch or region for further advice and support.

Members are reminded that due to industrial relations legislation only those employees who have been involved in a legal ballot are allowed to take industrial action.

HLTAs and Cover Supervisors

Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTAs) should only do ‘Specified Work’ with the support and/or supervision of a Qualified Teacher. Cover Supervisors supervise students who are working to a lesson prepared by a Qualified Teacher, usually a classroom teacher. If you are in either of these roles you should not be expected to take whole classes on the day of a strike if the teacher that normally supervises, supports or prepares your work is on strike.

DfE Guidance on Industrial Action in Schools (England only)

The DfE have updated and recirculated their guidance on industrial action in schools. The guidance is non-statutory, this means that schools are not obliged to follow the guidance.

Handling strike action in schools – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

The advice makes clear that for maintained schools the decision on whether to close a school or not is the responsibility of the headteacher, and for academies it rests with the Trust. However, this decision is usually delegated to the headteacher.

The guidance is aimed at headteachers advising them on ways that they can try and keep their school open. This includes guidance on the recent government legislation allowing agency staff to cover strike action. UNISON is currently challenging the legality of this legislation and it is not accepted by many agencies. If you are aware of any instances of agency staff being brought in to cover striking colleagues, please report this to your regional office.

The guidance also suggests that schools can use some of the emergency measures introduced during the Covid pandemic to keep schools open, including asking staff to provide remote learning. We do not that accept this would fall within the definition of normal work for support staff and they should not be called on to deliver remote learning on strike days.”

If you have any questions or concerns please contact the Barnet UNISON office on email to contactus@barnetunison.org.uk or ring and leave a message on 0208 359 2088.

I look forward to seeing you all at our UNISON schools meeting next week on Thursday 26 January 2023.

 

Best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary

Barnet UNISON

 

 

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