Barnet UNISON branch meetings September 2018

Dear Barnet UNISON member

It is important that our members are fully briefed as possible about what is happening in Barnet Council. We have organised a series of 8 branch meetings  throughout the month of September in order to discuss and to take questions.

Here is the agenda for all of the meetings.

  1. Capita contracts
  2. Barnet Council Finances.
  3. Fire Safety.
  4. Move to Colindale.
  5. Sick Pay deductions in Barnet Council
  6. Any other business

Please find time to join one of the meetings to held on:

Wednesday 5 September 12noon Committee Room 2, Barnet House

Thursday 6 September 12.30pm Central Room, Building 4, NLBP

Wednesday 12 September 12.30pm Committee Room 1, Barnet House

Friday 14 September 1pm Central room, Building 4, NLBP

Thursday 20 September 12.30pm Room G2, Building 2, NLBP

Friday 21 September 12.30pm Committee room 1, Barnet House

Tuesday 25 September 1pm Central room, Building 4, NLBP

Thursday 27 September 12.30pm Committee room 2, Barnet House




Meanwhile back in the real world #6 : Air pollution health screening

Barnet UNISON has written to Barnet Council in order we can discuss health screening for Barnet Council workers whose duties include working outside.

Barnet UNISON notes that air pollution is a serious issue that does have a critical impact on the health.

The Greater London Area identified 16 areas of the Borough as having high pollution (2017).

Barnet UNISON is proposing that a working group is set up with input from the Barnet Public Health service in order to develop health screening for Barnet Council workers who work most of their time outside

Barnet Council does have an Air Quality Action Plan 2017-2022 which can be viewed here.

Barnet UNISON believes that working to reduce the risk to the workforce from air pollution would aid and complement this Council objective.

We will report back to our members after our meeting on Tuesday 4 September 2018.


Meanwhile back in the real world #5 : “At last, London Living Wage for Cleaners in Barnet.”

In the midst of all the mass outsourcing over the last decade one group of outsourced Barnet Council workers have not had much coverage.

I speak of the cleaners.

Barnet Council outsourced the Corporate Cleaning Service in 2004.

The Corporate Cleaning service covers most of the main Council office buildings, schools, children centres and Libraries.

It was one of my aims back then to try and get this service back in house or at the very least to ensure the cleaners were paid as a minimum the London Living Wage (LLW).

The Corporate Cleaning Service has changed contractors a number of times since 2004.

It is now delivered by Churchill Service Solutions who are currently only paying £7.83 hour.

Good News.

  • After a number of repeated requests by Barnet UNISON to address about the LLW I can now announce that the Corporate Cleaning contract now includes a clause whereby the winning contractor will now have to pay their cleaners an hourly wage (or equivalent of an hourly wage) equal to the London Living Wage.

The current London Living Wage is £10.20 hour.

This welcome news, whilst we managed to secure the LLW for other outsourced contracts this has been a longstanding fight Barnet UNISON wanted addressing.

The tender process for the Corporate Cleaning contract is currently live and the new contractor announced later this year.

Barnet UNISON welcomes the decision to ensure our cleaners are to be paid the LLW.



Welcome to yet another “merry go round” restructure for 0-19 year olds

UNISON has been in consultation with senior managers every week since the consultation opened in early July. In a consultation ballot 85% of our members agreed with UNISON that the consultation should be extended by 1 month as fundamental to the restructure is a new model of working. So far this has been denied.

Progress has been made on some points, however. UNISON has been keen to avoid redundancies and to avoid staff members experiencing a detriment in their terms and conditions.

  1. Currently there are a number of senior staff members and managers who are at risk of redundancy.
  2. There are a number of workers in the Youth Service who would experience a reduction in their pay.
  3. There is also a feeling that colleagues are being expected to take on very complex work without the pay grade that this should attract.

Avoiding Redundancies

Consultation feedback strongly recommended that the Advanced Practitioner role be made available to those not holding a social worker qualification. This has been approved and so it is our understanding that the 4.5 social workers will be assimilated but the 1.5 posts leftover will be offered up to otherwise equivalently qualified staff to fill. Over time there will be up to 3 posts at the Advanced Practitioner level made available to otherwise equivalently qualified colleagues.

The proposal is that only 3 of the Team Manager roles should be made available to those who are not qualified as social workers. This means that ALL of those in the ring fence are applying for half the number of posts. In the interests of minimising redundancies we asked that all of the Team Manager roles should be made available to all of those in the ring fence and that over time, as a colleague leaves a post, then up to 3 of those posts would be advertised specifically for social workers. This suggestion has been rejected on the basis that decisions around thresholds are such that social workers are definitely needed in the role at this level from the start.

We are disappointed that no compromise is being offered on this role.

Pay drops and pay rises

The new proposed 0-19 Practitioner Role is causing the most tension. It is graded at “H”.

Youth workers are worried at potentially dropping down in pay as they are on “I” grade.

Family Resilience workers are upset at now leading on CAFs, something they had done prior to 2014 but was removed from their job description following the 2014 restructure and receiving a cut in pay. Now they have this back in their job role but without the pay. They are on “H” grade.

Children’s Centre/ Early Years workers are worried they will be expected to carry out a role for which they feel unqualified and ill-prepared (although they will receive a pay rise) and are concerned they may end up being dismissed through being judged to be incapable. They are on “F”-“G” grade.

The most obvious way of dealing with this would be to leave everyone in the role they currently have but to allocate colleagues so there is a mix of Early Years, Youth workers and Family Resilience workers in each HUB. Everyone continues working with the cohort they are used to working with and for which they have the training and at the level appropriate to their grade. This has been rejected as the expectation will be for each practitioner to be a CAF lead.

After consultation with the colleagues from the different areas who will be assimilated into the new job role we believe the most sensible way forward would be to offer a role at “I” grade which will deal with the more complex work and this will avoid the downgrading of any colleague whilst offering the prospect of pay progression for those already doing complex work without receiving the pay recognition for it. It also means there is a job role for those who do not want to manage the stress of handling the more complex work. This option is being taken seriously by the senior managers but it is unlikely that the number of posts available at “I” grade would be sufficient to recognise the numbers of colleagues who should be at that grade. We are being told that increasing the number of posts at “I” grade will result in redundancies. We believe this is unfair as the Council has certainly made much bigger, and financially much more detrimental, decisions than this. We reject a position which sees colleagues penalised in this way.

We have also asked for the job description to recognise specialisms within the role. We believe this is important for taking this service forward and for attracting and retaining staff to the role. We also believe this takes proper account of the particularities of the different stages of development for children.

This job role is an area of concern which will need further detailed discussion and is unlikely to conclude with agreement by the end of this consultation period. On this basis we will once again appeal for an extension.

Overtime payments

A number of services run during periods outside of the standard working day. A local agreement is being looked at to ensure these services continue and that colleagues will receive a proper payment for carrying out these services.

Your UNISON negotiating team

This comprises the Branch Chair and mostly newly appointed reps from Family Resilience Team, Youth Service and now Children’s Centres. They have been making an invaluable contribution to the discussions on behalf of our colleagues and continue to do so. Please keep feeding back to them your concerns and questions.

UNISON meetings

A UNISON meeting has been organised Tuesday 28th August 12.30pm-1.30pm in Walnut Room, Building 4 NLBP to go over our final position before close of consultation.

Your reps are looking at the feasibility of organising additional UNISON meetings elsewhere in the Barnet in the afternoon of the 28th August or on 29th August. We will advertise the details become clearer.


Meanwhile back in the real world #4 : “Our Pension Health check offer”

Barnet UNISON are able to help with

  • Understanding the Local Government Pensions
  • Understanding Annual Benefit Statements
  • Checking the Annual Benefit Statements
  • Checking pension calculations if you are retiring

Our Offer

  • consultation meeting on Local Government Pensions
  • Workplace seminars on Local Government Pensions

To book a 1 to 1 meeting or a work place seminar speak to your local rep or contact the branch office on 0208 359 2088 or email

Meanwhile back in the real world #3 : “Appraisal payments update 2”

Just a quick update.

Barnet UNISON met with the Chief Executive to seek assurances that the payments would be paid as they are contractual and Barnet UNISON has no hesitation in escalating if there are any lengthy delays.

The meeting ended with a commitment that they hoped payments would be paid in August subject to making the payroll deadlines.

However, until the payments are made this is a standing item with Barnet UNISON and will be part of our discussions with our members in our September meetings details of which are below.

Barnet House

  • Wednesday 5 September, 12 noon, Committee room 2
  • Wednesday 12 September, 12.30 pm, Committee room 1
  • Friday 21 September, 12.30 pm, Committee room 1
  • Thursday 27 September, 12.30 pm, Committee room 2


  • Thursday 6 September, 12.30 pm, Building 4, Central room
  • Friday 14 September, 1 pm, Building 4, Central room
  • Thursday 20 September, 12.30 pm, Building 2, G2 room
  • Tuesday 25 September, 1 pm, Building 4, Central room

However, if you need some advice or a meeting with a Barnet UNISON rep please contact the office on 0208 359 2088 or email


Meanwhile back in the real world #2 : “Taxing the sick update 2”

Barnet Council are in a serious financial crisis and are in talks with Capita as to how many services will have to be come back in-house. Staff are already worried with having to cope with more work and less resources without the added stress that the Council may start making mass redundancies in a bid to make more cuts.

It is therefore deeply troubling that the Council have announced that they want to consult on a proposal to deduct pay from staff off sick from work.

From the brief consultation we have had so far it is already very clear that the sickness levels are high with staff with serious illnesses such as cancer, strokes etc. hence we are calling the proposal “Taxing the sick”.

In September 2018 we are going to be consulting with our members on this proposal.

There will be opportunities to discuss the proposal with local reps at a number of Barnet UNISON meetings in September.

Barnet House

  • Wednesday 5 September, 12 noon, Committee room 2
  • Wednesday 12 September, 12.30 pm, Committee room 1
  • Friday 21 September, 12.30 pm, Committee room 1
  • Thursday 27 September, 12.30 pm, Committee room 2


  • Thursday 6 September, 12.30 pm, Building 4, Central room
  • Friday 14 September, 1 pm, Building 4, Central room
  • Thursday 20 September, 12.30 pm, Building 2, G2 room
  • Tuesday 25 September, 1 pm, Building 4, Central room

However, if you need some advice or a meeting with a Barnet UNISON rep please contact the office on 0208 359 2088 or email

Meanwhile back in the real world #1: “Don’t blame our members.”

This is a plea to Barnet residents not to take out their understandable frustration on our members working in Street Scene when their bins are not being taken away or their street cleaned.

For the past 12 months the work force has been squeezed whilst at the same time more flats are being built without any thought that more resources are badly needed to take away the increasing amount of waste and recycling and litter.

It is now well documented that Barnet Council is in a serious financial crisis, week after week the impact of senior management decisions are now being felt in Street Scene services. Cuts backs on staff and overtime cuts for street cleansing, inevitably means work will not be done.

We are getting regular feedback from our members that the public are furious when their bins are not collected or that litter is not being taken away on time.

Our members are proud to work for Barnet and frustrated that resources needed are not being provided.

If you are unhappy with the service please contact Street-based services (Including rubbish collection, potholes or graffiti) on Tel: 020 8359 4600 or Tel: 020 8359 2000.

For details on the current financial crisis click on an earlier post and here

“Both #Capita contracts are now on the menu”

Attention: All Barnet UNISON Capita members

On Thursday 19 July 2018 Barnet Council Policy and Resources Committee agreed that Options 2 and 3 will be tested in a full business case. This mean all staff working on both Capita contracts are now included in the options.

The full business case will be presented to a committee in the Autumn.

In the meantime Barnet UNISON will be hosting meetings in Barnet House and NLBP for our members in September 2018.

However, if you need some advice or a meeting with a Barnet UNISON rep please contact the office on 0208 359 2088 or email




“Our members need water!”

“UK weather forecast: Temperatures ‘could break UK record’ as pollution alerts issued in London”

Spare a thought for all workers who are currently working outside.

In Barnet Council we have a large workforce who work outside.

Bin workers, Street Cleansing, Parks are but a few of the services provided by Barnet Council to the residents.

We are proud of our members who have had to cope with relentless cuts to the size of the workforce at a time when new housing developments are springing up everywhere.

Our members had a difficult time during the winter weather, but the current heatwave is presenting a serious threat to their health and wellbeing.

This is London.

We all know there are serious air pollution issues in London. The long term exposure to air pollution will undoubtedly have an impact on workers who work outside.

It is therefore a surprise that when Barnet UNISON requested that staff are readily supplied with water and sun block to help prevent heat exhaustion, it was turned down.

This is even more difficult to understand when we are being told temperatures could reach 37C.

Our members are working with less staff but far more work as Barnet continues to grow.

Our own members are equally upset to see an increase in fly tipping and bins uncollected. But they are not the decision makers. They are not the people making cuts to services.

Barnet UNISON is now taking this matter up with our Chief Executive as we fear for the safety of our members.

We will update our members as we have more information.

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