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


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




Breaking Good News: All Community Schools to receive £150 Cost of Living payment

Barnet UNISON announced that Barnet Council would be making Cost-of-Living payment of £150 to all non-schools’ staff on grades A-E. Unfortunately, at the time the offer was made we were informed that this would not be made to staff in community schools for whom the council is the employer.

Barnet UNISON believed this was unfair as many of these members are low paid. We asked for Barnet Council to financially support Community Schools to enable them to make this much needed payment to their staff.

We can now confirm that we have just heard that Barnet Council have agreed one-off payment to school support staff on Grades A-E.

Please note this applies to all school staff for whom the council is the employer.

List of Barnet Community Schools are below. 




Cost of Living Crisis one off payment to lowest grades except in community schools.


Cost of Living Crisis one off payment to lowest grades except in community schools.

Yesterday Barnet Council has announced in an email to all staff that it will be making a Cost-of-Living payment of £150 to all non-schools’ staff on grades A-E.

Whilst Barnet UNISON welcomes this payment for our lowest paid members, we are concerned that another group of low paid female members working in Barnet Council Community Schools will not be receiving this payment from the Council.

We have been informed that Barnet Council will be writing to all the Community schools to advise them of the payment.

Barnet UNISON has asked for Barnet Council to support Community Schools to enable them to make this much needed payment to their staff.



10 Reasons why Barnet UNISON is recommending to VOTE Reject in the National Pay consultation.

1. The Truth about the Tories Magic Money Tree: Reject the Pay cut


2. Barnet UNISON Depot workers say Enough Is Enough


3. Big Thanks to Martin Lewis for speaking truth to power about the escalating #EnergyBillsCrisis


4. Big thanks TUC highlighting some of impacts of the Cost Of Living Crisis


5. Big thanks to TUC for highlighting why Energy companies must be brought back under public ownership


6. Barnet UNISON Depot workers rejecting National Pay offer


7.  “Why we must fight for a Pay rise and not a Pay cut.”


8. What Grade am I on?


9. Your Pay: The Tories Austerity Robbery


10. Barnet UNISON National Pay Offer Grade table



What Grade am I on ?

The table below shows the impact of the National Pay offer on each of the Barnet Council Grades

To help our members work out what the National Pay offer means to their grade we have put together a list of Job titles and Grades. Please see below.

If you need any support or assistance on this matter please contact the Barnet UNISON office at contactus@barnetunison.org.uk or ring 0208 359 2088



Why we must fight for a Pay rise and not a Pay cut.

Barnet UNISON reps at our Branch Executive meeting agreed that Barnet UNISON would make a recommendation to our members to reject the Employers offer.

Below are some of the reasons why we have taken this position.

  • Local Government Pay has fallen by 27.5% since 2010 because of 12 years of Tory Austerity Pay Cuts.
  • The latest offer is another Pay cut not a Pay rise.
  • The Tories Austerity Policy is to make us all poorer.

Politicians claim there is no magic money tree

  • Shell made record profits of nearly £10bn between April and June
  • BT Group announced profits £400 million in the first quarter of this year.
  • BT made “1.3 billion and gave £750 million to shareholders.
  • British Gas owner Centrica profits increased fivefold by 411% to £1.3 billion as our energy bills continue to soar.
  • BT CEO Philip Jansen earned a total of £3,460,000 up 32% from the £2,628,000 he received in 2021.
  • Railways made £5 billion in profit last year.

What Tory Austerity Policies are doing to us.

  • UK households face annual energy bills of £3,850, this has tripled since the start of 2022.
  • Household energy bills £500 a month.
  • 5.8 million people in England, Scotland and Wales, both in and out of work – 40% of universal credit claimants are workers.
  • 5 million people in the UK lived in food poverty between 2019 – 2020.
  • Workers are turning to food banks because they don’t have enough money.
  • Foodbanks are running out of food because they can’t cope with the demand.
  • School support staff are missing meals in order they can feed their own children at home.

What can we do?

Barnet UNISON members are going to carry out a National Pay survey. It is important that every single member completes the survey and posts it back. First, we need over 50% of members to vote in the survey. Second, we want most of those voting to Vote Reject.  “UK inflation could reach 15% by start of 2023, experts say” Every month inflation rises makes this offer worse for more of our members.

Barnet UNISON will issue the National Pay survey on Thursday 1 September until 5pm, Friday 16 September.

Members will receive an email with a link to the survey. Those with no access to email will receive a hard copy survey.


Barnet UNISON National Pay Offer Grade table

We have provided a National Pay Offer Grade table to show the grade information for all Barnet Council workers.

The Barnet UNISON National Pay Offer Grade table will show:

  1. Your current grade with hourly rates
  2. Your current grade with the employer’s proposal with new hourly rates
  3. Your current grade with Joint Trade Union demand with new hourly rates

What is the Joint Trade Union demand?

The Joint Trade Union demand was £2k or RPI whichever is greater. (this was before the escalating Cost of Living Crisis had taken hold of our economy.

Retail Price Index (RPI) is currently 11.8% which means the employers offer is less than UNISONs demand for all Council grades.

However, in the news they are predicting RPI will reach 18%.


On top of this bad news there is a National Energy Bill crisis. The average household energy costs are predicted to reach as much as £3,400 a year. Energy bills have tripled since the start of the year.

All the other Cost of Living Crisis pressures such as fuel, food, rent, mortgages, travel are all increasing with no sign of this ending.

It is important that UNISON secures the best pay deal for our members.

In the coming weeks we will begin a consultative National Pay ballot of our members.

In the meantime if you want any further information on the National Pay offer, please ring Barnet UNISON on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk



Cost of Living Crisis Claim Update 6 July 6-7 pm

UNISON NEC members, Unison Central, London UK

Guest Speaker: Andrea Egan UNISON President

Wednesday 6 July 6- 7pm

To join click on link below


Meeting ID: 811 8612 5559

Passcode: 850826


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