Update on the “Barnet 41” Kosher Catering Service workers

picture of some of the catering workers

Update on Barnet 41 Kosher Catering Service workers.


The Kosher Kitchen Service was outsourced by Barnet Council in 2016 to ISS.

In 2021 and 2022, the Kosher Kitchen service, including staff, was TUPED to Signature Education.

On 1 March 2023 Signature Education TUPED the Kosher Kitchen service, including staff, to London Kosher Caterering.

The Kosher Kitchen Service used to provide a service for the following schools:

  1. Hasmonean Primary,
  2. Beis Yaakov Primary,
  3. Pardes House Primary,
  4. Menorah Primary,
  5. Sacks Morasha Primary,
  6. Rimon Primary,
  7. Mathilda Marks Kennedy,
  8. Beit Shvidler Primary,
  9. Nancy Reuben,
  10. Etz Chaim,
  11. IJDS,
  12. Menorah Foundation,
  13. Hasmonean High School MAT (2 schools),
  14. Kosher CPU.

When were the staff sacked?

Barnet UNISON is sad to report that the Kosher Kitchen catering service, after decades of providing school meals, was closed on Friday 5 May 2023.

At short notice 41 catering workers were asked to attend a meeting on that date when they were informed that the service was closing on the same day.

UNISON has been sent the HR1 form which sets out the details of redundancies.

The reason given for issuing redundancy is “insolvency.”

In response to this news Barnet UNISON has asked Barnet Council to take back the Kosher Kitchen service so that catering services to the schools can continue.

We have heard that many of the schools had no warning that the service would close, and no one knew who would be providing school meals the following week.

Our members are distraught as they had no idea that their jobs were at risk. All 41 staff were told to sign on as unemployed the following week.

In the meantime, Barnet UNISON has been arranging urgent meetings with our members.

Barnet UNISON is clear that the Kosher Kitchen service must remain open in Barnet.

“The One Barnet/Easy Council mass outsourcing policy has failed the Kosher Kitchen Service. It has failed to ensure schools provide meals for the children who relied on it. This is a service with a long tradition of providing kosher meals for pupils. Barnet Council must step up and save this service to ensure the pupils at the schools have a reliable excellent service going forward.” John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON



What does Barnet Council have to say about the request that the Council step in as the employer of last resort and ensure the children still receive school meals?

The Council states that it does not run Catering Services and that there are no statutory powers to ensure that the Council must deliver meals to schools.


Has Barnet Council ever intervened when services have failed?

Yes. See below.

  1. Council Housing repairs service

In 2010 Connaught went bust. They provided a council housing repair service. The workforce was sacked on the phone. UNISON asked for an intervention as all of the workforce were told they were sacked.

Barnet Council stepped in immediately, ensured meetings were set up with staff and speedily enabled another contractor to step in to employ the staff and ensure the services to residents continued.

  1. Home care services

Aquaflo, a Home Care provider, took over home care services and within weeks collapsed. Barnet Council stepped in and commissioned The Barnet Group to run the services.

  1. Resident and Day care services.

Fremantle (the contractor) said they could no longer run the residential and care service for older people. Barnet Council stepped in and commissioned The Barnet Group to run the services.

  1. Outreach Services

Genesis Housing said they would no longer continue to provide outreach services. Barnet Council stepped in and commissioned The Barnet Group to run this service.

  1. Education Services.

Global giant Mott Macdonald, who took on Education & Skills Services and the catering contract gave notice to Barnet Council that they wanted out of the contract.

Barnet Council stepped in and created a local authority trading company named Barnet Education and Learning Skills (BELS) to run Education & Skills services and directly contracted with ISS who had previously taken over the Catering services for Schools.

Capita Re.

Barnet Council made the correct decision to bring the Re contract to an early termination. The costs of bringing these services from Capita back is far greater than the Kosher Kitchen service. Until a political decision was made to run these services in-house the Council claimed they do not provide these services as they have a contractor.

Can schools choose who provides their school meals?

Yes, this has always been the case but when Kosher Kitchen service was run in-house the service was able to respond to the schools’ concerns and still ensure that hot meals were provided to the children.

The Kosher Kitchen Central Processing Unit facility is owned by Barnet Council and there is a long history of provision for Jewish Schools in Barnet. The in-house service built up an excellent reputation within Barnet Schools which enabled the Kosher Service to continue delivering hot meals.


What about the London Mayor’s pledge concerning Free School Meal provision?

It exposes the hard reality that unless there is an increase in funding the Kosher Service will not be viable. Food prices alone have increased by 20% but the funding for school meals has not increased.

This incident with the Kosher Kitchen service is likely to spread. The rising cost of food in what is the worst cost-of-living-crisis in 76 years is putting school meal provision in jeopardy.

More funding must be found for the Kosher Kitchen Service to be able to resume work for the start of the new term in September.

What is happening to the staff?

As from 5 May 2023 the staff have no money coming in. In a normal redundancy situation, there will be a consultation with staff and if the redundancy goes ahead the workforce will receive their redundancy pay and their notice pay.

In the current situation, as their employer became insolvent, employees had no warning and no notice pay.

This is the worst cost-of-living-crisis in 76 years and low paid workers are disproportionately impacted. This has had a devastating impact on these workers’ lives.

Staff must go online to claim their redundancy pay. This is proving difficult for many of the workforce, who are not familiar with completing online forms and do not necessarily have access to the appropriate facilities.

Furthermore, staff also must make a second online claim for a ‘protective award’. This is because they were given no notice of redundancy as their employer had been declared insolvent. This is yet another financial loss that these workers have to endure.

The claim for redundancy is further complicated because there are outstanding financial issues for this workforce unresolved before they were made redundant.

  1. Pension issues.

Many of the staff worked for Barnet Council and were in the Council Pension Scheme. We have discovered that two of the contractors have not paid Pension contributions into the scheme. This money is owed to the staff. Barnet Council is aware of this matter and has promised that it will support these workers. However, these workers need to know now what the Council is doing to get their money back. This is another financial loss that these workers have had to endure.

  1. Outstanding Pay issues.

Catering workers work term time only and therefore are paid using a term time pay formula.

Unfortunately, the term time formula they were being paid is incorrect. The incorrect formula they had in Barnet Council was continued with the TUPED contractors. This means they have been underpaid. This is another dispute that UNISON had taken up with ISS. The dispute has not been resolved. This is another financial loss that these workers have had to endure.  

  1. London Living Wage

The staff were all employed on the London Living Wage. Barnet Council stated that any contractor delivering a service must pay the LLW. Unfortunately, we have now discovered that following the first TUPE the staff have remained on the LLW rate of £10.85 which was the rate for 2020/21. This is another financial loss that these workers have had to endure.



Note to Journalists : Contact details: Barnet UNISON on or 020 8359 2088 or email: contactus@barnetunison.org.uk



Barnet Schools Joint Trade Union statement.

Over the course of the next three months the following trade unions will be or are balloting their members over pay.

  • NEU
  • GMB
  • NAHT

All the trade unions are seeking an improved school funding offer to address pay for staff and for the schools.

It is important that all the trade unions successfully manage to beat the 50% turn out in their ballot to build pressure on the Government to properly fund schools.

We are asking all our members to work together to make sure that they take part in the democratic process of the strike ballot.




Term Time Pay: What does it mean for school staff?

In 2018 UNISON lodged an employment tribunal claim against Greenwich Council on behalf of all term time paid staff. UNISON managed to negotiate an agreement which generated 5 years’ back dated payments plus a contribution to those in Council Pensions Schemes.

Term Time Pay (TTP) staff are paid using a formula that includes your annual leave entitlement. What UNISON discovered was that TTP staff were being underpaid. To put it simply not enough annual leave was being allocated to the TTP formula.

As a result of the Greenwich case claims began to be raised across the country.

In September 2019, Barnet UNISON lodged 52 TTP claims against 52 Barnet Schools and 3 contractors working for Barnet Council.

Over the last four years we have manged to secure back pay for 80% of our members in schools and contractors and we are hoping to complete the final 20% by the end of this year.

Why has Barnet UNISON written to Barnet Schools?

On 22 March 2023 we wrote to all Barnet Schools which implement the NJC National Pay Awards because part of last year’s claim included a permanent extra day’s annual leave. What this means is that the TTP formula will need to change to reflect the extra day’s annual leave entitlement.

We have asked each school to provide UNISON with the details of the new TTP formula. We need to check the formula is compliant otherwise there could be underpayments claims for our members. We need to be able to advise our members that they are on the correct pay.

In response to your questions if you think it helps this is the answer.

Why it’s going to take such a long time to get the back pay?

Because your school may choose not to respond to UNISON, or they may choose to delay the payment or find a way not to pay. If we can’t negotiate locally, we hand over to our lawyers and it can drag on for years in the courts. Once it is with our lawyers the branch has no control over the process.

What do UNISON members need to provide?

You will need to provide evidence for example payslips to show what you are being paid. You will also have to complete a case form where we will require more details about you.


Win the ballot: Fight for Pay meeting

Dear Colleague

This is an invitation for you to join thousands of other London council UNISON members at this meeting on Pay!

A groundbreaking event is taking place on Tuesday 21 March 6.30-7.30 pm when UNISON members from other London councils will be signing up for the first ever London Wide UNISON council & school workers meeting.

Barnet UNISON  Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 863 5870 6964

Passcode: 869860

The Cost-of-Living Crisis is unrelenting, and more and more workers are under pressure to keep up with increases in costs such as Food, Heating, Rent, Mortgages, Child Care, etc.

Council and Schools workers’ pay has fallen so low over the last 13 years that everyone is now working at least ONE day a week for free.

At the same time energy companies are announcing massive levels of profits whilst many of our members are afraid to turn on the heating.

UNISON Council and School workers now have the opportunity to add their voice to the hundreds of thousands of other trade union members who have already taken strike action over the issue of low pay such as: Transport workers, Royal Mail workers, BT workers, Teachers, Junior Doctors, Train drivers, Cleaners, Teachers, College workers, Border Control workers, Civil Servants, Barristers.

All these trade union members managed to deliver a BIG YES vote in their strike ballot.

In London we need to send a message about the hardship of living on low pay in London. To do that we need to organise across London councils in order for our members’ voices to be heard loud and clear in Parliament.

When is the Strike Ballot to start?

The strike ballot papers will start being sent out to members home addresses from 23 May to 4 July.

What can members do?

It is important that all UNISON members’ email Barnet UNISON branch at contactus@barnetunison.org.uk with their correct postal address and contact details including their telephone/ mobile number and email address.

It is critical to the success of the strike ballot that Barnet UNISON has the correct details and has your permission to contact you about the strike ballot.

 Phone banking.

We know from other trade unions the importance of speaking to members about voting and sending back the ballot papers. We are looking for help to be on the Barnet UNISON phone bank. If you would like to volunteer, please email us at contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

In the meantime, you can read the latest offer from the employer on our Barnet UNISON web site.

For Council workers click here https://bit.ly/3Jt4fkO

For School workers click here https://bit.ly/3l0HDyC




Barnet UNISON.


“Industrial action looms as employers offer is yet another pay cut for School staff and Council workers.” Term Time Pay version.

Last year the employer made a lump sum payment in London which equated to £2,229, which still worked out as another pay cut for all members. This is important to note as we are still in the worst Cost of Living Crisis in 75 years and there are no signs of any improvement on the horizon.

This year the Trade Unions submitted a claim for RPI plus 2% which works out at 12.7% across all grades.

The Employer has responded with the same amount as last year which is £2,229 to those workers up to spinal column 42 and 3.8% to those above (which impacts Grades K and L).

This is another Pay Cut for our members. Last year when we consulted Barnet UNISON members over the same offer 89% voted to reject and demand an industrial strike ballot. We had the highest turnout of UNISON votes across UNISON members in other London Councils.

We are now waiting to hear what UNISON National negotiators have to say about the offer.

In the meantime, we want as many of our members to view the employers offer and understand the difference between the Employer’s offer and UNISON’s demand.

The table below provides details of the employers offer including a comparison with the UNISON claim for 12.7%.

To help UNISON members understand the offer and how it compares with UNISON’s demand please find below an explanation of the table above.

Column A = Lists Barnet Council Grades. If you don’t know your grade contact your line manager.

Column B & C = These columns provide the detail of the bottom and top of the current grade.

Column D & E = These columns provide the detail as to how the current grade changes when the employers’ offer is applied.

Column F & G = These columns show in percentages what the employers’ offer means to each grade.

Column H & I = These columns represent the increase to the grade if the UNISON proposal was implemented. As you can see it is higher than the

employers’ offer.

Column J & K = These columns provide the actual financial loss for each grade when the employers’ offer is compared with the Trade Unions’ claim for 12.7%.

Column L & M = These columns provide the actual percentage pay cut for each grade when the employers’ offer is compared with the Trade Unions’ claim for 12.7%.

* This table uses LBB Council’s Term Time pay formula. Not all schools use this formula so you may have to check what formula your school uses to calculate your pay

Any questions please email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk


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




1 2 3 10