Election Time: “Who has the back of Barnet UNISON members?”

As we approach Council elections, our members are asking if there will be a political change here at Barnet Council and if so, what it would mean for them.

It is now 20 years since Labour handed back power to the Tories in Barnet Council. Back then it was a very different time, and the Tories were not keen on outsourcing. They appeared to enjoy running the services themselves.

Things changed around 2008.

This is when easyCouncil was presented as the future for delivering Council services. This approach was promoted by a succession of consultants who were richly rewarded with lucrative contracts. It would be fair to say Barnet Council was “consultant dependent”, no decisions could be made without first paying a consultant 100’s of thousands of pounds of public money.

“The One Barnet Consultant’s bill hits £6.3 million” http://reasonablenewbarnet.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-one-barnet-consultants-bill-hits-63.html

Easycouncil became One Barnet, which enabled the mass outsourcing sausage machine to churn out report after report, all extolling the virtues of outsourcing and undermining the hard work of the in-house staff.

Fast forward 14 years and there appears to be growing anger towards the Government over the alleged breaches of Covid rules at its heart. There is even speculation that previously safe Tory Councils could be at risk.

If there was political change in Barnet would it be a Labour or Lib- Labour Coalition?

And if so what would that mean for our outsourced members all of whom are desperate to return back under direct management of Barnet Council?

What will a change in political leadership mean for our Barnet UNISON members working for NSL the Parking Services contractor?

What will a change in political leadership mean for our Barnet UNISON members working for Capita and the two contracts?

What will a change in political leadership mean for our Barnet UNISON members working for the Catering Contractor ISS? 

What will a change in political leadership mean for our Barnet UNISON members working for Barnet Education Learning Skills (BELS)?

What will a change in political leadership mean for our Barnet UNISON members working for Housing workers working for Barnet Homes? 

What will a change in political leadership mean for our Barnet UNISON members working for 600 care workers working for Your Choice Barnet?

What will a change in political leadership mean for our Barnet UNISON members working for the cleaning contractor Norse? 

What will a change in political leadership mean for our Barnet UNISON members working for the security contractor Blue Nine? 

All the above services used to be provided by Barnet Council and many of the outsourced services are frontline services run by key workers clapped as heroes during the pandemic.

UNISON policy is for all these services to be run in-house and that they will publicly support Barnet UNISON to try to campaign to bring these services back under direct control of the Council.

The other big concern for Council workers and the low paid is PAY. 

The National Pay Campaign was a failure and whilst UNISON begins the work to address the massive deficit between the union and its membership nationally what does this mean now?

Our low paid members are facing serious financial hardship and do not have the luxury of waiting for another national pay campaign.

What is low pay in our depot based Street Scene Services ? 

A Street Cleansing operative earns between £11.31 to £12.03 and hour annual salary £22,575  

A Bin worker loader or a Gardener earns between £11.82 to £12.47 and hour annual salary £ 23,400 

A Passenger Transport Driver, Gardener Driver, Town Keeper earns between £12.24 to £12.91 and hour annual salary £24,245

A coach escort, skilled gardener driver, tractor driver earns between £12.69 to £13.39 and hour annual salary £25,128

A LGV driver operative, LGV Tractor drive earns between £13.15 to £14.12 and hour annual salary £26,508

A Bin worker driver earns between £14.12 to £15.72 and hour annual salary £29,502 

 

Barnet UNISON had its first Emergency Cost of Living Crisis meeting on 30 March 2022. The meeting agreed to progress the claim and bring the full proposal to a vote of the second Cost of Living Crisis meeting on Tuesday 26 April at 6 pm.  

What will a change in political leadership mean for our low paid Barnet UNISON members working for Barnet Council? 

The question on the lips of these workers is which political party will publicly join UNISON in advocating the return of outsourced services back into Barnet Council and to meet to discuss how to end pay poverty for low paid workers?

End.

 

Breaking News: Barnet Homes ASSIST Strike – VICTORY!

Credit: Anne-Marie Sanderson

Barnet Homes Assist plays the role of a fourth emergency service. They respond to the most vulnerable in our Barnet community, visiting clients in their homes or alerting the other emergency services after being alerted by an alarm call from a client.

The Barnet Group brought forward proposals just before Christmas to outsource or close this vital lifeline which serves 5,000 Barnet residents by the 1st of April 2022, all for the want of a budget shortfall of £160k.

Members requested a ballot for industrial action.

The ballot closed on the 16th of March.

77% of Assist UNISON members returned the ballot on time with 100% voting to take industrial action to ‘Save Assist’ and oppose the outsourcing or closure of this vital service.

The Barnet Group has listened and has made a commitment to look at other ways in which the service can become financially viable in the long term such as investment in new technology to allow Assist to bid for more contracts. This has gone some way to allay the fears of the dedicated staff who work at Assist and the vulnerable clients they serve. Talks are ongoing with the staff and Barnet UNISON about the future for the Assist service. But what is clear that Barnet UNISON members in the Barnet Group or in Barnet Council will stand together to fight against any proposal to outsource Public Services.” Patrick Hunter, Barnet Homes Convenor.

“UNISON members at ASSIST were and are prepared to fight against outsourcing of this vital frontline service that serves the most vulnerable residents in our community – we clapped for them during the pandemic – and I applaud them now, heroes, every last one of them.’’ Helen Davies, Branch Chair Barnet UNISON.

“Massive respect to our Barnet UNISON emergency response key worker members who work for the ASSIST service. They voted (100%) to take strike action with a 77% turnout in response to their employer seeking to outsource them. Today’s response from the employer that they are no longer pursuing outsourcing is welcome news. We are shortly to have fresh talks over the future for the service.” John Burgess Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON.

End.

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

Background:

UNISON Official Ballot is on for “ASSIST” Workers to take Strike Action

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2022/03/02/unison-official-ballot-is-on-for-assist-workers-to-take-strike-action/

Barnet UNISON, Response to Barnet Homes ASSIST Proposals, 17/01/22

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Barnet-UNISON-Response-to-Barnet-Homes-ASSIST-Proposal.pdf

 

 

 

 

UNISON Official Ballot is on for “ASSIST” Workers to take Strike Action

 

UNISON is balloting the ASSIST workers this week the result of the ballot will be announced 16 March.

  • ASSIST provides this vital support to some 5,000 residents in Barnet and in Brent.
  • For the lack of £160,000 a year the service is on notice that it is to be outsourced. UNISON has agreed to back these workers and will ballot all of them for official strike action.
  • The Assist service, amongst other things, provides and maintains equipment to 5,000 mainly elderly residents of Barnet.

The most common of these items is the “lifeline” equipment which a resident would use if they fell. The resident would pull a cord or press a button on a pendant alarm which activates in the call centre and a decision is taken about whether someone from ASSIST needs to contact emergency services, a relative or go out themselves to emergencies. This support often makes the difference between someone being able to continue living at home or having to go into residential care.

During the Covid Pandemic the ASSIST service was rightly described as the “4th Emergency Service” by senior managers in The Barnet Group.

“Last Autumn we had the debacle of 74 care workers being given redundancy due to the closure of Apthorp Care Centre and now this! This service is so cheap to run and so valuable to thousands of residents of Barnet – it beggars belief that once again the lives of key workers are being thrown up in the air as soon as the crisis is over. We want Barnet Council and The Barnet Group which are essentially one and the same thing, to do the right thing and find a way forward which benefits residents and keeps a valued service in Barnet.” (Helen Davies, Branch Chair Barnet UNISON.)

“Keyworkers who were rightly praised by their managers are now rewarded for their hard work with outsourcing. At a time when Barnet Council are bringing services back in-house from Capita how can this valued service not been treated the same. If Human Resources, Finance, Recruitment, are needed back in-house why isn’t the ASSIST service being given the same treatment? I call upon Barnet Council to take back this service in-house and provide peace of mind for the 5,000 residents and the inspirational ASSIST workers who care so much about the service they provide.” (John Burgess Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON).

“The Assist workers have the full backing of Greater London UNISON for your dispute. You provide a vital service which enables vulnerable people to stay in their homes safe in the knowledge someone will respond quickly in an emergency. It’s a no brainer that your service benefits and supports the work of social care and the NHS. We want you to win and will support you all the way.” (Tracey Dalling Regional Secretary Greater London UNISON.)

End.

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

Background:

  1. For more details on the ASSIST service and Barnet UNISON response click on our link below Barnet UNISON Response to Barnet Homes ASSIST Proposal

ASSIST – the 4th emergency service – to be privatised

 

ASSIST ‘The 4th Emergency Service’

The Barnet Group have put out to tender part or all the services that our colleagues at ASSIST provide.

During the pandemic, Barnet Group management were calling ASSIST the 4th Emergency Service because of the vital services they provide to the most vulnerable in our community.

The service has been starved of investment, deliberately, by both the Barnet Group and the London Borough of Barnet, making it impossible for the service to ‘bid’ for contracts that would ensure the continuation of the service and enable it to expand.

UNISON have been informed that the yearly deficit to keep ASSIST open is £300k – but £140k yearly is the amount of unbilled service that ASSIST provides to the Barnet Group – and would have to be paid to any new provider, should any decide to bid on the tender.

Now LBB and TBG have decided that a new LBB directly funded role is merited in The Barnet Group a new ‘Head of Business Development & Transformation’ in Your Choice Barnet with a salary ‘outside’ of our Job Evaluation process but will be well in excess of £60k per year.

When will The Barnet Group and The London Borough of Barnet learn that it is frontline services to the public that should have priority when it comes to funding, not overpaid consultants?

What is to ‘Develop’ or ‘Transform’ if our services are privatised?

The message to the Barnet Group and the London Borough of Barnet is:

 The only TUPE out of the Barnet Group that is acceptable to ASSIST UNISON members is a TUPE back in to LBB

where the service came from in the first place.

Please send messages of support to ASSIST

via contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Strike ballot on Pay is coming……….

Read message from UNISON below

Dear John,

 

Over the last few weeks you should have been contacted by UNISON to ask if you wanted to accept or reject the local government employers’ offer of a 1.75% pay rise, for council and school workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

 

Yesterday we received the results and 79% of those who voted, voted to reject the offer.

 

Today, the committee you elect to make key decisions on members’ behalf, decided that we should move to ballot members to ask if you are willing to take industrial action. You can read more about the decision on our campaign site:

 

The strength of feeling amongst the members that voted is resounding – 79%! This is not surprising considering what an inadequate, unfair offer it is. Over the last 18 months you have gone above and beyond to keep vital services going, often risking your own safety to do so. Yet, you were offered a real terms pay cut (considering inflation has been above 3% for some time now), and the value of local government pay has fallen by 25% since 2010.

I do not want us to underestimate the task we have on our hands – we need absolutely every member to vote in the upcoming ballot.

 

We hope you will receive your ballot papers in November or early December.

 

But I wanted to get in touch to let you know what is happening. I will be in touch soon to let you know what you need to do.

 

In the meantime, make sure you tell your colleagues. And if they’re not a member of UNISON, that means they won’t be able to vote, so make sure you tell them to join and have their say!

 

Non-members can join here

https://bit.ly/3D8X0sh

 

Thank you for your dedication over the last 18 months.

 

Your union is proud of you and we’re fighting to get you what we know you deserve.

 

Best wishes,

 

Jon Richards

 

Assistant general secretary for bargaining and negotiation

UNISON

 

A round up of the Apthorp dismissal of 93 care workers

We have been contacted by supporters for information into why 93 care workers are facing the sack on 31 October 2021.

Below are links to posts we have produced since we first heard the shocking news.

This a collection of all online articles about Save Apthorp campaign

1.Update: 93 Covid heroes face the sack

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2021/08/23/80-covid-heroes-face-the-sack/

2. Barnet UNISON request the right to speak on behalf of 93 Covid Heroes

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2021/08/26/barnet-unison-request-the-right-to-speak-on-behalf-of-93-covid-heroes/

3. What happened to the 11 Barnet Council Care Homes and day centres in 1999?

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2021/08/26/what-happened-to-the-11-barnet-council-care-homes-and-day-centres-in-1999/

4. What is going on, just who owns Apthorp care home?

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2021/09/03/what-is-going-on-just-who-owns-apthorp-care-home/

5. Update on Apthorp consultation: Save Apthorp

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2021/09/03/update-on-apthorp-consultation-save-apthorp/

6. Join our We Are Barnet Save Apthorp lobby in person and online

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2021/09/08/join-our-we-are-barnet-save-apthorp-lobby-in-person-and-online/

7. A Tale of Two Priorities

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2021/09/09/a-tale-of-two-priorities/

8. Is Apthorp care setting closing or not?

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2021/09/09/is-apthorp-care-setting-closing-or-not/

9.Going, going gone, sold to…….what is going on at Apthorp?

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2021/09/27/going-going-gone-sold-to-what-is-going-on-at-apthorp/

End.

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