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.

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

Staff and vulnerable residents were told they would have to leave Apthorp by the 31 October 2021.

First, we were told it was closing because the building was unsafe, and the Council could not afford it.

Then we found out that they were carrying on with the refurbishment and that it might be re-opening.

Then we discovered that the Council does not own the property. It belongs to Catalyst Housing. We asked why the Council were spending money on a property they do not own.

No response.

There are 93 care workers at risk of the sack and if Apthorp is closed, however if it is re-opening, we want to be able to work with the employer to prevent loyal care workers from being sacked.

Barnet asked the following questions:

  1. What is reason for the building workers on this property?
  2. Are you re-opening Apthorp as a:
  3. Residential & day care setting
  4. Nursing, Residential, day care setting
  5. Extra care and day care setting
  6. A mixture of all the above
  7. Selling it off to the private sector
  8. Selling it off to a property developer for housing?
  9. Why is Barnet Council spending money on a property they don’t own?

No responses to the above.

Breaking News

Last week we found out that a Gerald Eve estate agent was on site at Apthorp Lodge carrying out an evaluation of the building on behalf of Catalyst Housing.

We have asked what is going on.

  • Why are Catalyst seeking a valuation?
  • Why are Barnet Council paying for refurbishment of a property which they don’t own?
  • Why have Barnet Council not sought costs from Catalyst Housing for allowing it to fall into disrepair and putting the safety of residents at risk.

It appears there is millions for contractors but nothing for care workers who risked their lives during the Covid pandemic.

You can view our care workers latest video message here https://youtu.be/mUcnJbFuFX8

You can send messages of solidarity here: contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

 

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

On Tuesday 24 August 2021 Barnet UNISON wrote to the Cllr Rajput Sachin Chair of the Adults & Safeguarding Committee

Extract below:

“ I am writing to you today on behalf of our members who provide care services at Apthorp care home.

 

 

On Friday 20 August 2021, 93 staff were informed that as a result of a Council decision to close Apthorp residential home on 31 October 2021 they are all at risk of redundancy.

 

 

This decision has understandably left our members devasted especially considering their hard work looking after vulnerable residents during the height of Covid when there were no vaccines available.

 

 

I must profess I am also concerned about the speed in which the home is to close. These are vulnerable residents and the consequences of moving can sometimes be fatal.

 

 

Our members want to know the real reason as to why the home is closing.

 

For your information these are the questions we submitted to Your Choice Barnet and we are seeking answers:

 

 

  1. Who made the decision to close Apthorp?

 

  1. When did the meeting on the future of Apthorp take place?

 

  1. What information about Apthorp was provided to the decision makers?

 

  1. Please provide copies of the information provided to the decision makers.

 

  1. Please provide a copy of the minutes of the meeting and the actions agreed.

 

I note that there is an Adults and Safeguarding Committee meeting on Tuesday 14 September 2021 at 7 pm.

 

 

Our members have asked that we seek permission from the Chair of this Committee in order we can make our case for this decision to be delayed.

 

I am formally requesting that UNISON is allowed to make representation to this committee.

 

 

Our members will be attending this meeting it would be helpful if they could see that this committee will do the right thing and provide these care workers with an opportunity to put their case against closure.

 

Stay safe.

 

Best wishes

 

John Burgess

 

Branch Secretary.

 

Barnet UNISON

As of Thursday 26 August 2021, we have not yet had a response to this request.

End.

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