Update: 93 Covid heroes face the sack

Monday 23 August 2021

Care staff working at Apthorp residential and day care service were told last Friday 20 August 2021 that Barnet Council had made the decision to close Apthorp.

There are approximately 93 care staff working at this location.

Apthorp provides services for vulnerable older people.

Apthorp was originally owned by Barnet Council until it was sold off with 10 other Council residential homes and day services to Catalyst Housing who contracted Fremantle Trust to take over the Council care workforce.

The current Apthorp buildings were part of a deal which meant Catalyst Housing were given all 11 real estate locations to develop for themselves and in return they would provide modern state of the art residential and day care services on four of the sites.

Only three were built.

What were the staff been told?

In a letter from their employer it states:

“the Council and Your Choice Barnet have taken the decision to vacate Apthorp Care Home by 31 October 2021. You will be aware that we have been carrying out some fire safety works in the building. Whilst all emergency works have been carried out, further surveys have taken place which highlight that significant levels of repairs are needed. The scope of works required in Apthorp Care Centre are extensive and would be extremely disruptive to residents of the home.”

At the meeting some staff responded to this devastating news by claiming that moving vulnerable residents from Apthorp to another home at this time will result in blood on someone’s hands because some of the residents won’t react well to the move.

There is documented evidence of the serious and sometimes fatal risks when moving vulnerable and elderly residents out of their homes. What is worrying about this plan is that Barnet Council are attempting to fast track the move of residents in less than two months which does not provide ample time to prepare and support vulnerable residents.

“Two decades to run down a service, wasted millions of public monies and now 93 Covid heroes are to be sacked.  

The world is upside down, seriously it is less than 12 months since our members were trying to care for vulnerable residents struggling to deal with Covid. There was no vaccine back then and the lack of PPE was an issue for members who were risking their own lives and those of their own family every day they went into work.

I won’t forget the fear in the voices of care workers as Covid was letting rip across Care homes. I can never begin to understand the terror our members were going through every day and all for the magnificent sum of £8.72 per hour! So here we are now August 2021 and our members have been told their workplace is closing, through no fault of their own.

Barnet UNISON will be supporting every single one of our members at this time we will also be seeking to find out who made this decision and why, this is not over. Keep watching this space…….”

(John Burgess Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON).

“The workers at the care home and day centre will have their lives thrown up in the air some few months after banners at the care home proclaimed them as heroes for how they dealt with the pandemic. There has been absolutely NO engagement with staff, residents, their families or the trade unions at any point to consider how Apthorp could be made viable. The cornerstone of activism for people with disabilities – nothing about us without us – has been utterly and completely ignored.

The elderly and the workforce are ignored and presumably they are just furniture to be moved around as The Great and The Good see fit. They are not worthy of any consideration. They have received no apology for this shocking turn of affairs.”

(Helen Davies Branch Chair Barnet UNISON.)

“We know the Care workers are ‘fit for purpose’ – they worked through the most unprecedented times in living history giving care to the most vulnerable in our community – in many cases end of life care to the clients they obviously love while putting themselves and their loved ones in danger to deliver care for their patients.

Their reward? The Barnet Group have announced their plan to make 93 Covid Heroes redundant. To sack the very workers that a few months ago were described as ‘Heroes’ because the company they work for obviously didn’t complete any meaningful due diligence when transferring staff and buildings from Fremantle, begs the question as to who should be facing redundancy.” (Patrick Hunter Barnet UNISON Convenor Barnet Homes.)

“The planned closure of the Apthorpe care home is the latest Adult Care policy decision that will have a major impact on service users, job losses for care workers and another policy decision that will ultimately cost council taxpayers dearly.

It marks 22 years of knee-jerk decison-making by Barnet Council which havve been devoid of economic and social impact analysis and cost benefit analysis since Barnet’s care homes were privatised to a Catalyst/Fremantle ‘partnership’.

Some partnership when eleven homes left the Council and only three return twenty years later. So what has happened to the land of the other eight homes?”

(Dexter Whitfield, Director, European Services Strategy Unit)

End.

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

Update on the Barnet UNISON Term Time Pay Campaign

Dear members,

Firstly, I hope you, your family and friends are keeping well and have been coping through this protracted period of anxiety and isolation caused by Covid19.

Owing to the virus, Barnet UNISON’s work regarding the term-time pay dispute was temporarily curtailed. This impacted my job as campaign organiser.

I am pleased to tell you that I am now able to resume my union role.

Barnet UNISON remains committed to trying to gain the best possible outcome for all members who have been discriminated against as a result of the incorrect formula being used to calculate your pay.

Many of you have already completed and submitted a hard copy of the CASE form that we have passed on to the union’s solicitors who are dealing with this collective grievance.

There are, however, lots of members who did not respond to our previous communications or complete a form.

This may be because I was unable to secure a meeting in your school prior to lockdown owing to a lack of response from school management. Our branch Secretary, John Burgess, sent letters to all Head Teachers and members but we did not receive responses from everyone. In addition, growing concerns around the virus began to interrupt my work towards the end of February.

Action Plan:

  • The branch will commence a series of regular monthly updates on the campaign so please check your emails.
  • I will be making as much contact with members as I can to advise and guide you, and help you submit a CASE form to our solicitors.
  • Your particular school may have already rectified the formula and back-dated pay for a specific period of time. If this applies to you please let me know.
  • Accepting any changes to your pay does not in itself prohibit you from submitting a claim. However, we advise you against signing anything until you have sought advice from UNISON.

There is no guarantee that the branch will win exactly what we aim for on your behalf but there is strength in numbers. The more members who decide to make a claim as part of the collective grievance, the greater our chances of success.

I am unlikely to be able to visit any schools for the foreseeable future because of the rules regarding gatherings and social distancing. Now is, therefore, the time for you to organise yourselves. Please consider acting as a workplace convenor or co-convenor with one of your colleagues.

We have created a streamlined CASE form for completion online. You simply need to populate it and return as an attachment by email. I will be sharing detailed guidance on this soon. Please note, we are now unable to process paper copies of the form as we are not operating from the branch office.

If you require any further advice prior to the next communication from the branch, you can email me.

Take care & stay safe.

Kind Regards

Nadia Joseph

Term Time Pay Organiser

Barnet UNISON

contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

 

Bin worker Update 4: Victory for our members

“I am pleased to report that Barnet Council have dropped the proposed change to our members’ contracts.

The Council responded that they had listened to the views from Barnet UNISON and the views of our members in a face to face meeting which took place in the depot several weeks ago.

This is a massive result for our Bin workers.

It is the second time that we have balloted in a 12 month period and it is the second time they have delivered a solid vote for strike action.

The message is very clear for all workers facing attacks from employers – join a union and get involved in the union.

The union provides the opportunity to fight back.

I am really proud that our Barnet UNISON members can hold their heads up high along with Tower Hamlets UNISON members, SOAS UNISON members, and UNISON members who work for Wigan-Council commissioned drug and alcohol rehabilitation service ‘We Are With You’ who are currently taking 10 days strike action.

All of these UNISON members have stood together and voted to fight back.”

John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.

 End.

Breaking News: Bin workers Trade Dispute meeting with Barnet Council update 1

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2020/09/18/breaking-news-bin-workers-trade-dispute-meeting-with-barnet-council/

Barnet Bin workers dispute update 2

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2020/09/19/barnet-bin-workers-dispute-update/

Barnet Bin workers Update 3

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2020/09/21/barnet-bin-workers-update-3/

Barnet Bin workers Update 3

Barnet Council depot, Bittacy Hill, Mill Hill.Unison members on strike.02/11/15

Today Barnet UNISON and GMB met with senior management to discuss the proposed changes to Bin workers’ contracts.

At this meeting senior management responded to say that after meeting with the workforce and listening to their views about the proposal they needed to go back to the Corporate Management Team.

Management said they would be responding back to the trade unions with a date for a new meeting by close of play today or tomorrow.

I registered my disappointment that management had not come to this meeting with a response as our members were waiting to hear the outcome of this meeting today. I made it clear that I did not want the added stress and pressure hanging over the workforce any longer.

Look out tomorrow for further details from Barnet UNISON.

John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.

End.

Notes to Editors

Contact details: John Burgess Barnet UNISON on or 020 8359 2088 or email: john.burgess@barnetunison.org.uk

Background links:

Breaking News: Bin workers Trade Dispute meeting with Barnet Council update 1

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2020/09/18/breaking-news-bin-workers-trade-dispute-meeting-with-barnet-council/

Barnet Bin workers dispute update 2

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2020/09/19/barnet-bin-workers-dispute-update/

 

Barnet Bin workers dispute update 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We conducted an internal strike ballot on the management proposal to enforce a change to the contracts of Bin workers.

We had a 99% turnout and a 98% vote to reject the proposal.

This was shared with management.

Management have been told that our members feel they are being bullied by this proposal. 

They know first hand about the growing anger amongst the workforce in response to this proposal, yet they continue to pursue it.

This vote is a warning to Barnet Council that the mood within the workforce is for strike action if management seek to force the contract change through sack and re-engage.

For a period between 2009 and 2016 Barnet UNISON had strikes every year.

We know how to organise strikes and we are ready to mobilise if on Monday 20 September management persist with this aggressive act.

Messages of support for Barnet Bin Workers can be sent to contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Look out for our next update on Monday

Solidarity

 

Barnet UNISON.

Housing Services Restructure

HOUSING MEMBERS

 

As you are well aware the situation in regard to Corona Virus is changing on daily basis, I have done my best to consult with UNISON members on the latest set of proposals from management.

 

In general, the opinion is, that given the crisis we are all facing, this would not be an expedient time to launch a dispute – UNISON members are more concerned with service  delivery to our vulnerable tenants.

 

However,

 

There is still an ongoing concern that there are issues with the restructure that have not been addressed and will need to be scrutinised by UNISON members before implementation.

 

So although UNISON are not declaring a dispute at the present time, due to the unprecedented circumstances we all find ourselves in, we are reserving the right to revisit the issues which are still outstanding and should UNISON members decide, declare a dispute before the full implementation of the proposals or when circumstances have returned to ‘normal’  [whenever that is]

 

 

 

Enough is enough. PPE for all care workers now.

Please sign this petition

http://chng.it/GqNGny9X

We demand Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is made immediately available for all care workers.

It is time for a change in the Public Health guidance on wearing PPE.

All care workers need to be provided with PPE (mask and gloves etc.) and training in how to use it.

Until now you have to be working with someone known to have the virus to have PPE.

That may have been right back then but now it’s got to change.

Care workers need PPE.

PPE needs to be provided on the assumption any of us could have Covid-19.

We can’t afford our care workers being exposed to the virus or passing it on to service users.

It takes just one case in a care home and suddenly care workers will be sent home to self-isolate.

But who looks after the residents if you send the care workers to self-isolate?

We don’t have enough care workers to work to this strategy which is why ALL care workers must be provided with PPE.

We can see there isn’t enough PPE for the NHS but this should not be a reason for not making this demand.

If care homes start falling where do you think this will end?

More admissions to hospitals!

If this Government can’t ensure there is enough provision of PPE then they should step aside and let others take over.

It’s already happening and we can’t stay silent on this any longer.

It’s a simple demand – PPE must be provided for all care workers.

No excuses, no delay.

End.

 

Housing Restructure Update

Dear member,

I hope you and all your loved ones are well.

See attached or below.

This is the latest update from management in regard to the ongoing Consultation in Leasehold, Neighbourhood, Rental Income and Customer Contact Centre.

I have not been able to consult with you on these proposals or call a meeting with you to discuss whether these proposals change the position agreed upon the last time we met on the 11 March 2020.

The position then was for a dispute to be lodged at JNCC and thereafter enable an indicative ballot of members effected by as to what industrial action you are prepared to take.

Obviously the Corona Virus has markedly changed priorities.

The next scheduled JNCC is on the 3 April 2020 – so given that management have moved their position, put some further risk mitigating measures in place and moved the interview dates for ‘at risk’ staff to the 1st of June

Should UNISON lodge the dispute?

Or wait and continue further dialogue?

Please reply to this email and indicate either 1 or 2.

  1. LODGE DISPUTE NOW
  2. DO NOT LODGE AT THIS TIME

Let me know your thoughts –

In solidarity

Stay safe

Patrick Hunter

UNISON Convenor for The Barnet Group

 

 

 

 

 

Another Capita Pension Service Fail!

The reports on data quality issues with the Capita Pension Administration Service based in Darlington have been many.

I noticed that there is another Data Quality Report submitted for the Pension Fund Committee, on Thursday 30 May 2019

(See here https://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s52720/Data%20Quality%20Report.pdf )

It reminded me of the Open Portal web site all members of the Council Pension Scheme had access to before Capita took over.

It was taken down in 2014 with a promise that it would be back up soon.

It’s 24 May 2019 and it is not available and worrying Capita seem to think it was not in the contract to provide such a portal.

Whenever I need to check out the contract there is only one person to contact and that is Barnet Blogger Mr Reasonable I contacted him because I was convinced it must be in the contract and literally five minutes later he sent over the relevant section in the Capita contract.

The specific requirement can be found in the HR Method Statement (which is attached as a PDf document)

Final_HR_Method_Statement_Mar2013_Capita_redacted (1)

Scroll down to Page 30, paragraph (emphasis mine)

 2.8 PENSIONS ADMINISTRATION / OUTPUT SPECIFICATION REF: HR008

“Members will also have access their pension information via the web portal. This on-line service gives the members the facility to perform ‘what-if’ calculations, view and update their personal information including nominees. Benefit statements and other scheme documentation will be available for current and deferred members. Pensioners will have access and be able to view all their payslips and P60s.”

I can’t even begin to explain how useful this would be for members of the Pension Scheme, ironically if this had been implemented it would have saved resources for Capita.

Have I notified the Council?

Yes, I have raised this immediately with the Council.

I have two questions.

  1. When will Barnet Council hold Capita to account and insist the above web portal is put in place immediately?
  2. Why is the Council continuing to accept failure from Capita in particular why is not the Pension Service being brought back in-house.

At this moment of publication Capita are still providing our Pension Service and their Share Price is £1.05 p a share. See below 

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