Bad News for Housing Workers in Barnet Council

On Tuesday 16 July Barnet Council Cabinet Committee met and agreed to carry on with the outsourced Barnet Homes model of employment.

According to one councillor “If something isn’t broken don’t fix it, is my mantra,”

(You can view the discussion and quote two hours, two minutes and 10 seconds on the Council recording of the meeting access via this link )

Barnet UNISON had submitted a report to the Cabinet Committee which members can read by clicking on the link below.

I have been attending Council Committee meetings as a UNISON rep for almost 28 years and in all that time one thing that stands out when all councillors are speaking about council services is that they fail to acknowledge that without the workforce there would be no services for residents.

For instance, where they are discussing a decision which has a fundamental impact on the workforce, they refuse to allow UNISON to speak and answer questions from councillors about our own report and recommendations.

Barnet UNISON has hundreds of outsourced members who are all providing services on behalf of Barnet Council, yet they are not entitled to Barnet Council Terms and Condition or access to the Local Government Pension Scheme. Over the past 15 years outsourcing services has been the direction of travel for many of our members.

What councillors and senior officers who draft the reports promoting the outsourcing don’t want to discuss is the detrimental impact of outsourcing on the workforce. They are keen to offer words of comfort, but as our members know words of comfort do not pay the rent, the energy bills, the food shop. There is no discount for outsourced workers when the council tax bill arrives, or travel cost go up again.

We are in the worst cost of living crisis in 77 years and many of our members in the outsourced workforce need to two jobs to survive and even that is not enough, and they are forced to rely on food banks.

What we have in Barnet is a Two-Tier workforce and it is our duty as a trade union to try and negotiate an end to outsourcing.

For Housing workers, it is deeply disappointing that members of the committee do not see the connection between how the staff are treated in terms of pay and terms and conditions and service delivery.

There is only one other ALMO in London whilst every other Housing worker is on Council Terms and Conditions with access to the Pension scheme.

Barnet UNISON believes that Housing workers deserve better which is why we are supporting UNISON National Policy “Bringing Services Home” campaign.

Look out for our communications which start in the Autumn. A campaign must involve member not just the reps.

If you are a Housing worker and have a question, please email

John Burgess Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.



Mental Health Social Workers visit ADASS headquarters

On Wednesday 26 June 2024 a group of Barnet UNISON mental health social workers paid a visit to the London Headquarters of Association of Directors of Social Services (ADASS).

The purpose of the visit was to deliver their letter of concern to ADASS.

On this occasion our letter was accepted.

You can view our letter by clicking the link below.





Our strikers paid a visit to CQC offices in London


On Wednesday 12 June 11.30 am Barnet UNISON mental health social worker strikers went to CQC London office to hand in a letter to CQC outlining the serious issues facing mental health services in Barnet.

Our strikers made their way to the plush offices in the new developments surrounding Stratford station.

At reception we asked to meet someone from CQC in order that we could hand over our letter.

What happened next was bizarre. CQC refused to accept our letter. A member of security came and spoke to us and explained they would not accept our letter.

We pointed out that (see in the screenshot of CQC website) that it states very clearly that:

“You can leave information or documentation at the main reception.”

It was obvious CQC were not prepared to receive our letter of concern.

Later, we sent the letter by registered post, and we now have confirmation that someone signed to confirm they now have possession of our letter.

You can read our letter by clicking on the link below.

As of Wednesday 26 June 2024, no one from CQC has contacted the branch.




Barnet UNISON: “BANNERS HELD HIGH” lobby : Tuesday 9 July 6 pm.

On behalf of our mental health social worker strikers, in solidarity with the 40th Anniversary of the Miners’ Strike, Barnet UNISON is inviting supporters to our:

“BANNERS HELD HIGH” lobby of Barnet Council Full Council

Tuesday 9 July 6pm outside Hendon Town Hall, NW4 4BG

The nearest tube station is Hendon station on the northern line. Turn right out of the station for a 10-minute walk up the hill then turn right at the top and the Town Hall is a one-minute walk on the left.

In 2015, our branch had the honour to march through Thatcher’s back yard with the late Davey Hopper and the Durham Miners banner, and the iconic LGSM banner.

This lobby will mark the end of nine weeks of continuous strike action. By the end of this strike action our strikers will have taken 81 days of strike action which started in September 2023.

Our strikers have stood up to the worst gaslighting and intimidation that our branch has seen ever.

Over the past four weeks Labour controlled Barnet Council has paid for a recruitment agency to provide social workers to carry out the work our strikers would be doing if they were not on strike.

It is UNISON’s view that this is strikebreaking. Many UNISON members at UNISON conference agreed, along with our General Secretary Christina McAnea listen below.

The actions of Barnet Council to employ Tory tactics and anti-union laws to strike break is an attack on the trade union movement as it provides cover for other employers to use the same tactics to break other strikes.

This is why there needs to mobilisation across the trade union movement publicly condemning strike breaking not just for our strike but all strikes.

You can provide support by calling out the Leader of Labour controlled Barnet Council by joining hundreds of trade union members and supporters in signing and sharing this statement.

As trade unionists Barnet UNISON believes we should applaud our striker’s commitment which is why our branch is asking trade union members across the country to make plans to attend this lobby and most importantly to bring banners/placards to Hendon Town Hall.

Please feel free to circulate this call to action to any who would like to support our lobby.

If you organise social workers, please feel free to share.

Finally, please let our strikers know if you are able to attend by sending an email to

In Solidarity




Thousands of UNISON members to join Barnet UNISON picket line!

On Friday 21 June around 10 am UNISON Conference will join Barnet UNISON mental health social workers picket line.

This week is the UNISON National Delegates Conference where thousands of delegates from UNISON branches meet to debate and discuss.

UNISON Conference this year is based in Brighton but on Friday morning UNISON are wanting to show solidarity with our strikers by beaming a live link from outside Labour controlled Barnet Councils main office in Colindale.

On Friday 21 June our strikers will have taken 66 days of strike action over a ten-month period. They are currently in week six of a nine-week strike.

During the conference this week UNISON members have been queuing up to condemn the Labour controlled Barnet Council for employing agency workers for what UNISON believes is strike breaking.

We are asking our supporters to do the following.

1. Join us at our Lobby of Labour controlled Barnet Council Committee meeting on Tuesday 9 July 6pm outside Hendon Town Hall NW4 4BG

2. Sign and share our solidarity statement here

3. Send a message to our strikers to

4. Donate to our industrial action fund by emailing our branch for details

5. Write or email: Cllr Barry Rawlings, Leader of the Council at Email: or  Write to: London Borough of Barnet, 2 Bristol Avenue, London NW9 4EW.

6. Request a striker to speak at one of your UNISON meetings.






Hundreds continue to sign solidarity statement to Leader of Barnet Council

The statement below is online and open for all to sign by clicking on the link below



Dear Cllr Rawlings

We are writing to you as Leader of Barnet Council to urge you to terminate the use of the recruitment agency Imperium Solutions and to sit down with UNISON and end this dispute.

Barnet UNISON mental health social workers have been on strike for 54 days over a ten-month period. They are currently on a nine-week strike ending on Friday 12 July.

On Friday 17 May 2024, in an email to all staff, a senior council officer acting on behalf of Labour controlled Barnet Council announced that they were going to employ social workers to carry out work which would normally be done by our strikers.

UNISON swiftly wrote to Barnet Council warning it UNISON believed that:

“should LBB procure strike cover as described in this letter, it would be procuring the services of an employment business, Regulation 7 of the Regulations would be breached and a criminal offence would be committed under the Employment Agencies Act 1973. As explained above, this would likely also mean a number of ancillary criminal offences are committed by LBB.”

UNISON also wrote to Imperium Solutions ( asking them to pull out of their contract with Barnet Council.

However, as of 5 June 2024, Imperium Solutions are still providing social workers to break our lawful strike action.

We are now in a General Election and The Labour Party has consulted trade unions over their policy called: Delivering A New Deal for Working People.

This is an extract:

The rules around agency workers in breaking strikes were condemned by industry and put the safety of the public and workers at risk. It places unnecessary red tape on trade union activity that work against their core role of negotiation and dispute resolution. Over the past 14 years, the Conservatives have consistently attacked rights at work, including through the Trade Union Act 2016, the Minimum Service Levels (Strikes) Bill and the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2022 – all of which Labour will repeal to give trade unions the freedom to organise, represent and negotiate on behalf of their workers.

The actions of your senior officers are at odds with the above policy.

There is no place across the trade union movement for use of agency workers to break strikes. As the Leader of Labour controlled Barnet Council, we are asking you to urgently stand down the recruitment agency and enter into talks with UNISON.



To sign this statement click on the link below.


Barnet UNISON Branch Secretary writes to Imperium Solutions to stop strikebreaking. 

Barnet UNISON Branch Secretary writes to recruitment company Imperium Solutions to stop strikebreaking.

“Dear Imperium Solutions

I am aware that you have been contracted by the London Borough of Barnet. UNISON members are currently engaged in a trade dispute with the London Borough of Barnet. Staff at London Borough of Barnet are currently taking industrial action, in the form of strike action from 13 May to 12 July 2024.

Our dispute concerns the mass exodus of staff. It is important that you fully understand the local situation. Including planned departures, approximately 30 mental health social workers will have left the service over the course of 22 months.

I am asking you to stop providing a resource for Barnet Council. The resource you are providing is work normally provided by workers who are taking industrial action to improve their conditions at work in a bid to provide stability to service users and their families. This is a dispute about public safety. Your activity is undermining the staff members who normally provide this service. It also means that you are prolonging the pain for our communities.

It is widely acknowledged by industry as a whole that providing agency workers to undermine strike action puts the safety of the public and workers at risk. I and my members are wondering why you would want to be a part of that and have your name associated with that kind of activity.

This strike has been ongoing for ten months and is already one of the longest running strikes in UNISON’s 30-year history. This dispute is regularly reported on by Community Care (12 articles in 10 months), a publication widely read by all social workers. Whilst you may be of the view that you have nothing to do with this dispute your actions will be seen as politically motivated. Because of the national profile of this dispute your organisation risks being forever associated as an agency which specifically engaged workers to undermine a lawful strike of our members.

You may be aware that another contractor was asked to carry out the work you have been asked to do on behalf of Barnet Council. Following communication with UNISON, that organization withdrew from the contract.

On behalf of our members, I am urging you to withdraw from this contract with Barnet Council.

Best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary.

Barnet UNISON “






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