Easy Council! – Special offer all council services on offer for One Penny closing date 27th August!

“Tories adopt budget airline service model”(Guardian 28April 2009)

Today Barnet Council was Front Page news in the Guardian newspaper see link


For those staff still not registering the implications of the Future Shape consultation, perhaps this will mark the beginning of discussions in team meetings across Council.  

Further links to EasyCouncil story can be found here  

·         http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/aug/27/tory-borough-barnet-budget-airline 

·         http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/aug/27/barnet-council-conservative-party 

·         http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/aug/27/barnet-ryanair-pricing-model 

·         http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2009/aug/27/localgovernment-conservatives 

·         http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/conservative/6102167/Barnet-council-adopts-easyJet-and-Ryanair-business-model.html  

Phoney War

Since the 6th July 09 when Cabinet approved the move to Phase Three there has been a ‘Phoney war’ feel about Future Shape. There has been no details on the next Phase, no meetings in which we can begin to try to understand and consult over proposals for services.  

Then this!

Comparisons with Easy Jet and Ryan Air I believe are dangerous & unhelpful in that they play to residents & staff fears that services are going to sold off to the lowest bidder. Using a low cost airline as benchmark for public services does not feel right when you are talking about public services.  

What do you think?  

The last four weeks I have had the privilege of going back into social work teams in both adults & children’s services. I can report now that from the little I have seen staff are doing a brilliant job; working under incredible pressure & public scrutiny.   

I saw first hand the need for some of the Future Shape ideas such as avoiding duplication of tasks (form filling) using an IT system which all social workers and their fellow professionals can access. To address this issue we will need investment and pooling of budgets across other public sector bodies. There is nothing ‘Easy Jet’ about sorting this important issue for social services!  

I understand that this project has been dubbed ‘Easy Council’ catchy, good newspaper headlines but sending out the wrong message for the thousands of hard working staff trying to deliver efficient, quality services across the borough.  

In one of the links above a Barnet Councillor is quoted saying  

“With council tenants, and I’ll admit I am putting it crudely it has been a lot of ‘my arse needs wiping, and somebody from the council can come and do it for me.’ That attitude is dying out now.”

I am concerned that an elected councillor in Barnet has this view. The increasing pressure on spending on Social Care has led to ever more stringent criteria to access services. According to the Council’s Fair Access to Care Services (FACS) you need to meet substantial/critical criteria to get a service which will involve lengthy & detailed assessments.

What next?

Early next week we should be receiving details on the implementation plan for Future Shape. We will be discussing the plan with our members at our branch meeting on

Monday 12 October 12 – 2pm. Conference Room, NLBP

Make sure you come along  

£5.73p per hour the “invisible workforce” nobody speaks about.

(The name of the worker have been changed for this article )

Gloria is a cleaner and earns £5.73p per hour. £5.73p is the legal national minimum wage, however it has been long recognised that cost of living for London residents means that there should be a London weighting added. On his election as London Mayor, Boris Johnson has honoured & championed (“Johnson said pay below this rate meant people were living in poverty even after benefits and tax credits were taken into account.”) the London Living Wage which stands at £7.60p per hour for all contracted staff. If Gloria was earning £7.60p per hour it would have a significant impact on the quality of life for her and her family. 


Gloria rises each day at 5 a.m. in order to catch a night bus into Barnet to begin what will be a 14 hour day which will see her work in a number of public sector buildings.


Her first job is in a school before the school opens, children start drifting into school while she is still working. The only person who will speak to Gloria is the caretaker. He will speak to Gloria about any changes to her normal duties and take up any issues about the standard of work she has done. No one else will notice or speak to Gloria, she is part of the school, yet she is not. She is in a school but has not had any training. In the event of a child making a disclosure, Gloria has no idea what she should do. In the time before privatisation the cleaning staff were part of the schools staff team and Gloria would have taken part in the Safeguarding training.


After finishing her shift Gloria has a few hours to kill as her next job is as a catering assistant in another school. She lives too far from home to return and so has to find somewhere to go to have something to eat as it is 5 hours since she left home.


A quick change into her uniform and Gloria is at work in the school kitchen. The catering service was privatised five years ago she is on the minimum wage and working for the next four hours. The work is hard and physically demanding. She is on her feet for most of the time, the work never seems to end.  


Gloria is leaving the school and heading for a college where she works for a different cleaning contractor, but still on £5.73p per hour!


For the next three hours she is cleaning classrooms, toilets, hallways….despite the fact she has been working there for a couple of years nobody says hello, she is invisible. ….


It’s 7 pm and Gloria is off her home it will be almost 9 pm before she arrives home.

In eight hours time she will be leaving for work!


What are the branch doing?

Barnet UNISON is part of the North London Citizens steering group, which is working towards the launch of North London Citizens. Lobbying both the private and public sectors to ensure that staff are at least on the London Living Wage is likely to be one of the aims of the organisation.


In Barnet our cleaners were privatised several years ago and unfortunately TUPE Plus was not on the negotiation table. The former ex council staff have been replaced with new staff on the minimum wage.


Our branch recently formally raised the issue of the cleaners pay & conditions with our employers and expect an update at our next meeting with our employers on 14 September.


Our branch believes cleaners should at least be on the London Living Wage and we are going to help make that happen.


We agree with the Mayor statement in the Guardian on 22 May 2009


“During these testing times, it is vital that we invest in order to pay Londoners a fair and decent wage,” Johnson said. 

“It also brings wider social benefits, tackling poverty, making work pay, and improving the quality of life for families……City Hall is leading by example, and we will certainly be paying the new London living wage across the GLA group as appropriate … I urge all London businesses to invest for the future by paying it too.”


What do you think?


“Do you know better?….Gotta new idea?”

Now is YOUR chance

         Have you got a good idea which could save the Council money?

        Have you got a good idea which could help the Council work better with their partners?

        Have you got a good idea which will improve access to services for residents?

        Have you raised you idea at work and nothing has happened?

Here is your chance. 

Send your idea to


We will ensure your idea is sent direct to the Chief Executive. It will be your choice if you want to remain anonymous.

“Are the workers revolting?”

“Are the workers revolting?”

The latest occupation of the Danish owned Vestas factory in the Isle of Wight is but one of many examples of workers taking direct action to defend their livelihoods. At one stage it looked like the workers were being starved out of their occupation, but families & supporters have been trying to ensure food supplies are getting through.

 Even the Whiskey workers are revolting! 

Who pays for the financial collapse?

The answer it seems is Public Sector workers. It is hard to explain to members why they must pay after witnessed bankers being bailed out with OUR money. Because of their actions the public are being ‘groomed’ to accept their fate; unemployment, redundancies, rationing……rationing? Yes rationing, the Doomsday lobbyists are predicting a financial meltdown of epic proportions, worse than the Great Depression, worst in economic history ever??  

Perhaps not, ever wondered what happened to the great civilisations Egyptians, Aztecs, Inca’s? Could it be their economies got caught in some dodgy toxic debts? 

British spirit…..we’ll cope?

Mustn’t grumble…could be worse…….sounds like the start of a song 

Maybe it is the legacy of the Druids….in times of strife we need sacrificial lambs to help us in our time of need.  

Who shall we sacrifice? Why not Public Services? Government are not content with year on year efficiencies which has seen jobs cut, services cut, privatisation & terms & conditions eroded they want more and it is public sector workers & their families who must pay.  

So back to my original point, “are the workers revolting?”

There are approximately 6 million workers working in public services all going to have a vote next year and whoever gets in has got their services, jobs in their sights……. 

The message from politicians is that the best way out of this mess is to cut, cut, cut and cut again…haven’t we been here before? 

So we cut services, we cut jobs, but how does that help public services?

Public Sector workers are not known for taking direct action …but then again neither were those workers who have been taking direct action in the last 9 months. It would be a foolish politician that ignored the signs that the public are revolting and will continue to do so if they are given no hope and no alternative.

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