14 days to go – Witness your future!

Less than 14 days before we read the Future Shape Cabinet report!  

Everyone keeps asking me if I know what is going to be in the report.

“I don’t know, as I have reported before, I don’t know what is in store for Public Services in Barnet.”

It won’t be long before the report will be on the Councils internet, hopefully the week commencing 29 June.

http://committeepapers.barnet.gov.uk/democracy/meetings/meetingdetail.asp?meetingid=5309

 

“Are you going to vote for cuts/redundancies/dismantling of your Pension Scheme?”

It was a busy week at both Local Government and National Delegate Conference. It is always good to see how other UNISON branches are coping with the challenges facing public services.  

Barnet is still one of a few Councils looking at something as big as Future Shape. But the clear message from branches and national UNISON officers was that we are entering into unchartered waters. Future budget forecasts for ALL Public Services are not looking good.

Whilst it is good the Council needs to demonstrate to our residents that they are getting value for money. I don’t think it acceptable we just shake our heads an accept it. Politicians from all parties have to re-think what they are going to offer us the electorate next May.

“Why would we vote for redundancy and the dismantling of our Pensions?”  

That is all they are offering at the moment.

I think sometime in the next 11 months we are going to be asked a question. I hope we all agree that cuts/redundancies/Pensions Scheme dismantled is not what UNISON members would vote for.

Make sure you make plans to spend a few hours on Monday 6 July to attend the lobby of the Future Shape Cabinet Committee.

Future Shape – Message to all staff

On Monday 6 July Barnet Council Cabinet Committee will consider a report on the Future Shape of Barnet Council.

 

At the time of producing this flyer the Trade Unions have no idea what sort of recommendations will be in the report.

Our new Chief Executive has been providing staff with regular updates on Future Shape, recently he wrote:  

there is an emerging theme that all providers in the borough need to be working as ‘one public service’ so that we can better serve our residents.  Thinking through what this means and how we might achieve it seems to me to be crucial to not just the Future Shape Project but actually how the council will operate in the future.”

Whilst no one can predict what Council services will look like it is clear that services will not stay the same. In some cases staff may find themselves working for another organisation. For others it may be working more closely with other public services in Barnet e.g. Primary Care Trust, Barnet College This is why we need you to be discussing this in your team meetings and asking questions about what it could mean.

 

Economic Recession

Future Shape cannot be separated from the Government’s response to the global collapse of the financial sector. It is already  well documented that Public Services are facing £ Billions in cuts over the next five years. It is a concern for all of us as to what this will mean for services and jobs in Barnet.

 

Staff feedback

It is clear from members attending our Trade Union surgeries that staff are sceptical about Future Shape, viewing it as just another ‘privatisation model’. The Trade Unions understand these concerns and have repeatedly expressed them both to the Leader, Chief Executive and Councillors. The exclusion of the Trade Unions from the Seven Future Shape groups was a mistake. If major change is coming, it is vital that we are directly involved from the beginning of the process and throughout and not just at the end.  

 

Locally we have many examples of ill-thought out proposals resulting in staff being privatised only for the service to fail in quality & savings. The Trade Unions are keen that mistakes of the past are not just acknowledged but inform our future relations through Commissioning/Procurement and Contract monitoring.

 

After 6th July Future Shape Cabinet Committee

We are looking to see greater collaboration with our Employer after Future Shape Cabinet Committee. The Trade Unions need to be included in the detailed work on the Future for Services and that includes YOU the staff across all levels of the services.

On Monday 6 July it is important you are there in person with your work colleagues to witness your future both as a member of staff and the services you provide.

 

We are organising a Mass lobby of the

Future Shape Cabinet Committee Monday 6 July 6 pm

outside Barnet House,

Whetstone

North Finchley

Feedback on our meeting with Councillors on Tuesday 2 June

At our meeting we told Councillors that our exclusion from the Future Shape Groups meant we were not able to take part in the consultation. Last September we identified key issues for our members e.g. Pay, annual leave and Pensions, but to date these issues were not viewed as a priority at this stage. We have asked that the Trade Unions need to be fully involved in a future discussions about the Future of Council Services. We were informed a Future Shape report had been agreed at Corporate Directors Group, and a copy would be shared with the Trade Unions once more data had been added from the consultants.  

As for the final Future Shape report for the 6 July Cabinet Committee we will be given the report once it has been signed off by the Lead Cabinet member.  

Speculation in the NLBP village on what maybe being recommended is rife and understandable. I want to draw your attention to the 15 June Cabinet Resources Committee.  Section 3.2 says

“The service provided by the in-house Legal Service is in high demand to deliver on the Council’s priorities. Moving to the Council’s ‘Future Shape’ will involve additional and extensive legal input.”

Full report click here  

It is understandable that if there is going to be major change you will need a good legal team. It is interesting but not unexpected to see other Councils are also already making plans

“Currently, the “Consortium Councils” are the London Boroughs of Barnet, Bexley, Bromley, Havering, Hillingdon, Merton, Redbridge and Sutton.”

The Trade Unions need to examine the Tenderers’ Scores; it is interesting to see Essex County Council put in a tender.

“Which firm of solicitors were the successful bidders?”

Unfortunately this information is in the Exempt report, once it is approved at the committee the name of the firm will be made public.   

Back to Future Shape:

“Does this appointment of a panel of solicitors give an indication as to what we should expect in the Future Shape Cabinet Report 6 July?”  

I suppose we will have to wait for the report.

Barnet’s Got Talent!

We may not have Susan Boyle working for Barnet but we do have talented staff. Whilst we wait for news on what Future Shape will mean for staff and public services I hope staff will be given the opportunity to contribute to any Future changes.  

 

Some Good News

 

Those of you who have had the time to look at the Future Shape website will have noticed the term ‘Quick Win’ on a number of slides. I believe the term ‘Quick Win’ has been acknowledged as an inappropriate term conveying a negative message.

 

Where is the good new news?

If and when services are packaged together they need to go through a robust process before any decisions are made.

 

Cemeteries and Crematorium services were put down as a ‘Quick win’ a Consultants report recommended the privatisation option. The Trade Unions produced a report which raised concerns about the process & recommendations in the report. I am pleased to report the service is going through the correct process. The Trade Unions and the staff are now part of the process. This is key.

 

Back to Future Shape, it is important that staff don’t panic if they see their service being packaged up for a possible privatisation model. There is still a great deal of work which would need to take place before any decisions about moving forward to a procurement including if an in house bid would be included.

 

From the little that is being made available the Seven Groups reflect the complexity of the problem facing Public Services across Barnet. It is important that decisions are not rushed which is why the Trade Unions are confused why there are different completion timescales for the Groups which are clearly interlinked.

To visualise the complexity we have constructed a diagram.

To view image click here http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/sites/default/files/Future_Shape_jenga1.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

Barnet Community Campaign organise lobby with Local residents

This evening approximately 100 Barnet residents took up their democratic right to protest against the budget proposal to delete the sheltered housing service.

Feelings are strong on this issue. In a time when ‘apathy rules’ it is good to see that people feel able to take up this issue. It was a major effort for most of the residents who turned up with walking sticks, zimmer frames, wheelchairs. Service users, relatives and friends have made an extraordinary effort to save the service.

Consultation has taken place. I hope the views have been taken on board. I don’t think anyone would disagree that we should be ensuring the vulnerable are fully supported.

We won’t know until Cabinet meet on 8 June what the decision is, I am sure there will be a lobby of the meeting and residents will want to sit in to hear the decision.

At a time when public confidence in politicians both local and national is at an all time low… it would be a significant sign to the electorate that sometimes the voices of the community are heard and solutions found.

Here are some pictures of the lobby

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28819825@N02/sets/72157618490276622/

Barnet UNISON supporting members in Schools

Nursery Nurses
Negotiations on re-grading for Nursery Nurses are still ongoing. We are awaiting confirmation of the offer before conducting a consultation ballot of our members.

Cover arrangement in schools
Guidance is now out called ‘Rarely cover implementation process’ To view this online click here

Cover is probably one of the biggest issues for support staff. It always seems to be our members who are asked to take on extra duties and not receive the correct grade for the work. Your excellent work is recognised, it is just a shame when we want staff to be paid for this work the same old lines roll out ‘…cuts to the budget, posts will have to go…’

National Negotiating machinery
The negotiations addressing the possibilty of a School Support Staff Negotiating Body (SSNB). Before UNISON would agree to joining the SSNB all our members would have to be consulted. This could have massive repercussions for all our members working in Schools.
The latest newsletter can be read online here.

Demo for Sheltered Housing

Around 200 people demonstrated in Finchley last Saturday in defence of the sheltered warden scheme.
This has very much been a community campaign. A large number of those on the demo were older people who feel so strongly about their wardens they took part in spite of the difficulty and discomfort they had walking such a distance. They were clearly determined to show residents of Barnet what such a cutback would mean to them and shouted their demands “Save Our Wardens” to the passers-by and onlookers.

Representatives of the GMB, RMT, UNISON, PCS, NUT all took part as part of the Barnet Trades Council. At the end of the demonstration Councillor Alison Moore and local MP Andrew Dismore gave speeches adding their support to the campaign. The provision of sheltered housing means that many relatives feel reassured their beloved elderly relations have a degree of security by being in sheltered accommodation and so find it easier to relax knowing help is close at hand for their relative. So there were younger family members on the demonstration making it quite clear what this support means to them also.

But when you get old, wouldn’t you want to know this type of provision exists? If you do then maybe it’s time you joined the campaign on its next stage and took part in the rally outside Hendon Town Hall at 6pm on 19 May 2009.

To view pictures of the demonstration, click here.

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