When will the National Pay award be paid?

Earlier this month UNISON National issued a statement to say:

“UNISON met with the other trade unions (Unite and GMB) earlier this week, and we did our best to encourage a resolution to the 2023 pay dispute – emphasising the need for members to receive their pay rise as soon as possible. Ultimately, the outcome of the meeting was to reconvene in late October, after the current GMB industrial action ballot closes. Unite are currently taking industrial action in some local authorities. Since the process cannot move forward unless the NJC trade union side has reached an agreement, we cannot proceed until this is the case.”

Barnet UNISON will report back to members as soon as we find out what happened at the meeting with UNISON, Unite and GMB.

The table above shows the NEW GRADES IN YELLOW.

If you don’t know what Grade you are on please contact your supervisor or email Barnet UNISON at contactus@barnetunison.org.uk or leave a voicemail message on our office number 0208 359 2088 (the voicemail is checked every day).

Once the National Pay offer has been agreed, it will be back dated to 1 April 2023.

End.

Industrial relations hit a new low in Barnet Council.

Barnet UNISON will always speak up for our members regardless of employer. We are a trade union, and our role is to organise and support members in the workplace. The last 13 years Austerity policies have had a detrimental impact on our members. Many of our members are exhausted, overworked, stressed out and the cost-of-living crisis is plunging many of our members into debt.

Our branch has organsied many strikes over the last couple fo decades.

However, in our recent strike of Mental Health social workers there appears to be a change in approach towards Barnet UNISON. This is surprising and disappointing that we are now under a Labour Administration. Many of our members are expecting things to be different than when the Tories were in power. Its 17 months since the last election and by 12 October, Barnet UNISON will have taken 20 days of strike action which is more than we had under the last 6 years of the Tories.

To those who keep asking, Barnet UNISON has tried to keep an open dialogue with Barnet Labour Party.

Below are a list of concerns:

1. Barnet Council have refused to talk to Barnet UNISON about life and limb cover. This is the first time in 28 years of being a Barnet UNISON rep in Barnet Council that this has happened. “This never happened under the 20 years under Tory rule in Barnet Council.”

 

2. Barnet Council emailed staff before the strike asking members to respond if they were taking strike action. Whilst the employer can do this, this is the first time they have done this in the last  28 years . “This never happened under the 20 years under Tory rule in Barnet Council.”

 

3. Barnet UNISON wrote to the Chief Executive pointing out the email to members was intimidatory and that senior managers should approach me about Life and Limb cover. Barnet UNISON was assured that senior managers would contact me. We have had three days of strike action and another 3 days of strike action this week and to date no one has contacted me. “This never happened under the 20 years under Tory rule in Barnet Council.”

 

4. Managers have sent several managers to one of the workplaces to in our view to try and intimidate our members. These managers never go to this workplace, and they don’t work in Mental Health Services. This is a childish act which is backfiring. However, the message is clear that management in Adult Social Care are trying to sidestep having to deal with Barnet UNISON. This never happened under the 20 years under Tory rule in Barnet Council.

5. Barnet UNISON has seen an email sent by a senior manager to a UNISON member who was on strike and therefore unable to respond, asking if they were taking strike action. This email shows that senior managers had no plan for life and limb cover. We know because some of our members were contacted on the picket line. This is a shocking lack of respect for the service but towards Barnet UNISON. This never happened under the 20 years under Tory rule in Barnet Council.

 

Before Barnet UNISON members took strike action Barnet Council had been claiming for 9 months that there were no recruitment and retention issues.

On the eve of the formal strike ballot Barnet Council changed their minds and said that there was a recruitment and retention issue but not just in Mental Health but across Adult Social Care. They made an offer of 2.6%.

Barnet Council have consistently denied that they need recruitment and retention payments but last year in a report on Mental Health services they agreed to a recruitment and retention payment (6.2%) for one job role.

Barnet Mental Health social workers rejected the 2.6% deeming it an insult.

Barnet UNISON members working for Adult Social Care have rejected the 2.6% and Barnet UNISON will be registering our claim in a formal meeting on 11 October. If an agreement cannot be reached the issue will be escalated to a meeting with the Chief Executive. If we do not reach an agreement at this meeting a formal dispute will be raised, and Barnet UNISON will be requesting a lawful strike ballot for these members.

Our members are clear that the only way for the service users to receive they urgently need is for the Council to address the chronic staffing issues.

  • Already the wait for an initial screening, which should be completed in 5 days as per the policy is now 12 weeks.
  • The waiting list is now up to 14 months.

The service is in crisis, but managers are in denial.

Each day of strike action increases the waiting lists. The longer senior management fail to take this seriously pushes the service deeper into crisis.

Since 1 September 2023 two staff have already left and there are more planning to leave if things don’t change.

Now is not the time for macho politics. Senior management need to come to the table with a sensible offer. If Family Services can pay up to 25% on top of basic, then Adults need to match it.

End.

Breaking News: Barnet UNISON members HGV drivers Recruitment & Retention ballot result.

Dear Barnet UNISON member,

Firstly , thank you for completing this ballot. It is important that your employer understands how important this payment is for you.

Please see below the result of our internal ballot.

What happens next?

Barnet UNISON has already had a brief meeting last week with the Director to advise of our internal ballot.

We agreed to pass on the results of the ballot to senior management and will look to begin negotiations towards the end of October.

End.

 

 

What do UNISON and the Mental Health social workers hope to achieve with the strike?

A recruitment and retention payment of 20%. This is less than the 25% recruitment and retention payment already given to some Barnet Children and Family social workers. Children and Family social workers receive between 15% and 25% recruitment and retention payment, Barnet Council offered adult social workers the equivalent of a 2.7% payment for two years only.

We feel that the payment will encourage more members of staff, particularly the most experienced, to stay in Barnet this reducing the frequent and destabilising turnover we have been experiencing. In addition, it aims to attract new permanent, experienced social workers who may be opting for work in better paid boroughs. It is only when we have stable staff numbers and crucially staff with significant experience in addition to newly qualified that we will be able to lower our waiting lists and provide the timely and quality care that we want to give to residents.

 

End.

Notes to Editors.

Contact details: Barnet UNISON on 0208 359 2088 or email: contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Background:

Breaking News: 100% vote by Mental Health Social Workers for strike action

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/09/04/breaking-news-100-vote-by-mental-health-social-workers-for-strike-action/

Breaking News: Barnet Council Mental Health social workers to be balloted for strike action.

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/06/13/breaking-news-barnet-council-mental-health-social-workers-to-be-balloted-for-strike-action/

UNISON calls for urgent action over chronic shortages of frontline Mental Health social workers.

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/03/22/unison-calls-for-urgent-action-over-chronic-shortages-of-frontline-mental-health-social-workers/

 

Why are Mental Health social workers planning to strike?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a chronic retention issue within the Mental Health Social Work Teams, 13 permanent and locum staff have left – or in some cases come and gonewithin the last 10 months. A lot of the permanent staff we have lost are the most experienced staff which means the teams are disproportionately made up of newly qualified staff.

We have a large waiting list for allocation of a social worker, some people are waiting over a year to see a social worker in which time they are likely to become more unwell or feel distressed because they aren’t getting the support they need. We deal with very complex situations, working with people in vulnerable situations including adults at risk of self-inflicted harm or harm from others.

We carry out needs assessments to facilitate discharges from hospitals for people with mental ill-health and while hospital discharges are prioritised so allocation takes place relatively quickly, sometimes a wait can still contribute to delays with discharge. As hospital discharges and high-risk situations are prioritised, it can mean that we can’t prioritise seeing people until a situation worsens and cannot do the work we want to do as social workers to put in place things that could prevent or reduce the risk of a situation worsening.

The stress from working in challenging conditions without the resources needed takes its toll on Mental Health social workers and contributes to high staff turnover. When staff leave then it can take a while for their cases to be reallocated which impacts the experience that Barnet residents have of Mental Health services and contributes to longer waiting lists.

 

End.

Notes to Editors.

Contact details: Barnet UNISON on 0208 359 2088 or email: contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Background:

Breaking News: 100% vote by Mental Health Social Workers for strike action

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/09/04/breaking-news-100-vote-by-mental-health-social-workers-for-strike-action/

Breaking News: Barnet Council Mental Health social workers to be balloted for strike action.

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/06/13/breaking-news-barnet-council-mental-health-social-workers-to-be-balloted-for-strike-action/

UNISON calls for urgent action over chronic shortages of frontline Mental Health social workers.

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/03/22/unison-calls-for-urgent-action-over-chronic-shortages-of-frontline-mental-health-social-workers/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking News: UNISON issues notice of strike action across Barnet Council Mental Health social work teams.

Earlier this week UNISON formally notified Barnet Council of the dates of strike action for our Barnet UNISON Mental Health Social Workers who voted 100% for strike action.

The strike timetable is as follows:

 

Week One: Tuesday 26 September

 

Week Two: Tuesday 3 October, Wednesday 4 October

 

Week Three: Tuesday 10 October, Wednesday 11 October, Thursday 12 October

 

The strike ballot is in relation to the chronic staffing issues across frontline mental health social work teams in Barnet Council.

“Adult mental health social workers have the same qualifications, same skills and the same retention problems as children’s workers. The only difference is the value that Barnet is choosing to place on its workers and the value it places on providing mental health services that are staffed to meet the needs of Barnet’s residents.” Barnet UNISON Mental Health social worker.

“Our members are showing the same commitment to the profession they love as Junior Doctors to theirs in taking strike action. Drastic action is needed to keep Mental Health services safe and viable for them and service users. The service needs staff with experience. Currently no one is sticking around because the levels of stress and pay are simply not worth it. Our members are absolutely doing the right thing.” Helen Davies, Branch Chair, Barnet UNISON.

 

“I want to pay tribute to our brave Barnet UNISON members who have decided ‘Enough is Enough!’ We are in the worst Cost of Living Crisis in 76 years, the current pay for social workers doesn’t reflect the level of training and knowledge needed to be able to put up with the escalating levels of stress in a workplace which has been starved of resources due to 13 years of Tory Austerity (the first 5 years under a Coalition Government). When staff are asked ‘Have you considered leaving your current role within London Borough of Barnet in the last few months’ and 100% of staff reply YES, then Barnet Council needs to listen and submit a proposal that shows our members the respect they deserve.” John Burgess, Branch Secretary Barnet UNISON.

End.

Notes to Editors.

Contact details: Barnet UNISON on 0208 359 2088 or email: contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Background:

Breaking News: 100% vote by Mental Health Social Workers for strike action

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/09/04/breaking-news-100-vote-by-mental-health-social-workers-for-strike-action/

Breaking News: Barnet Council Mental Health social workers to be balloted for strike action.

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/06/13/breaking-news-barnet-council-mental-health-social-workers-to-be-balloted-for-strike-action/

UNISON calls for urgent action over chronic shortages of frontline Mental Health social workers.

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/03/22/unison-calls-for-urgent-action-over-chronic-shortages-of-frontline-mental-health-social-workers/

Breaking News: 100% vote by Mental Health Social Workers for strike action

North London Business Park, New Southgate.
Unison members go on strike over pay and conditions at Barnet Council.

On Friday 1 September 2023, Barnet UNISON notified Barnet Council Chief Executive that Mental Health Social Workers voted 100% for strike action with a 78.95% turnout.

The strike ballot is in relation to the chronic staffing issues across frontline mental health social work teams in Barnet Council.

Barnet Council has had a long and proud history of Mental Health Social Work pioneering the crisis intervention model in the 1970’s long before Care in the Community legislation.

Barnet Mental Health Social work teams were sought after workplaces full of experienced social workers, but sadly there has been a long drawn-out neglect towards mental health social work which has led to this current crisis. The demise of Mental Health Social Work Teams can be traced back to Barnet Council’s obsession with the “One Barnet mass outsourcing approach” to service delivery. The focus was on commissioning rather than delivering.

The final nail in the coffin for Mental Health Social Work Teams was in 2016 when Barnet Tories agreed the senior management proposal to delete social work posts and replace them with non social work qualified roles. Barnet UNISON in our report: “Unsafe & Unsustainable” UNISON response to Mental Health Restructure 2016 https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/2016-10-12-UNISON-response.pdf” warned the Council of the consequences of pursuing this ideological change. However, as often, when we submit reports we were ignored.

“This result confirms the strength of feeling amongst our members that the offer submitted to staff is unacceptable. Family social workers are, as a minimum receiving 15% with other social workers receiving 20% or 25%. Staff feel undervalued, insulted, and angry. They are working at the coal face of Mental Health services. A service that has been grossly underfunded by the Tories for 13 years. The levels of stress in the workplace are off the scale. Social workers are voting with their feet. During the period of the strike ballot we lost another social worker who chose to leave for a less stressful job in a university and more money. If the Council doesn’t act now to this crisis, then more staff are likely to leave and that will deepen the crisis within the workplace and impact on the services to service users.” John Burgess Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.

End.

Notes to Editors.

Contact details: Barnet UNISON on 0208 359 2088 or email: contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Background:

1. Breaking News: Barnet Council Mental Health social workers to be balloted for strike action.

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/06/13/breaking-news-barnet-council-mental-health-social-workers-to-be-balloted-for-strike-action/

2. UNISON calls for urgent action over chronic shortages of frontline Mental Health social workers.

https://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2023/03/22/unison-calls-for-urgent-action-over-chronic-shortages-of-frontline-mental-health-social-workers/

 

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