Thursday, August 31, 2006

UNISON Pensions 31 August update


New Look Scheme – Regional Briefings

Six of the regional briefings on the DCLG consultation for the “new look” LGPS have now taken place. These briefings were well attended and saw lively debate on the four options being put forward by the DCLG and the Trade Union Side options. It is important that branches and those attending use the information given out to consult with their wider membership. In particular we would ask that branches seek members’ views on the issues raised in the briefings and then feed them back to their regional pension contact. We want to have a full picture of members’ opinions before we draw up our formal response to the DCLG consultation. We also want feedback on the negotiating options put forward by the Trade Union Side.

Branches should use our briefing paper “Options for new LGPS - Trade Union Side Objectives” to also canvass members’ views. This document can be found on the pensions section of the UNISON website The PowerPoint presentation on the “new look” scheme will be available for download form the pensions section of the UNISON website next week.

In order to keep up with the regular updates from UNISON HQ

Go to for updates

best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary

Friday, August 25, 2006

Feedback from Return2Learn Tutor

"Second chance " - Malcolm Seward CONEL Tutor
We are just coming to the end of the tenth Communications skills course. This means around one hundred learners will have received level one certificates. For many of the learners this opportunity was the first time back in a learning environment since leaving school. For many as well, it is the first certificate they have ever received.

The learners admitted to having mixed emotions about the opportunity to attend a course. Fear of looking stupid, making mistakes, showing themselves up. They soon realised that by working in pairs or small groups, the support or help they needed was available.

Once their initial fears were allayed they all applied themselves and kept me very busy asking for more!
Even the learners who were fearful of computers at the outset were asking for further work. From discussions with learners I know they valued the chance to improve their skills and get to grips with computers. Without fail the learners asked me about progression routes.

The attendance was excellent and I have enjoyed immensely working with all the learners. I think that the authority and UNISON should be very proud of the opportunities that have been made available and hopefully will be made available and hopefully will be made available in the future.
I would also like to thanks Carmen for her tireless efforts and support.

Feedback from Learners on Return2Learn courses

The Learners

"I’ve enjoyed this course immensely. During the five sessions I’ve started to gain more confidence in my ability to overcome the lack of knowledge regarding my communication skills. I also feel more confident in helping my seven year old daughter with her home work. I sincerely hope further courses are more forth coming. "(Refuse Department)

"I thoroughly enjoyed the return to learn course as it was very engaging and well structured. I personally wasn’t very attentive at school and failed to grasp the most common aspects of the English language. So this course was extremely helpful to me as I am more attentive now as I have matured and I have been able to pick up small but important basic s to help me in my future. The teacher was very good and because the class was very friendly I found that I was able to interact and learn more about communication and listening, this has helped me in my job as it requires me to communicate and listen whilst recording the data that is being passed to me." (Parking Attendant)

"This is my last week on the course. I have gained more confidence in writing, punctuation and to write reports. I feel a better person for the following reasons, I have learnt to work together with more people, and feel more confident to talk to people. I would like to take this much further and hope more courses become available. "(Refuse worker)

Return2Learn comes to Barnet

Amazing results……..
I became the Life Long Learner Coordinator at the end of November 2005 and in all my time within the Trade Union Movement this has become one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had.
On the very first morning of the open day, we signed up 70 members of staff. The courses started in January this year and by the end of July we will have had 11 courses for over 150 staff. It has been amazing to watch the staff arriving for the first day a bit apprehensive hoping it was not going to be like school, then two weeks later I meet staff in the depot and they are saying:
“These courses are really great and I am learning something from them”, “I have been able to help my kids with homework which I have never been able to do before, not having the confidence”, or “Do you know I thought I knew how to write letters but really I had forgotten.”
To see some staff who have had very little formal training ask “more please”, has been great.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those operational managers who have helped make this work and make a difference to their staffs lives.
This small project has now spread not only across the Council into Social Services, Educationn/Schools, Resources, other Partner organisations are wanting to take up these exciting opportunities.
If you want to know more about the FREE Return2Learn course
then give me a call at the UNISON office or

Carmen Bruno (Life Long Learning Coordinator)

Social Services Convenor

Hello and welcome

My name is Maggi Myland and I am responsible for organising and representing members working across Adult Social Services, Children's Services and Early Years and Play.

I have a team of stewards across social services but we are always looking for more. If you work in social services and don't have a steward then please contact me at the UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or email

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Fremantle Campaign

Care standards at risk!

Barnet UNISON conducted a survey of pay and as you can see a Fremantle Care worker comes out bottom of the Low Pay League Table. Incredible that a job which involves working with vulnerable residents should warrant such a poor wage.

“What does a care worker do?”

A care worker in the course of their duties will have to provide personal care, administer medication, monitor physical and mental health. They work shifts Monday to Sunday, mornings, evenings. In some of the settings there are specialist units to meet the needs of residents with Alzheimer's, Dementia, Mental Health and Learning difficulties.

“Do they need to have training?”

Yes. They would need to attend the following courses: Manual Handling, Food Hygiene, Medication administration, COSHH, Basic First Aid, NVQ’s up to level 2 ( as required by National Care Standards Commission).
Phewww. Is that all?

Our case is clear, care staff play a crucial role in the quality of life of vulnerable people. We call upon Fremantle to think again. Call off the dismissal notice and sit down with the trade unions to discuss a safe and sensible way forward.

Carmel Reynolds ( Barnet UNISON Fremantle Convenor) and John Burgess ( Branch Secretary)


(Our Hendon Town Picket line made the UNISON National 'In Focus' magazine last month)

Welcome to the first Barnet UNISON
Pensions Blog Update.

Although most of our members will be hopefully enjoying their summer holidays...the Pensions saga continues.

I hope not to complicate matters but things are becoming complicated, I will try to make some sense of what is happening in terms of consultation.

We all know about the85 rule and the right to retire at 60 proposals and the subsequent strike in March this year. We prepared to strike during the local elections unless we at least had parity with our UNISON colleagues in Health. The strike was called off but our demands were not met.

We were then told that we were going to seek a Judicial review to see if we could win the legal argument. At UNISON Confeterence there was heated debate as to whether we should be preparing for industrial action whilst awaiting a legal judgement. The Conference decision to wait and see won by a narrow majority.....the date has been set for the judical review is the 18 and 19 September 2006. Depending on the outcome of the review I think we may hear about a ballot for further industrial action.

But if things were that simple.........they are not. The 85 rule etc was just the start of something much bigger the complete overhaul of the Pension Scheme and it is important for all of us in the scheme to take note. The Governement is consulting on a number of options for the New Look scheme for further details I woudl suggest you go to the following UNISON web site

I attended a UNISON Regional Seminar on 17 August where it was made clear to all those present that NONE of these were UNISON options.

We felt it important that we submit our proposals .....Option E

Our Option E would have the following

  • No detriment to current scheme members retiring at 60
  • Partnership pensions for all (including co-habitees)
  • Clarity for those joining the scheme in the future
  • An increase in death benefitsParity with the other public sector schemes
  • 1/60 accrualTapered contributions in the future scheme

I hope our members have the chance to see Option E and that out UNISON negotiators are able to bring this to the table once negotiations start.

Is everyone now clear?

Next.......the Government without any discussions with UNISON slipped in another Regulation change. This proposed change concerns 'discretionary payments or added years'. These are payments made to staff ( over 50) in the Pension Scheme who retire early or on the grounds of Ill Health (age does not apply in this case). Although these payments are discretionary they can mean up to a payment of six and two thirds years on to your Pension. Government are intending to abolish this method and replace it with a lump sum payment. Teh deadline is the end of September. The Council has a policy and I hope that this will be made public in order that we can consult with our members. I am hopeful however that this will be 'knocked back' I await guidance from UNISON.

So in a nutshell.....................

We are waiting to hear if we are in dispute about the 85 year rule, the New Look Pension Scheme and the Discretionary Payments issue........I haven't even mentioned the Pay Award discussions........that will have to wait for another Blog.

Please let me have any comments suggestions.

Many thanks

John Burgess

Branch Secretary


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Barnet Schools UNISON Conference 28 October 2006

Don’t miss the opportunity to be part of the very first UNISON Conference for School Support Staff in Barnet.

This Conference gives you the unique opportunity to meet with, speak with and lobby, speakers from National UNISON. You can learn all about their negotiations with the Government on your pay and on your terms and conditions.

The last three years have seen the start of major changes for all school staff. We at Barnet UNISON see this Conference as an opportunity for our members across all 126 Barnet schools to meet together, share experiences and find solutions to the problems that have arisen out of the changes. This is your chance to meet other school support staff and discuss issues and grievances that are common to you all.

At he Conference pay and grading, bullying, training opportunities, term time pay and health and safety issue will be discussed It is your chance to make your voice heard and to influence Branch policy.

The Conference will take place in North London Business Park on Tuesday 24 October 2006 commencing with registration at 9.15—10 am. Afterwards there will be a buffet lunch and the opportunity to talk to Branch Officers.

Invitations will be going out to every UNISON member working in a Barnet school. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis, so BOOK EARLY to ensure a place.
John Burgess (Branch Secretary)

P.S. We have two Assistant Branch Secretary's for Education Tracey Lowe and Susan Dunning they will be coordinating the Conference. Any questions or details please contact them at the Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088

Monday, August 21, 2006

Welcome from Barnet UNISON

As new means of communication develops Barnet UNISON will endeavour to keep up to date.
We rely on volunteers to help with our IT/Communication. For the next four months we are going to pilot this blog site to see if our members find it useful.
If you have any suggestions ideas to develop this blog please contact us on the links provided.
John Burgess
Branch Secretary

Welcome to Barnet UNISON

This will be Barnet Unison's official Blog site
John Burgess
Barnet Unison Branch Secretary