Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Fremantle workers dispute reaches Parliament

John McDonnell MP has delivered on his promise to highlight the outrageous attacks on low paid care workers working for The Fremantle Trust.

John came to a Public Fremantle workers and relatives meeting in January this year to hear for himself the outrageous attacks on Fremantle staff.

Despite the efforts of both UNISON and GMB to try to find a negotiated settlement, Fremantle and their partner in c**** Catalyst have pushed ahead and we are now only 11 days away before they dismiss the TUPE staff who transferred from the Council only 5 years ago.

It is interesting that some apologists for New Labour like to make a distinction between the Private and the Not for Profit organisations that have plagued both Local Government and Health services over the last 20 years.

Well from where I am standing I can't see the difference!....I'd invite anyone to come and meet our members and try and explain how much worse it could have been if they had been transferred to the Private sector!

GET real!

Cuts in pay of up to 30%, attacks on annual leave, premium payments, sickness and a reduced Pension ......................on an already low wage!

Who can defend this sort of treatment?

Which is why we must have more Labour MPs like John McDonnell.

Labour must wake up before it is too late..........

So you have the link to the Early Day Motion .......

Read it and then contact YOUR MP ask them to
sign it NOW.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Fremantle Strike Update 13 March 2007

Fremantle used the Anti Trade Union laws to scupper the strike which was due to start next week.

Well Fremantle & Catalyst both UNISON and the GMB are not going away!

Balloting will start again.

Your attempts to score points by challenging the legality of the ballot further demonstrates your lack of respect for the staff who have for the past 20 years loyally provided a service to the most vulnerable members of our society.

Your proposals will push our members to the poverty line and pile on more pressure for those who are now looking a a much reduced Pension as a result of your cuts to their terms and conditions.

You had a choice to take on the staff. Our members did not have the same choice,

BUT if you asked them all now they would all jump at the chance to be employed by the Council.

Who is paying for your proposals?

Fremantle, Catalyst?................NO

It is the staff who PAY.......with the loss of their pay, annual leave, sickness entitlements .
It is residents who will be at risk as quality staff leave only to be replaced by agency staff.

We are not be surprised by your tactics......you have already put down a marker early in this dispute when you wrote to our members to asking them to sign away their terms and conditions the week before Christmas.

Then sending managers down to each setting allegedly to help staff sign the letter!

Then we had reports that staff were being told that if they don't sign away their terms and conditions until the last possible moment they will not get the best shifts.....................

How do you sleep at night?

Because of this delay staff as from the 1 April 2007 will be moved to the poverty wages. We will be balloting our members at the same time they see the true impact of what you are taking from them!

Fellow Trade Unionists/MPs/Relatives /Supporters
you can help simply email the

Fremantle Chief Executive Carol Sawyer at carole.sawyers@fremantletrust.org
Catalyst Chief Executive Rod Cahill at rod.cahill@chg.org.uk

Barnet Super Saver Scheme -It's...............

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Staff will have heard by now that the Council is ‘considering’ changing the date when you are paid – from mid to end month. If you haven’t heard, ask your managers why not and request a copy of the information that went out.

The Director’s Group, who have put this brilliant idea forward, claim there will be a ‘saving’ of £80,000 to £123,000 per year. This will be achieved by keeping two of the four weeks money you are normally paid on the fifteenth of each month for an extra fortnight. By playing the money markets, it is said, extra interest can be achieved. The amount quoted, by the way, is a miniscule part of a council budget of over £141,000,000 and will only be achieved if the money markets are favourable.

‘What a great idea’, you may think, ‘how much extra will I get ?’ The answer is nothing, zilch, a big fat zero. In fact if you save on a regular basis, you will lose out. The interest on your money (you’re already owed it), will be going into Barnet’s coffers rather than your pocket.

If this was proposed out in the commercial market how many people would choose to join? In reality it would probably be reported to ‘Watchdog’ for investigation. But at least there would be some element of choice; you could choose to join or not.

The trade unions, UNISON and GMB, have argued that, apart from the principle involved, this change would have the greatest adverse effect upon those staff on the lower levels of the pay structure. Perhaps if we all got paid the same amount as the members of the Directors Group, we wouldn’t see a problem with this proposal either!

Two arguments have been put forward in support of this ‘supa-saver’ scheme. The ‘business case’ is the first. Of course it is good business for Barnet to deny you what you are already entitled to, but equally it is a good ‘business case’ for us to demand our money so that we can benefit from any interest that it might earn. If this ‘business case’ is so good why does the Borough not delay paying all it’s bills by a fortnight ?

The second is that it will reduce ‘overpayments’. There is a claim that a substantial amount of money is lost to the Council when someone leaves before they have worked the two weeks that is paid in advance under the present system. The amount again is minimal in terms of the overall budget. In 2006, 96 people left owing Barnet £71,451.57. We believe that a similar amount of overpayment results from system errors. Again whilst Barnet Council shows great concern about bad debts when staff are involved, they actually have processes to write these off when they occur elsewhere in their budgets.

The Trade Unions have vigorously rejected this proposal. However your senior managers seem to believe we are making a fuss about nothing. That you, the staff, who, we are constantly being told are Barnet’s ‘greatest asset’, will accept this change almost without comment or protest.

Both Trade Unions suggest you prove them wrong. UNISON has already conducted a ballot of the members they represent; who, not only, overwhelmingly rejected the proposed change of date, but also indicated a willingness to take industrial action. The GMB may well be forced to follow suit shortly if this idea is not withdrawn.

In the meantime, both UNISON and GMB Unions urge every member of staff, if you disagree with the change of pay date, to ensure that management know how you feel. Contact senior managers by whatever means you have at your disposal and inform them, politely of course, of your views. Let them know what you think of their proposal or email in confidence your trade union representatives at either john.burgess@barnetunison.org.uk or mick.carter@barnet.gov.uk

Tell them the effect it will have upon you and your family. What difficulties you will face.

What next?

Plan A
The Trade unions have registered a ‘collective dispute’ with the Greater London Provincial Council. So everything stays on hold until an agreement is reached.

Plan B (only to be used in the event that Plan A is not successful)
1. Petition to the Leader of the Council – copies available from your trade union office

2. Mass grievances to the Chief Executive – please contact your Trade Union for copy of the grievance and envelope.

3. The Trade Unions will contact their respective Regional offices in relation to commencing a formal ballot for possible industrial action.

If you need any practical assistance in doing this, perhaps because you do not have access to a computer, but want to send an e-mail, contact either of the Trade Union Offices: Unison 020 8359 2088, GMB 020 8359 5086 and we will do our very best to assist you.

John Burgess Mick Carter
UNISON Branch Secretary GMB Acting Convenor