Thursday, March 01, 2007

LONDON BOROUGH of BARNET “SUPER-SAVER” SCHEME

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

2 comments:

Eve Sheridan said...

Who comes up with these plans?

Anonymous said...

A point that doesn't seem to have been touched on is that some staff, with outgoing direct debits etc synchronised to mid-month, may have to rearrange these to the end of the month. Other parties to these transactions may be less than compliant.