Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's bl***dy criminal...........................

It's disgusting, insulting
I was shocked to read in the recent Guardian annual survey on pay. Our members are going to be asked whether they want to accept another pay cut..........

Boardroom pay at the UK's top companies soared 37% last year as full-time directors were rewarded with inflation-busting increases in basic salaries, big cash bonuses and substantial payouts from share schemes.

The surge in pay, which takes the average total pay for a chief executive to £2,875,000, is more than 11 times the increase in average earnings and nearly 20 times the rate of inflation as measured by the consumer price index. The ratio between bosses' rewards and employees' pay has risen to 98:1, up from 93:1 a year ago - meaning that the work of a chief executive is valued almost 100 times more highly than that of their employees.

The figures are revealed in the Guardian's annual survey of executive pay at the 100 biggest companies on the stock market, conducted in association with the pay consultancy Reward Technology Forum. The pay rise for the 2006/07 financial year is the biggest in recent years. The previous year directors' pay climbed 28%, following rises of 16% and 13%.

For the first time last year the rewards handed over to the directors of FTSE 100 companies topped £1bn. The news comes after the Guardian revealed that bonuses for City workers rose 30% last year. And the huge rewards are being paid at a time when increasing numbers of homeowners are facing the threat of repossession and household debt is at record levels.

The TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, said top directors were "losing touch with reality" and described the disparity in rewards as "morally offensive".

Topping the league of FTSE 100 directors' pay is Bob Diamond, who heads the investment banking arm of Barclays Bank and earned £23m last year. Mr Diamond, who is not chief executive of the bank, earns a basic salary of only £250,000, but his package was magnified nearly 100-fold as a result of a performance bonus of £10m and about £12m in share awards.

Three other top earners earned eight-figure salaries. They include Bart Becht, chief executive of Reckitt Benckiser, the company behind household brands such as Cillit Bang and Mr Sheen, and Giles Thorley, the boss of the Punch Taverns pubs group. Their pay last year was £22m and £11m respectively. Mr Thorley also emerges as the boss whose salary is most out of line with his employees; his remuneration package is equal to 1,147 of his employees, mostly pub workers.

Lord Browne, the former chief executive of BP, received £11m. He was forced to step down earlier this year after it was revealed he had lied in court.

Part-time chairmen of top companies - who generally work no more than two days a week - now earn an average of £311,000, up 15% on a year ago.

The Equal Opportunities Commission described that statistic as "shocking".

The 37% increase in average pay was fuelled by annual cash bonuses and gains from long-term, share-based incentives which enabled executives to cash in on rising share prices. Basic boardroom salaries were up just 5%. Including cash bonuses and other benefits the average increase was 13% - but it was stock market gains that provided the bumper returns.

Mr Barber said: "It is impossible to believe that top directors have become so much more productive than the rest of their staff over the last year. This growing gap is not just morally offensive but hits workforce morale, feeds through into house price inflation and threatens social cohesion. Britain's boardrooms are slowly losing touch with reality."

Miles Templeman, director general at the Institute of Directors, said "exceptional performance should be rewarded" and pointed out that pension funds would also benefit from a rising stock market.

For full article go to:,,2157974,00.html#article_continue

Fremantle Care Workers - Stand up for your rights

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

E- Petitions

These are one of the latest ways to campaign and apply pressure. Please take time to sign the following Petitions:


Council Housing:

Fremantle Care Workers

Fremantle International


Friday 28 September 2007 is the last day to submit an application for a loan to help when the pay date moves in October.
Make sure you submit your application. The Payroll helpline number is 0208 359 7936

If you would like to meet with Payroll staff to discuss any issues relating to the change in the pay date, please come along to one of the following sessions:

28 August - Hendon Town Hall Committee Room 1 1pm to 3pm

29 August - N.L.B.P. Danube Room 1pm to 4pm

30 August - Mill Hill Depot TBA

31 August - Barnet House. Room 4, 1st Floor 1pm to 3pm

3 September - Mill Hill Depot TBA

4 September - Mill Hill Depot TBA

Please let the UNISON office on 0208 359 2088/2083 if you are experiencing any problems.

Fremantle goes international!

Good news. Fremantle care workers dispute is now reaching a truly international audience. This is the first time UNISON has put a campaign on

Translations of the dispute are being written as this message goes out.

Pay- Deadlock broken by new offer?

Firstly I would like to update you as to what has been happening with regards to this years National Pay Award (some of you may refer to it as cost of living increase). For the previous three years we were tied into a three year deal so your increase was already calculated and paid from the 1 April.

This year there has been no increase for all staff . We have a new Prime Minister but it doesn’t appear to have changed Governments attitude to public sector workers.

Gordon Brown is determined to keep pay down to a 2% increase! It is important to understand that the cost of living is running at 4.8%. This means if things stay the same you are being offered a pay cut not a pay award! The latest news is that the Employers are offering more…wait for it…………..another 0.5%

Food, fuel, council tax, rent and mortgages are all increasing, much greater than 2 or 2.5% for example recently, interest rates for mortgages went up by 0.25 %. For someone with a £100,000 mortgage this would equate to £16 a month increase. Will the 2 or 2.5% Pay Award offer be enough for you?

It was not good enough when it was debated at National Conference see
This motion was carried so it is likely that we could soon be balloting for industrial action

We have to report back to National ahead of their meeting on 4 September 2007. Barnet UNISON will put out a Poll online on our BLOG top left hand corner of this BLOG

Please take time to VOTE.

Have you signed No 10 Downing St Petition submitted by our branch to Gordon Brown?

Friday, August 24, 2007

National Pay - Branch Secretary - second job........................

"It's fair cop" said John Burgess when asked about the photographic evidence presented at today's TV interview.

"My only defence is that our Pay Awards over the last few years have been well below inflation and with spiralling costs, mortgages, fuel & food, bills, council tax...... I just could not say No to George.....after all neither could Tony!......over to you Gordon?"

Fremantle - Isabella's story

National Pay -Get involved!

Sign the
your watching him!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Apathy- Societies biggest challenge?


As Trade Unionists we have all been there, trying to engage and inform members about the dangers facing them. How often have we said if only we had...... a little bit earlier......

Well it is not just a challenge for Trade Unions it is a challenge for our society. How do we engage people. What is the best way to communicate?

We all complain about politicians not listening but how many of us actually contact them?

In terms of Barnet UNISON we will continue to look at how we communicate and seek members views as to how they want to be contacted.

For those who feel that there is no point campaigning or challenging decisions I thought I would include a few examples of when UNISON members have said enough is never know it could happen to all of us one day.............................

National Pay 'Now is the winter of our discontent..........

‘Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this sun of York’ (in the original Shakespeare is referring Richard 111 as the 'sun of York........)
But we could really be heading for a Winter of Discontent for Gordon Brown..remember Winter 1979?????

If there is no change in terms of the offer by the D – DAY 4 Sept it looks like we could have 4 million public sector workers taking strike this winter!

Make sure you take part in the Poll on the top left hand corner of our BLOG at

Future of ALMOs - Council Housing?

ALMO's were created to enable Council's to access money to meet the Decent Homes target 2010.

UNISON along with all the other major public sector trade unions & the council tenant led organisation (Defend Council Housing) argued that this was merely one step away from privatisation.
We predicted the early promises of money for Decent Homes would not be so forthcoming.
We predicted Housing services would be moved out of their communities, as the ALMO’s sought to reduce costs.
In their attempts to persuade tenants to support the ALMO. The ALMO's promised, new kitchens, new bathrooms and new windows, however tenants quickly found that these promises were broken. The new offer became new windows, OR new bathroom OR new kitchen.

Well, for those who say there is no point campaigning…take a look at Defend Council Housing, every member of staff working in Housing should have this website as one of their favourites.

Against the odds with limited resources they have been taking this fight to government for over 10 years. They have taken on Councils & their Consultants (all bought & paid for with council tenants money mind you!) and won ballots (against ALMOS & Stock transfer) up and down the country.

It isn’t rocket science to see that the Housing crisis we are in is a result of the policies of both Conservative & sadly Labour governments! Private sector are just not interested in Council Housing, Housing Associations were not set up for this scale of Housing provision.

Sadly, this Private Good, Public Bad mentality is not confined to Housing we see it in Social Services, NHS, Schools. This policy has FAILED!

However……we have a new Prime Minster, we have a Housing crisis and for the first time since the 70’s we could start to see Councils building homes………..

Please take some time, it takes less than 60 seconds to sign the E Government Petition

So what about the future of ALMO’s?

They were set up for a limited period. There are a number of possibilities

1. Return to the Council
2. Merge with another ALMO
3. Taken over by a Housing Association
4. Taken over by Lord Voldermort???

Members working in ALMO’s need to consider their future.
· Have their T& C’s improved since moving to the ALMO?
· Are you working more for less?
· Have services already been outsourced?

Feedback from our activists working in Housing Associations do not paint a positive picture of employment practices.

In terms of Barnet Homes & Barnet Council we will be seeking discussions as to it's future. We will be consulting with our members and looking to commission a report into the options for ALMO’s.

Whatever your views it is important to take part in our consultations over the next 12 months.
Finally check to see if your MP has signed the Early Day motion in support of the Fourth option

Council Services SELL OFF

In October 2007 the Local Government White paper becomes law.
All staff working in Local Government need to know that this gives the GREEN light

to privatise all service areas of the Council.
In the past when services have been under threat of privatisation staff have been told that they will be ok , their terms will be protected, services will not change

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Personal accounts of the costs of privatisation......

17 August 2007 - 3 day of Strike Action

Whether you work in Local government, NHS, Higher Education, Further Education, watch and listen to the accounts of the Fremantle Care Workers. When managers try and reassure you about TUPE, show them this!

In this case 5 years after selling off the Council owned residential care homes and day care services to Catalyst Housing. Catalyst Housing have billed Barnet Council for £8.672 million.

Who was responsible for putting together this package together?

It is about time senior managers on £100K salaries take responsibility when things go badly wrong. We do not expect Barnet to pay up, but if they do, it will almost certainly mean cuts across Council Services…which inevitably will mean services and jobs!

This Government Lemming like policy must end……every worker in Public Services needs to seek a meeting with their local MP.

If you are not in a Trade Union then join UNISON.

Privatisation - Fremantle style

2 Strike day 23 July 2007

Inspirational…maybe it is my northern upbringing but you can’t beat a good brass band………

Monday, August 20, 2007

National Pay.............

Something has got to give...................
Quite frankly our members could do with some receiving and less of the giving!
D - DAY 4 September 2007.
Bottom line for all local governement workers is how much more are we prepared to put up with the lack of respect and recognition for the hard work you all do.
Brown could not be any clearer with what HE wants.......
WE need to be clear what WE want.

Friday, August 17, 2007

When Procurement goes BAD........Fremantle Care Workers take a coach trip to Catalyst Housing

For most of this campaign we have focused on Fremantle Trust. However they have a partner Catalyst Housing Group (formerly known as Ealing & Family Housing). Catalyst secured the contract with Barnet Council to reprovide residential and day care services. They sub contract the care contract to Fremantle.

It has now come to light that Catalyst are demanding Barnet Council pay £8.672 million! Yes you read correctly..........................

Today we went to Catalyst Housing to deliver a letter to their Chair Dame Mavis McDonald
Dame Mavis was not there but Catalyst Housing sent down Phil Shemmings (Head of Communications and Public Relations to receive our letter on her behalf.
We will let you know when she replies.
More later.....................................

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I am writing to explain that the Fremantle Residential Care Homes strikes are far more than issues about pay and terms and conditions.

Care Standards.
This campaign is growing as more people recognise that this is much more than just an issue about pay but about Care Standards and how we monitor them. Fremantle Care Workers formerly employed by London Borough of Barnet are all highly trained. It is their professionalism and high standards that has driven them to make a stand over what they see as a deterioration in standards of care within their workplaces.

They are not the only ones to notice it, CSCI inspectors have also recently commented on staffing levels. Barnet UNISON is concerned by the deployment of apprentices in some settings working for £4.45 an hour. We understand that these staff are not supernumary (as Fremantle claim) and have challenged Fremantle to confirm these staff are not being left alone with highly dependent residents.

What we are seeing in this campaign is the growing realisation amongst staff, relatives, carers that it is no longer acceptable to settle for second or third best when talking about services for older people. How many times have we heard politicians talk about the increasing burdening cost of social care? Yet in the same breadth we are told we are the 5th largest economy in the world!

Every one of us will sooner or later come into contact with someone receiving care either in a hospital, residential or nursing home or day services. Don’t we all want to be sure when we leave our family members or friends in their care; that the highest standards are provided? When one watches a TV documentary exposing abuse of older people by visiting care staff, who doesn’t shake their heads with incredulity that someone could do that to another vulnerable human being?

But it can easily happen and it is easily explained.

For example, an agency worker turns up at a care home for her first day. She has to help 3 residents to wash and change and have breakfast. All the residents are highly dependent. She doesn’t have time to read the notes, doesn’t have time because of the pressure on staff (due to minimum staffing levels) to help residents get ready for breakfast. Perhaps she was distracted or simply not trained but one of the residents is left on a toilet for 30 minutes before a regular member of staff responds to the alarm in the toilet. Whilst providing one of the residents with some tea the agency worker puts the cup down and fails to let the resident (partially sighted) know. The resident puts her fingers in the hot tea.

Is this brief scenario real? Yes it is. It is but a glimpse as to how abuse and that’s what this is, can start. One of the many problems we have with Fremantle is that they have not been able to deal with the blunt truth that Barnet is in London not Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. They already had a recruitment and retention problem before they took away the former Barnet Council employed staff terms and conditions it is now even harder to recruit permanent staff.

Public money
Last week at a Cabinet Resources committee (19 July 2007) we learnt that Catalyst Housing (Housing Association partner of Fremantle has made a Deficit claim for £8.672 million. This is the same organisation (then called Ealing & Family Housing Association) that was given 12 prime real estate locations as part of the deal to modernise our 12 residential and day care settings. That’s right they were given land belonging to Barnet residents as part of a deal and now they are coming back with a claim for more money. It doesn’t end there. Part of the deal was for them to rebuild 5 settings, they have only built 3.

It doesn’t make sense does it? Catalyst get their maths wrong, then Catalyst ask Barnet residents to foot the bill.

Barnet UNISON in 1999 said the ‘sell off ’it didn’t make sense and we were right. What this debacle demonstrates is that selling off Barnet residents assets does not always make good business sense. It is clear from the Cabinet Resources report of last week that the contract with Catalyst ‘is not financially viable’. In that case we should bring the contract back in-house and the real estate assets returned to Barnet residents.

Local community
90% of those working in these Fremantle care homes and day care settings are also Barnet residents paying Council Tax, rents, mortgages, fuel bills, sending their kids to Barnet Schools. Driving down terms & conditions does have an impact on the local community. It also drives down pay in the private & voluntary sector care service provision.

Do we as a community and society in general think so little about those who care? Think about it for a moment. Does anyone really believe that someone on the minimum wage will want to stay in that job for long? Who hasn’t heard ‘my carers keep changing, I just get to know them and they are off’ It isn’t rocket science you pay people crap pay they either leave or more worryingly they take on another additional job. It is common knowledge that those working on low pay have to have more than one job. When caring for others the last thing you need is a overtired care worker, it is another reason how abuse can happen in the workplace.

Individualised care budgets
Another brilliant idea from Government, or is it?
The spin is that it will provide greater choice and flexibility and choice for those requiring services. If it was that simple. Perhaps I am just too cynical but when something like this comes along claiming that not only will it provide more choice, more flexibility BUT it will cost less I quickly look to the skies looking for flying pigs.

This new scheme is being piloted in 13 Councils around the country. However Barnet Council is not waiting for the outcome of the evaluation and is implementing this Scheme for Barnet residents. Barnet UNISON has requested urgent talks and is looking to facilitate a Public meeting this autumn to discuss the implications for services users, carers and staff.

If it is not clear already the Fremantle Care Workers campaign is about Care standards, public money, and local communities.

John Burgess
Branch Secretary