Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ken Loach -International Film Director meets Fremantle Care Workers

Ken Loach Film Director paid an unexpected but welcome visit to the Barnet UNISON office this evening. Ken had heard about the Fremantle Care Workers campaign and wanted to speak to them personally. One of my favourite Ken Loach films (apart from Kes and Cathy Come Home) is bread and roses . A story about low pay and exploitation of migrant workers.......something we know a lot about in this country!

Further interviews with Ken are set to take place………….watch this space!

Barnet Council Budget 2008/9

Unless Gordon Brown has a change of policy it is anticipated that the money
allocated to Barnet Council will mean all directorates will be expected to
making savings.

Over the last four years we have had radical cuts which have led to over 800
posts being deleted, nearly half of those staff being made redundant or
taking early retirement. It is clear to UNISON that the pressure to deliver
more for less is impacting on the health and wellbeing of staff. We have no
reason to believe that the budget settlement for this year is going to be
good news. It is important that we fully consult with our members and
regularly provide accurate information.
As we approach Christmas, speculation and rumour are commonplace which often creates undue stress on staff. We will endeavour to inform staff of what we actually know to be true
and promise to seek clarification of any rumours or speculation.

If you have any information or questions please email

Fremantle - Why Barnet UNISON members should take note.

Dear Colleagues

You will be receiving a request from your branch to help
provide support for the Fremantle Care Workers.

It is important that as many of you as are able to, support your fellow
UNISON members.

The sheer scale of the cuts to their terms and conditions is extraordinary.
If this level of cuts were proposed in Barnet I am sure the Council would
grind to a halt. Our branch has worked well with the Fremantle Convenor,
Carmel Reynolds and the Regional Organiser, Eddy Coulson. We have done what any good branch would do, we have enlisted the support of our General
Secretary, Dave Prentis and recently the General Secretary's of all the big
unions at the recent TUC conference.

Our campaign has spread across London region and all around the UK.
Recently it has been supported by an international trade union website
LabourStart http://www.labourstart.org/

As a direct result of their publicity we have had unprecedented messages of
support to the workers and emails to the Fremantle Chief Executive
condemning their action.

We have written twice to 1200 UNISON branches across the UK asking them to support our email and postcard campaign and to send donations to the ‘Barnet UNISON industrial action fund’

The privatisation of our older adults residential and day care services
provides a clear case of why UNISON opposes privatisation. Not only are we
concerned about the quality of care being provided and the attacks on our
members terms and conditions. We are concerned to hear that the Council is
being billed for £8,672 million. We know that the council wants to
renegotiate the contract and we can understand why!

The Fremantle experience provides a salutary lesson as to the dangers of
privatisation. Our branch will robustly challenge any attempts to privatise
services. We recognise that staff are working hard to deliver quality
services for Barnet residents. We know the Council is proud of the services
you are proving and last years positive CPA inspections results are evidence
of that hard work.

However, this government is pushing the privatisation agenda
http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/B3220b.pdf and it is important that
Barnet staff are prepared for the challenge.

You are our 'eyes and ears'. You know what is and is not working. If you do
not feel able to share concerns with your manager or if you have suggestions
which could improve the service then you can email us at
contactus@barnetunison.org.uk . We can raise the issues on your behalf or arrange for UNISON rep to meet with you to discuss your issue.

In this ever changing world you need to make sure you are receive training.
Training and development should be part of your appraisal. If you have not
had an appraisal in the last 12 months then ask for one. If you do not feel
able to then contact us at contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Exciting Learning opportunities!
Currently Barnet UNISON is working in partnership with Barnet Council to
provide training in work time. If you want to know more then contact
carmen.bruno@barnetunison.org.uk or susan.timthong@barnetunison.org.uk


It is official http://www.unison.org.uk/file/A3466.pdf.doc
850,000 UNISON members working in local government are to receive their
strike ballot papers soon. The timetable for the ballot will mean that
letters of intent to employers will be sent out from 26 September. The
ballot papers will be despatched by post to individual members on
5 October.
If there is a 'yes' vote and the Industrial Action Committee gives the green
light to strike action, the first two days of action would take place
between 14 and 20 November.

It is important that all of you make sure you take part in this ballot. You
need to ask yourself the question "Am I worth more?"

Gordon clearly doesn't think so .
The only way our negotiators can make him think again is a massive 'YES' vote for industrial action.

If you have not received your ballot paper by 11 October, please call 0845
355 0845. Requests for ballot papers must be received by noon on 23

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fremantle speaking plainly

Care Workers deliver letters to Fremantle HQ

Fremantle Care workers delivering letters to the Fremantle Trustees at their HQ.


Our slogan & we are still waiting

Bucks Health branch came to show their solidarity with Fremantle Care workers

Bucks Local Government branch handing over £100 donation to Fremantle Care Workers


or go to:


Fremantle Care Workers Strike 20 September 2007

Each time these care workers take action it produces something special. Today was no different.
our branch, our union, can be proud to stand side by side these care workers.

When the 196 careworkers in Fremantle had their terms and conditions slashed on 1 April 2007, many of us may have just accepted it, moved on......BUT not these care workers........they really care about the work they do and the standards they were trained to keep!

It is clear that they are not backing down until Fremantle provide something to really discuss. It is simply not acceptable in our society that staff providing vital services to the most vulnerable in our communities should have to put up with these sort of attacks .......

Which is why we are already planning our next day of strike action which will be at the weekend. This will give all our supporters time to come down to join us on the picket lines and take part in our march and public meeting. We are meeting with our UNISON regional officials to discuss the planning of the day next week.
So check out the date, rearrange your diary and join with us!

I am going to shut up now and let a very special women speak. Daphne Israel 80 years old, she attends one of the Barnet Fremantle day centres BUT today she was our honoured guest on our trip to Fremantle HQ and she is really angry .................

Find out why....................

Saturday, September 15, 2007

TUC conference - Fremantle Care Workers visit

What an experience!

We just want to thank everyone from those issuing the visitor passes, TUC delegates, General Secretary's, our own UNISON NEC delegates for all your support it really does show what belonging to the Trade Union family really means.

The Fremantle Wall

We have been so overwhelmed by our postcard campaign, we thought we would put them on our wall and share it with you with a little music on our video clip below

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Fremantle attack LabourStart - ALL those concerned about Free speech read on!

Dear Colleagues

As you will know. LabourStart have been promoting our campaign at the request of UNISON HQ.

The response has been incredible and has demonstrated the power of the internet to support trade union members across the world.

To those of you unfamiliar with this organistion they provide information of campaigns across the world. Often they are exposing organisations/ governments who may have murdered, tortured , imprisoned Trade Union activists for going about their business, something which we all take for granted in this country. As with the Fremantle campaign, they will have a standard email detailing the issue and request readers to send the email off to the Head of the Organisation or Government.

Now here is the shocking bit.

LabourStart have never been threatened........................not until now!

Fremantle ( yes Fremantle a 'Not for Profit' organisation) threatened them last week with legal action. They have a different spin as to how their cuts have affected our members and were unhappy to see the real story exposed. When the legal threats did not work, Fremantle went to LabourStarts ISP and complained.

The ISP gave LabourStart notice to take off the campaign by Friday 7 Sept at 12 or be closed down. LabourStart were unable to get an assurance from the ISP that they would close them down so yesterday reluctantly on Friday 7 Sept at 12 noon they took down the campaign..........................

However the campaign has not gone away.........within minutes it was alive and and now very angry...............

I am proud to introduce you to.......

This link is being circulated worldwide as I am typing. I am sure those reading this BLOG will be adding it to their favourites and forwarding it on.

So, our campaign to restore the Single Status (Equal Pay) terms and conditions stolen from our low paid women care workers continues........................

We have another issue which ALL Trade Unions can not ignore and that is attempts of employers to silence dissent, something that is at the heart of a democracy.

Our Branch is already receiving messages of support and condemnation of the sacking of Andrew and the atttacks on LabourStart...details of these messages will be published over the next few days.


"The campaign we launched a little more than a week ago in support of low-paid workers in care homes in north London has generated more support than any other campaign we have ever done.

Already, well over 8,100 messages have been sent to the employer. This is even bigger than our 2005 campaign in support of the Gate Gourmet workers, which was a much more widely publicized dispute in the mainstream media.

As we mentioned in this week's mailing to our subscribers, the employer reacted swiftly and brutally -- first threatening us with a libel action in the English courts and then sacking a union rep.

And then on Thursday, in an unprecedented move, the employer (Fremantle Trust) contacted our internet service provider and demanded that they shut down the campaign or else face a lawsuit themselves.

We were contacted by the legal department of the internet service provider and told that we had until noon on Friday to close down the campaign or else the entire LabourStart site would be shut down.

We worked very hard over those 24 hours to attempt to get our provider to back down, and had the full support of Unison (Britain's giant public sector union, whose members are at the center of the dispute) but were not successful in doing this before the noon deadline on Friday.

As a result, at 11:59 yesterday we were compelled to shut down the campaigns.

But -- we instantly revived the campaign in nine languages on a different server, in a different country, with a new name that reflects our feeling at this time.

The new site is called "We will not be silenced!" and is located, appropriately enough, at

If you have not yet sent off your message of protest to Fremantle, please do so from the new page.

Please also inform all your lists and every trade unionist you know to use the
new site to send a loud and clear message to this employer.

If Fremantle Trust were unhappy to receive 8,000 emails, how are they going to feel about getting thousands more in the next few days? Because that is exactly what is going to happen.

We will not be intimidated, we will not be bullied, and we will not be silenced. The campaign continues.
Enjoy your weekend.

Eric "

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Financial aid for LabourStart wanted

Maria's story

Maria (a fictional name) is a care assistant. She used to work for Barnet Council before being transferred to Fremantle Trust. Her terms conditions (T&C) were protected when she transferred over.
Maria’s hourly rate £8.31 (Fremantle’s equivalent is rate is for the same job is £6.66)

On the 1 April 2007 Fremantle Trust took away Maria’s T&Cs.

Q. How much is she losing as a result of changes to weekend working and bank holidays?

Before Fremantle imposed their new T&Cs Maria would earn £6,314 (before tax) for having to work 26 weekends and 8 bank holidays.

Now working under Fremantle imposed rates working the same hours/shift etc she will earn £4,568 a 28% reduction in income for what are already low paid workers.

Q. Why are staff working increased hours.

Staff are having to work increased hours (some times double shifts) to make up the loss of income as a result of the cuts to pay rates.

As a result of staff losing annual leave (up to 11 days for those working full time), staff are working increased hours for no extra income.

Q. What are the details on Sick Pay.

Our members’ sick pay entitlement was 6 months full pay and 6 months half pay. The system imposed on our members is the first three days are unpaid waiting days with stat pay for 4 days. The entitlement is now only 13 weeks in total.

Q. What has happened in Pensions

Pension contributions are related to earnings. In Maria’s case any reduction in her earnings will mean a reduction in her Final Pension entitlement.

Q. What about the Three year pay freeze
Inflation has been over 4% for the first quarter of this year – it’s 4.5% now.
Average earnings are rising by 4%. A three year pay freeze pushes Maria closer to poverty wages.

Overtime payments.
Previously there would be an enhanced rate as per the Green Book National Agreement. Time and half & double time. Under Fremantle all overtime is just paid at plain time.

Another cut in pay for Maria!

Clearly by adding the costs of working longer fo rless or the same, losing income and ultimatley a lower pension, takes the cost of these proposals to over 30% .

Fremantle have just issued a rebuttal to our claims and sent them to all their staff. I am sure staff who have experienced these cuts across all their conditions no what has really happened!
Finally as we now have a global audience.
In the UK we have a national agreement known as Single Status. In brief this was to address he historic and discriminatory aspects of pay for women in the UK.
EQUAL PAY is at the heart of this agreement. Our Fremantle Care Workers benefited from this agreement around the time of the transfer to Fremantle.
Fremantle have by their actions dismantled this agreement.
We have a serious problem here . Our Union along with other Unions have fought for Equal Pay. It can not be right for a new Employer to 'dismantle' all this hard work and condemn women to poverty wages.
The Government obviously recognised the importance about Equal Pay.
The Government should act now!
This is why this dispute is crucial to our union, locally, regionally, nationally and now internationally. Globalisation threatens Trade Unions and workers across the world.
Our challenge as Trade Unionists is to respond as our history tells us.
To do what our member expect.
Defend terms and conditions.
Thank you for your continuing support

Monday, September 03, 2007

UNISON Labour Link elections - WHY VOTE

On this matter I can only comment in a personal capacity, as an APF payer and member albeit (inactive) member of the Labour Party. For full details of the election go to UNISON via this link http://www.unison.org.uk/elections/pages_view.asp?did=5620
In London we have a choice between Andrew Berry ( Islington Local Government)http://jonrogers1963.blogspot.com/2007/09/unison-labour-link-elections-why-i-back.html
and Rachel Voller
I honestly don't know Rachel Voller (UCH) , I've not heard Rachel speak at Regional Council. However my concern about her election address is right near the end where she referred to extremist parties!
Quite frankly this is outdated perception of who we as UNISON members should really be worried about. I know my Fremantle Care workers did not find themselves under attack from extremist parties. No, they were outsourced by a Labour Council! As hard as that is to stomach , being a Labour voter, that is a fact!
However I do see the change in Prime Minsiter as a opportuntiy for more debate within the Labour Party (despite the news that he appears to want to stifle the influence of Labour party members and the trade unions!) which is why those entitled to vote should make sure they use that vote whovever they choose.
Those who know me, know that I respect hard working activists. I am not interested in hot air & table thumping. If you are genuine and member led then I will listen to what you have to say. What I know about Andrew is that he works hard for his members he speaks out when there is need and he is committed to working within the Labour party. No organisation can survive if it surrounds itself by 'nodding dogs'. I still remember the 'Emperor's new clothes' fairy tale. Indeed I use it within my work as Branch Secretary with our employers. They need to listen to the Unions, we are their best source of scrutiny. A healthy organisation need debate and discussion over issues.
So I don't subscribe to the view that we have something to fear from extremist parties. That is a policy that should be consigned to the past.
We need to embrace all activists who are genuine, member-led and fighting to support our members day in day out. We have incredible quality across all service groups in London region, we should make better use of that quality and experience.
Our Union along with all Trae Unions have a real challenge in the 21st century to organise to face the potential mass erosion of our members terms and conditions http://www.unison.org.uk/acrobat/B3072.pdf
Our Union has campaigned hard for members we must stand together not snipe.
Whoever wins this election I challenge both of you to demonstrate what support London Labour Link can offer the Fremantle Care Workers campaign?
Andrew has my vote, but what about you?