Sunday, January 27, 2008

Social Services feedback.............

Staff working in the Day Care provision at Flower Lane are still waiting for their pay rates to be harmonized. UNISON has been told that this ‘work is in hand’ and we eagerly await managements resolution to this outstanding inequality. We understand that similar issues affect staff working in other day care settings (e.g. Broadfields and supported living) and that this is part of a larger management exercise.
Watch this space!
Mental Health Services......
Possible transfer out of the Council has mentioned in relation all Council staff working in Mental Health Services. The transfer would have been to the BEH-MHT (Barnet Enfield & Haringey Mental Health Trust). Barnet UNISON’s Branch Secretary John Burgess and I, together with the HR manager attended a Q&A session for staff at the Community Network on 24th January to help clarify some issues.

Both the Council and Barnet UNISON strongly recommend that staff working alongside BEH-MHT in multi-disciplinary teams are better to agree the offer of ‘3 year secondment to BEH’ and retain their unbroken service with L.B.Barnet.

Additionally there is an Information Day for Council staff working in Barnet’s Mental Health services on Wed 6th February at NLBP. Make sure that someone from your team /workplace attends to give you all feedback.
Physical and Sensory Impairment.
Daycare Service users mainly attend Flightways Resource centre.
This setting is also joining the Council’s modernization programme
And our members/ staff will be working in different ways to facilitate the service-users access to more mainstream community services.

We need YOU
As always Barnet UNISON needs MORE workplace stewards. Why not you?
Lots of training and support available; regular stewards meetings and other branch officers for specialized issues.
Interested? Then please contact me at the UNISON office.
Finally, Barnet UNISON is planning to resurrect the UNISON Womens’ Group. The vast majority of our membership is female and it is important that our particular issues have a higher profile within the branch. Tracey Lowe and I will be consulting with our female membership soon, even before the next UNISON Voice is published!
Maggi Myland Social Services Convenor

Second chance for Home Care workers.....

Several years ago our Home Care services were privatised to the Housing 21.
Housing 21 is a national housing association. Whilst we would always want key public services to remain in-house we (UNISON) have had a positive relationship with Housing 21.

For almost 6 months Home Care workers have been attending Return2Learn course every Friday morning. Housing 21 have provided an excellent evaluation on the course. Staff are reporting back both to the tutor and their managers the positive impact it is having in terms of their job and outside work.

This work is something any Union would be proud and we are.

We want to see more opportunities for all staff.

If you have not heard about ‘return2learn' course then contact

Ring 0208 359 2088

Housing update....................

Some big changes in Housing ahead with Benefits returning to what is now Resources and Housing Needs and Resources and Housing Policy becoming part of Planning Housing and Regeneration. You should all have been told about these proposals by now, if not please contact your manager.

Why they didn’t do this four years ago when the greater part of Housing was transferred to Barnet Homes I don’t know.

At this time, UNISON still have no details of the proposed restructure of Housing Needs and Resources due to take place later in the year and are waiting for these. As soon as we receive them we will discuss them with you.

As we do in almost all parts of the council, we need more stewards, particularly as, with the rest of Benefits, I will be part of Resources from April and therefore will no longer be the Assistant Branch Secretary for Housing. However this is unlikely to result in any reduction in my union activities as (if elected) I will become the Assistant Branch Secretary for Resources instead, a much larger area. If you are interested in becoming a steward, please contact me or John Burgess the Branch Secretary. You will receive full support and training.
Adam Elkington Assistant Branch Secretary Housing.

Barnet College UNISON team reports...........

Firstly, we would like to welcome to the Steward's Team Kirsty Watson, who joined in the autumn, and is already providing an invaluable contribution as UNISON rep on the new College Learning Committee.

Kirsty says some more about herself below:
"I joined the team in October 2007 and, as the newest member, I have only been working on one case. However, I have joined the Learning Committee as your UNISON representative and I intend to make sure that it delivers equal opportunities for all who wish to participate in a non-threatening environment. The Learning Committee is meeting up again in February, so any Feedback from members who have attended the drop-in sessions would be greatly appreciated.
I am also concerned with the cleanliness of the college in general (having had uninvited mice in the office I work with). The cut backs provide an unsatisfactory working environment.
The final issue that I would like to see resolved in the near future is lack of supply of drinking water. It is, after all, a Legal Requirement that fresh drinking water is supplied to employees and this requirement is not being met at present."

The key Health and Safety issues that Kirsty has highlighted above will be pursued vigorously by your UNISON reps in joint consultation with our UCU colleagues- there are clearly health and safety issues that affect other college sites apart from the Business Park.

Three other key issues that your Union is currently pursuing (again, jointly with UCU and the other teaching unions) are:

- the cost of living pay increase, now long-overdue

- the future of Collective Agreements in the light of the new Academic Management Spine contracts that UCU members were required to sign last summer. This has implications for all of us, and should be of general concern

- feedback on the results of the recent staff survey (conducted as part of the valuing staff initiative by the College). We hope that you all returned your forms!

The Barnet College Stewards Team

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Individualised Budgets...........update

For years disabled people have fought for and won huge changes in our expectations as to how people with disabilities should be seen and treated. Discrimination is still a prominent feature in our society but the way provisions are discussed have meant we are now more familiar with notions of empowerment and with disabled people having more direct control over how their care or assistance to play an active and independent part in society should be delivered. Towards the end of the nineties Direct Payments were introduced which meant that people could get cash from the Council and employ someone of their choosing to assist them with their activities of daily living. This was viewed positively by movements representing disabled people.

The same cannot be said entirely of Individualised Budgets. There is a feeling that whereas the move to Direct Payments was driven by the Disabled Movement, the move to Individualised Budgets is being driven by the Government. Voices of caution wanting to wait for the full evaluation of the pilot schemes are being ignored as the Government has given the green light for wholesale implementation of the scheme irrespective of the evaluations.

LB Barnet is moving to wholesale provision of care/ assistance through Individualised Budgets now. Through this scheme it is hoping to increase independence, choice and wellbeing for disabled people and save money. No one can be against increasing independence, choice and wellbeing and schemes which seek to develop and promote this should be supported. Barnet UNISON is heavily involved in the discussions and negotiations around the implementation of Individualised Budgets for this reason and because such a radical change will impact massively on the way we work within the council. We have already organised one successful public meeting and we intend to organise more. There will also be workplace based meetings with groups of workers affected.

From Adult Social Services Barnet UNISON has a team of people who will be playing a leading role in the negotiations for our members. The team consists of:
Maggi Myland
Peter Wright
Helen Davies
Liz Thomasson
Maggi Guy

These people welcome your thoughts and ideas relating to what you hear about how Individualised Budgets is being implemented/ proposed in your workplace. What will its effects be on workers and service users? We want to contribute to make sure everyone ends up a winner!

Helen Davies

Branch Chair

UNISON Barnet College rep

Hello I am Eileen Hagger-Street and I am a Librarian. I know. Shocking, isn’t it? How did I get into this mess? Let me tell you.

I was drawn into it as a child. Right next door to my school was a place where pretty coloured picture books and exciting, magical stories were displayed on low shelves, with comfy chairs near by so a small child could browse these goodies in undisturbed peace. Not only that! They could take the books home! For no charge! Free, gratis and for nothing. And it was open Saturdays too, so I started sneaking in there even when not at school. My parents did nothing to stop this depraved behaviour, other than wonder if I might go blind with all the reading…

Is it any wonder that with such an appalling beginning I should end up as a Senior Learning Resource Advisor in Barnet College, and still hopelessly addicted to books and reading for the joy of it? Who can help me break the habit and become a good citizen of the Wonderful World of New Technology, with a First Class Silver Surfer Award? Well, I’m glad [or is it galled?] to say that I have taken the pledge to do my H&S training online, so I am obliged to to follow threads, chatlines, blogs and other Internet stuff to become a good H&S rep. Wish me luck. I shall be glad to hear from other reading addicts who need support.
Eileen Hagger-Street
Barnet College

Barnet ALMO tries to remove Essential Car User Lump Sum.

"At the end of 2006/beginning of 2007 I sent out a questionnaire to all members regarding the intention to remove Essential Car User status.

56 members returned the questionnaire,
44 of which were Essential Car Users.
25 of these stated that they had to transport equipment to fulfil their duties.
30 of these said they travelled every working day.

Many were worried about paying their business insurance. 21 members said that they would no longer be prepared to drive their cars during working hours. There were also people who used their cars as an office after site visits. I fed these results back through the correct channels and HR then reviewed the situation. I was quite confident that only new recruits or those changing their jobs would now be affected. However the removal of the Lump Sum has come back to haunt us; with HR planning to remove the status that was initially part of your terms and conditions. I have been promised that meetings will be held with staff to discuss this issue. It is now for you to verbalise the strong comments that you expressed on my questionnaire form. "

Anne Denison
Assistant Branch Secretary Barnet Homes

UNISON National Officer for Schools Guest speaker for our AGM

Schools Staff Book Your Seat Now!

We have Christine McAnea National Officer Education speaking about the proposed National Agreement for Schools staff. You will be balloted on the proposals which will have significant changes for your terms and conditions. Come along to hear first hand what UNISON is saying in negotiations with Government.
AGM 6 MARCH 2008
3.30 PM

Call office 0208 359 2088 to book your seat

The 3 R’s

Restructure, Redeployment, Redundancy

It is sad but true that all Council staff will face the 3 R’s at least once in any 18 month period! It is therefore important that staff know how to prepare and survive.

(Please note Barnet UNISON don’t always know where and when staff are facing restructures. So make sure you contact the Barnet UNISON office).

Step 1
Firstly, make sure you are a member of UNISON. Don’t wait until you are facing possible redundancy before realising you need help.

Step 2
If you hear that your team or service is going to be restructured, don’t panic. Ask your manager if the rumours are true, if you don’t want to do this then contact your local UNISON rep. If you don’t have a local rep then contact the UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 and we will check out the rumour on your behalf.

Step 3
Managing Change is the Council policy dealing with restructures/redeployment, redundancy. There is a copy on the Council’s intranet. It is worth making sure you have access to a copy. If there is a restructure in your team, a number of things should take place. You should be consulted. If you are not being involved and you have raised it with your manager, please contact UNISON office as soon as possible.

Step 4
Consultation: Draft proposals clearly showing the existing and proposed new structure should being presented. Any changes to your job description should be made in consultation with you. At this stage make sure you let the UNISON office know that consultation has begun.

Step 5
In most restructures posts are generally deleted, jobs changed and more often than not staff have to be interviewed for the new jobs.

The Council provide interview skills training to help staff prepare for interviews, make sure you take up this training.

Restructures can be very stressful to staff facing an uncertain future. The Council acknowledges this and now provides staff with access to free and confidential counselling through an independent organisation ‘People at Work.’ UNISON strongly recommends this service to members.

Remember you don’t have to face these changes alone.

Council Budget 2008/9

Every year Council workers face the prospect of redundancy. Blair has gone but Gordon Brown does not bring the change some people felt would be delivered. The message from his Cabinet is 2% to be strictly enforced across the public sector. Even the police are demonstrating about the pay!

What is clear is that no one can take anything for granted. Our message to staff is make sure you take any opportunities for training and development. If you are not getting any opportunities then speak to your line manager. If that doesn’t work then contact the UNISON office. Our Life Long Learning Coordinators are very keen to meet staff to talk about training opportunities. UNISON in partnership with the Council is its second year of training courses BUT we want to run more.

For more details about courses contact
or or ring Barnet UNISON on 0208 359 2088

In the case of this years Budget the number of posts being deleted is running at 90 but with vacant posts we are down to approximately 40 staff facing the prospect of redundancy.

A schedule of courses listing dates has been circulated for staff facing redundancy:
1:1 skills set interview with someone from HR
Interview skills training
Preparing your cv
Careers counselling

If you are facing an interview for a job, please take up the offers of these courses.

All staff facing redundancy should be provided a regular update on vacancies within the council. No posts should be advertised outside until redeployees are given first priority to apply.

Consultation meetings are taking place across the areas affected. If you have not had a consultation meeting please contact the UNISON office immediately

Another AVMEG success...........

It is a new year and most of us are either setting new resolutions for the year or wondering how we got to where we are at. Most of us get caught up in our surrounding and drift into a routine. AVMEG pulled together an interesting cast of speakers to challenge those ideas at the event held on the 24th January 08.

The event, held in the stylish new conference facility in North London Business Park’s Building 2 and was open to all staff who wanted to access the information.
The speakers at the event were

Sola Dawkins who is a Mentor, Motivational and Inspirational Speaker, Events organiser, talked about ‘Empowering women in the Workplace’ and making anything happen when you set your mind to it.

TD McKenzie who owns and runs a training firm, which specialises in cutting edge strategies for personal and organisational change, treated the audience to some interesting steps that they can take in goal setting and achieving their dreams. Tony is also an author of some interesting books one of which is called You Were Born Invincible’. As an added bonus to those who attended the forum they were given a 6 month free membership to Tony’s Intention Generator T Mind Conditioning System, to help people make those necessary changes and take the 1st step to change.

Tahir Saleem Khan was next in line, speaking about Leadership and the need to take those first steps. Tahir who is currently serving on the board of directors of Asians Network Ltd, runs a new media company in the UK has been consulting on self–management and development strategies across industry and academia.

Rahul Patel was the last speaker, he is the Branch Secretary, Westminster UNISON and has seen his fair share on instructional racism. His work enables him to empower and give staff a voice in the Council. He gave the audience some interesting examples of things that they can do by looking at Councils Workforce profiles and the power of collective action.

AVMEG will have an interesting year a head to assist staff in realising their inner potential. They are hoping to expand their membership over the following months and will be running a range of learning initiatives for its members, namely:
voluntary work-based learning programmes
coaching programmes
action learning.

All these programmes are designed to assist staff develop and improve their work-related skills to advance their careers.

However in order for AVMEG to continue in 2008, they are looking for new members to take on roles in the committee to bring fresh ideas and continue to assist staff progress and improve and be apart of the change process in Barnet Council.

To find out more about these projects and what else AVMEG has planned, e-mail
AVMEG membership is open to employees of Barnet Council and its service providers, who define themselves as black or those who are of African, Caribbean or Asian origin.

Wellbeing breaks what are they?

UNISON well being breaks can provide welcome relief from the stresses of daily life and the space and time to reflect away from difficult or depressing circumstances. UNISON can help with all or part of the costs of a break depending on your financial situation.
The wellbeing breaks include:
family holidays and outings
get well breaks
breaks in other special circumstances e.g. for carers and following bereavement

The breaks are delivered in partnership with the Family Holiday Association, a national charity that specialises in providing holidays for families in need. For example, they can arrange a stay in self-catering accommodation in a chalet or caravan at selected UK holiday centres.

UNISON’s award winning Croyde Bay holiday village in Devon is a popular destination with members. Alternatively, you can organise accommodation of your own choosing in the UK.
Family holidays

UNISON can provide a holiday for members and their families who are experiencing difficult circumstances and who have not had a holiday for at least four years.
Although the holidays are normally for one week we recognise that family circumstances sometimes mean a shorter break of three or four nights is preferred. We can also help with day trips or leisure outings.

Get well breaks
Get well breaks are designed to support any members, who are recovering from illness (including stress), accident or an operation and who are not in need of nursing care. Get well breaks can include children, or other dependants. We recognise that ill health can sometimes impact on the whole family and that there will be occasions when it will be beneficial for the person who is ill and the whole family to get away together. The service is flexible depending on your needs with a choice of accommodation such as hotels and guest houses or traditional convalescent facilities and shorter breaks.

Other special circumstances
UNISON can also provide respite breaks for carers with day to day responsibility for a disabled dependant breaks following bereavement of a partner or dependant child. for those with a terminal illness.

For more information, including an application form and guidance notes, visit the UNISON website at, e mail telephone UNISON Welfare’s general enquiry line on 020 7551 1620, or contact the branch office and ask for one of the joint Welfare Officers.

Barnet Schools UPDATE....................

The New Year has got off with a bang. After two years of battling, finally we have a new job description for nursery nurses. Hooray? Alas no! The new J.D. causes us real concern. The two major issues are, it offers no career progression and is going over to term time only contracts. This is totally unacceptable and an erosion of your terms and conditions. As a result we are running an indicative strike ballot against the new role. So watch this space! We have a huge battle on our hands.

Quite a lot has come in, in terms of casework. Support staff really do bear the brunt of everything, from budgets to behaviour. For your records, even if you are taught how to restrain children safely, the advice from your union UNISON is DON’T. Try every other method, make sure the other children are safe and pass the situation up to your line manager or above to deal with. DO NOT run the risk of harming the child you are meant to be dealing with by restraining them. DO NOT run the risk of another child being hurt as a result of the restraining process. DO NOT run the risk of being hurt yourself. If necessary evacuate the area and pass the issue on. UNISON is really pushing forward with health and safety issues with the Borough for its members.

There are still lots of support staff who are expected to work outside of their job description and not paid fairly for it. Worse still we have discovered yet another school whose support staff are working without job descriptions and on the old pay scales. We are doing a lot of behind the scenes work on this one. Though we approach these on a case by case issue, with the advent of the new negotiation forum for schools (as fought for by Christine McAnea Head of Education in UNISON) we expect this to become a rare occurrence as everyone will enjoy national terms and conditions.
Its not just TAs and nursery nurses needing our support this term, quite a few premises management / caretaking staff are needing our expertise. We have overturned a potential sacking and reached a compromise agreement for another. Two excellent results for those concerned and a lot of sweat and hard work on our part
If you have a concern and want to speak to someone about it. Please contact one of our Assistant Branch Secretaries for Schools
or ring the Barnet UNISON Office on 0208 359 2088

Barnet UNISON building alliances across North London

London calling………………

Earlier this week I attended a meeting in north London to listen to the achievements of an organisation called London CITIZENS. It is an inspirational story which gives hope to those of us who remain optimistic in spite of the daunting and relentless attacks facing our society from globalisation. I think it is great we can correspond and report from any part of this planet, but the recent events in the United States and the impact on world markets and ultimately on all of us is frightening.

Now more than at any time we need to organise and that means broad alliances with those of us who share common issues. London CITIZENS is such an organisation. Listening to some of the speakers explain how coomunity groups/charities/religious groups from across all denominations find common ground was truely exciting. I am glad to see that UNISON has been part of their work in East/South and West London. Now it is the turn for North London. The meeting I attended was to look at how we could organise a North London branch.

For more details on London CITIZENS and the work they do go to their website at

Even better watch their short DVD explaining

(N.B. You may need to watch this on your home computer as your work PC may no allow access to You Tube).

Barnet UNISON members please take note we have two guest speakers

Catherine Howarth – Lead Organiser West London CITIZENS and Rev Paul Nicholson coming to our AGM

Thursday 6 March 2008

3.30 pm

Building 2,

North London Business Park

We are going to vote on whether we should affiliate to London CITIZENS

come along and listen to what they are doing across London.