Monday, April 28, 2008

HOT OF THE PRESS – Barnet Council Staff

Big Changes ahead….Your future……..Break up or Shake up?
We first raised this issue in one of our newsletters early this year. On Tuesday 6 May the following report is going before the Council’s Cabinet Committee

Do not be mistaken this is a very real issue for everyone working for the Council. The report outlines the breadth of the research & consultation which needs to take place before a recommendation is brought back to future Cabinet Committee.

If we have learnt anything it is that everyone needs to become involved in the consultation process which will roll out across the Council in the next few months. UNISON will provide updates on our involvement in the consultation process, but YOU need to alert UNISON to any discussions within your workplace. All of you have a the skills, expertise & knowledge which we value, after all it is YOUR hard work which delivered Four Star status for the Council earlier this year!

We have had very positive assurances from the Council that they want to genuinely consult with UNISON. We have already had one meeting with the Executive Director Nick Walkley and we are due to meet with the Chief Executive the day after the Cabinet Committee.

However, it is important not to be complacent. Sadly we have had some bad experiences when previous Council decisions have resulted in UNISON members being ‘transferred’ out of the Council control. There have been a number of recent examples of privatisation; the one which Barnet UNISON members will be most familiar is Fremantle. But that isn’t the only example we have seen. This is why we want to make sure UNISON is involved in the consultation process and is in a position to scrutinise the recommendations which will be made to a future Cabinet committee.

As Branch Secretary I will make this my number one priority and will endeavour to make regular reports to all our members working for the Council. It is highly likely we will need to set up branch meetings to give members opportunities to put questions or raise issues. In the meanwhile if you have any concerns about the process or have any questions about what it all means you can email

Finally I would like to extend an invitation to join me at the Cabinet Committee meeting on Tuesday 6 May 2008, at 7 pm in Barnet House, Whetstone.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Individualised Budgets in Barnet

Dear Colleagues,

Everyone working in Adult Social Services (ASS) will have heard of Individualised Budgets, and the Choice Agenda.

But how many of you are clear about what it will mean for you, our service users and their carers?

Barnet UNISON early last year recognised that massive change was coming, which is why we established early contact with the Director of Adult Social Services and her senior management team.

Just before Christmas 2007, UNISON sponsored a successful Public meeting with a number of speakers. It was clear from discussions at that meeting that delivering the Choice agenda is going to be challenging for staff, service users, carers, service providers, and the Council.

ASS appointed Project Manager (Ed Gowan) was charged with the task of delivering the Choice Agenda. A number of managers from the Care groups have taken on roles of ‘Service Champions’ to look at issues and processes. Regular communication on progress has been cascaded across Adult Social Services.

UNISON has responded by identifying UNISON champions for each Care group; Helen Davies (Older Adults), Peter Wright (Sensory impairment/Physical disabilities) Maggie Guy ( Back office), Liz Thomasson (Learning Difficulties), Tom Mahoney (Mental Health), and Maggi Myland (Social Services Convenor).

Two meetings with Service Champions and UNISON have taken place with more to follow. UNISON recognised that the level of engagement with our members needs to increase. Helen Davies will be the Lead UNISON rep. for Choice Agenda. We are in the process of negotiating some release time for Helen, in the interim you can contact Helen at or

Clearly there will be significant changes if the Choice Agenda is to be successful. UNISON will be looking to set up UNISON meetings across Adult Social Services. It is important that all staff take an active part in this consultation. You have the expertise and the local knowledge, without you the change process will not work.

All change can bring uncertainty, fear, stress and confusion; however it can also bring more creative and better ways of working and delivering services. This is why we need to be talking to all our members across ASS.

Everyone working in ASS wants to deliver better services for service users and carers. UNISON supports increasing choice and independence for service users. We want to take an active role to ensure the structure is able to deliver.

One thing for certain these changes are going to affect the way you work, the services available to service users, your grade, you future career development.

We are circulating this short letter to all of our members. Over the next four weeks we will be looking to set up meetings with UNISON members across Barnet.

But don’t wait…. .......... if you have any ideas, suggestions or questions…… Helen at or

Yours sincerely

John Burgess
Branch Secretary


Retail Price Index versus Consumer Price Index

Retail Price Index
The National Statistics website
“The Retail Prices Index (RPI) is the most familiar general purpose domestic measure of inflation in the United Kingdom. It is available continuously from June 1947. The Government uses it for uprating of pensions, benefits and index-linked gilts. It is commonly used in private contracts for uprating of maintenance payments and housing rents. It is also used for wage bargaining”

Consumer Price Index
"The Consumer Prices (CPI) and the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) are the same index. The index has been designed as a macro-economic measure of consumer price inflation. It forms the basis for the Government's inflation target which the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee is required to achieve."

Clear as mud?
Put it simply the RPI is the more accurate measure of the cost of living pressures on households. The Government like to use CPI because it makes their Pay Policy look like it is in line with prices……………

Just how thick do they think we are?

Well it seems we are prepared to believe anything……apparently Public Sector workers are responsible for rises in inflation! (WHAT RUBBISH !) This is why the Government believes all Public Sector workers should be happy with 2% Pay Awards, year after year after year after year!

Funny that………… problem finding

£100 Billion to bail out Northern Rock……
£50 Billion to bail out major banks in the city …
£XXX Billion on the war in Iraq & Afghanstan

Or, hitting the low income households with the 10 pence Tax rate

Well, Public Sector workers can have a say…….our branch is carrying out a consultative ballot. If you haven’t had your ballot paper yet, contact the UNISON office on 0208 359 2088/2083 or email

Use your vote

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Barnet College - Redundancy talks.................

Once again our local reps are having to attend redundancy talks again with Barnet College. FE funding is clearly under attack as a result of Train to Gain.
Joint Trade Union meetings have been taking place and further consutlation meetings are due to take place over the next 6 weeks. More detailed reports will be going out to members under threat. We understand that up to 24 posts are at risk.

Fremantle Convenor says Farewell

We want to take this opportunity to give praise to Carmel Reynolds ex Fremantle Convenor.
I have known Carmel for over 11 years. In 2005 when we were looking for a replacement for the previous Fremantle Convenor Barbara Kirkbride, Carmel volunteered to give it a go. Carmel had no Trade Union experience, little did she know what challenges she would face. Everyone in our branch, everyone in our region and everyone in our Union nationally agree that Carmel has been an inspiration to us all.

Last Friday we said our goodbyes to Carmel but for the final word, we are going to print an email Carmel sent to the Fremantle Chief Executive Carole Sawyers earlier this week which sums up Carmel and what our campaign is all about

“Dear Carol,

I'm sure you thought you had heard the last of me but I need to say a few things re the staff I left behind. Now that I have the time to reflect on the past 23 years I have to say that I have worked with some amazing people. People who have committed themselves to caring for older people, a not so glamorous task in itself but hugely rewarding. Now that young people have so much choice career wise it amazes me that some will want to come into care work and stay in it.

I and my colleagues stayed for all the right reasons, it offered security, decent standard of living, good training, good prospects, and the T&C we had reflected the respect our employers had for us as carers. When we lost these T&C we lost not only money, holidays etc, but also the feeling that we were worth investing in. Losing self esteem in our employment was soul shattering. I am probably not explaining myself very well but my colleagues and I always felt that none of this ever mattered to Fremantle, we felt we were been used and abused. I know these are strong words but our loss was devastating.

Carol some of your staff who suffered so much financial loss had bailiffs knocking on their door over the xmas period, spent so much of that holiday working instead of spending time with their families. These same staff always gave so much extra of themselves without question to the residents, things like coming in on rest day to take them to hospital, or changing day off to attend review, even popping into the hospital in their own time to visit a resident etc. I could go on. The point I am trying to make is that Caring is based on so much good will, staff will put in the time and effort but will the Employer.

Carol you do have some wonderful staff who will stay and help build Fremantle’s reputation if you treat them well, respect them and don’t force them into working so many hours that they cannot be good carers. Make them feel valued, not second rate employees.

I wish you and Fremantle Trust success, and I wish all my ex colleagues a good and loyal Employer.
Carmel Reynolds.

Fremantle Care Workers - update April 2008

We have deliberately not been updating our branch on this issue pending talks with Fremantle and Catalyst Housing.

On Monday 14 April we met with representatives from both organisations. Whilst there are clear differences as to what both parties would like to resolve this long running campaign (it is now 380 days since the Terms and Conditions were taken away) it was useful having all parties sitting round the table.
We have subsequently written to Fremantle asking for clarification on a number of points before we begin our consultation of our members.

More news later..................

Barnet Homes 'On yer bike!'

Our Assistant Branch Secretary Anne Denison has been doing a tremendous job over the last 12 months, now she is facing the challenge of running a campaign to defend members terms and conditions.
The ALMO are looking to take away essential car users allowance. These staff are required to have a car and need it to provide services to some of the most vulnerable residents in our community. We are carrying out a consultative ballot, Anne has organised a number of meetings to meet with members. In the interim Anne has written to the Employer asking them to drop the proposal. Details of her negotiations and the ballot will be posted at a later date.

What this clearly indicates is the dangers of services moving away from Council control.

Promises that staff will be protected by tupe means nothing. It is important that to protect your terms and conditions you need high union density. It is important that when the ‘conversation begins on the future shape of the council that ALL staff make sure they take part. UNISON will be providing advice as the consultation unfolds.

London Citizens Mayoral candidates meeting

Awesome, incredible, inspirational………..I am still buzzing after the meeting over over 2,500 people packed into Westminster Central Hall. Barnet UNISON members agreed that the branch affiliate to this organisation.

The potential for organising across communities is fantastic already they have taken on the City Financial Institutions, Tate Modern, Olympics Committee, Ken Livingstone, White City devleopers..............

The cultural diversity was incredible, old and young all feeling part of something that is making a difference to people's lives. At a time when it seems that 'apathy' is threatening our democracy, it was fantastic to see so many people who felt they could and will make a difference.

But now the challenge is out these for UNISON members and their friends and families.

Do you belong to a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, community group, School, University?

If you do then speak to the leaders of your group/community, come along to the next North London Citizens meeting in June ( deatils to be posted later)

Barnet UNISON are now members of a steering group looking at setting up a north London Citizens. For more details of the meeting go to

Now is the time to get involved and make a difference to our communities

Trades Union Council - Launch on 22 April 2008

This is a good opportunity for members to come along and listen to other Trade unions talk about joint action in support for pay claims. NUT/PCS & UCU

College Union UCU
Teaching Union NUT
Public Sector Union (PCS)
All three Trade Unions will be taking Industrial Action on 24 April 2008.
Hear what can be acheived when Trade Unions work together

Make sure you come along

Keep the BNP out of Barnet and London

The BNP are putting a candidate up in Hale Ward for a local Council election. This is the first time for a long time. The boroughs demographics are changing along with other London boroughs. This is something which we want to celebate and enjoy. London is a fantastic city. We do not need to see the 'Politics of Hate in Barnet or London.'

It is important that we organise to keep the BNP out of Barnet and also out of the GLA elections.
There is going to be a leafleting campaign on 26 April 2008, more details will be posted later. Come along to the Barnet Trades Council on Tuesday 22 April 2008, 7 pm Hendon Town Hall to hear a Speaker from Hope not Hate campaign.

Service Group Elections (SGE)

It is important that ALL member stake part in the democratic process of elections. In this case the SGE elections. Your ballot papers should start dropping through your doors now. Mosr members do not know who the candidates are, which explains why the ‘turnout is often low. Our branch believes it is important that elected UNISON representatives should be accountable. Taking seats on these UNISON national bodies is not an excuse for getting away from work. They are important issues at stake such as Pay, Privatisation to name a few. This is why our branch has decided to make sure if we need any support for these representatives we keep a record of whether they have responded to any branch requests for support.

Our branch executive agreed to nominate

Dave Eggmore and Sonya Howard.

Make sure you use you vote

Barnet UNISON Consultative Pay Ballot

We have had an offer of 2.45%.

Our National Negotiators have asked all branches to carry out a consultative ballot and report back by 7 May 2008.
We are sending ballot papers to all members home addresses. If you have not received your ballot paper by Tuesday 23 April please contact the UNISON office on 0208 359 2088/2083 or email

Please note this is a Consultative ballot not an industrial action ballot. Our negotiators need to know what you think of the offer and what you are prepared to do if you want an improvement.