Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Future of Barnet Council - Star Trek version??

Barnet UNISON members it may seem far fetched but the consultation currently taking place is looking into the future to see where, what and how services will be delivered to Barnet residents. It would be good if we could jump on a space ship and travel to the Future, but we can't.

It is important you get involved, make sure you come along to this series of Barnet UNISON meetings.


Friday, August 08, 2008

The Barnet UNISON Young Members Community

We are currently in the process of establishing a Young Members Community within the Barnet branch of UNISON, open to all members aged 28 or younger. The community will offer our younger members greater support and an opportunity to voice concerns on issues that disproportionately affect them most. This will include the difficulties of debt, youth exploitation, buying a home, stress at work and career progression. We will also be looking at getting involved in various wider campaigns, working with the youth sectors of regional UNISON and the TUC, as well as our local MP. There will be a social element to the community too, as it will provide a great chance for those wanting to get involved to meet people of a similar age across the Barnet local government workforce. One initiative that we are looking at is the chance for our members to go to next years summer festivals for free by part-time volunteering for the Barnet Trades Council behind the bars!

If you are interested in getting involved and are a UNISON member aged 28 or younger, then please come to our first meeting on 26th August at the UNISON office at North London Business Park, Building 4 at 6.30pm. Ask at the reception for us and we will come down to meet you on the evening. Refreshments will be provided!
Send me an email to express your interest in the Barnet Young Members Community to: ben.ritchie@barnetunison.org.uk

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Latest Fremantle care workers strike...

MESSAGE OF SUPPORT - You can add yours!

Congratulations from all of us in York City branch on the solid strike action by your Fremantle Care members to win back their proper terms and conditions. Your continuing campaign is an inspiration to all of us up and down the country working for a better deal for Care workers and against privatisation and low pay. Keep us posted and let us know anything we can do to help. Yours in solidarity,
Ben Drake
Branch Secretary, York City UNISON

"the weather may have been against us but justice was on the side of the pickets and I was proud to stand alongside 100% of the Unison members on shift, all of whom had walked out."
Jon Rogers NEC delegate

“A leading social landlord like Catalyst should be setting an example as one of best employers in London. Sadly that is not the case for their Care Home workers. As a result of the London living wage campaign over 5000 low paid workers are now being treated much better by other leading employers, who have recognised the business case for fair pay and conditions of work in efficient companies.”
Rev Paul Nicolson, Trustee, London Citizens

Our Branch sends solidarity greetings to our sisters and brothers at Freemantle.
Your continuing willingness to struggle is an example to the rest of the union. Your campaign is exactly what the union needs to be concentrating its resources and support on.
A victory for you will be a huge boost for workers nationwide.
"Struggle - Solidarity - Socialism"
Onay Kasab
Branch Secretary

Waltham Forest UNISON sends fraternal greetings and wishes you all the best in your struggle against the penny pinching, profiteering bosses of Freemantle.
We would love to be with you but troubles in our own branch require our attention.
Yours in solidarity
Dave Knight
Branch Secretary

Dear John
On behalf of Hammersmith and Fulham UNISON Local Government, we would like you to extend our best wishes to the Fremantle workers. We wish them the best of luck in their action tomorrow. Our branch will continue to support Barnet and the Fremantle workers fight for a fair and just outcome. Your campaign is vital for us all and highlights the issues workers face from the privatisation of public services.
Best Regards to you all.
Yours in Unity
Noreen Morris
Branch Secretary
UNISON Hammersmith and Fulham

Please can you give solidarity greetings from Hackney Unison to all Fremantle workers who for over 12 months have with stood a barrage of attacks from their management, and have been forced to take strike action to defend themselves.
If there is any further support we can give please contact our branch.
We will be having a Branch Committee on Thursday 14 August 10-00am to 12-30pm at 302 Mare Street Hackney E8 1HA.
We would be happy to invite a speaker and hopefully make a donation towards your strike fund.

Brian Debus
Chair Hackney Unison

I am really sorry but I will be on holiday with my family next week. Please could you pass on a message of solidarity from me to everyone engaged in the dispute.
I will try and get the info around.
Let me know how I can help when I get back.
John McDonnell MP

Congratulations on the re-launch of your campaign and your continuing fight to defend your terms and conditions. You are an inspiration to us all. Sorry I can't be with you on 7 August. Good luck and very best wishes.
Yours in solidarity
Phil O'Reilly
Branch Secretary, Brent Unison

Dear John
On behalf of Hammersmith and Fulham UNISON Local Government, we would like you to extend our best wishes to the Fremantle workers. We wish them the best of luck in their action tomorrow. Our branch will continue to support Barnet and the Fremantle workers fight for a fair and just outcome. Your campaign is vital for us all and highlights the issues workers face from the privatisation of public services.
Best Regards to you all.
Yours in Unity
Noreen Morris
Branch Secretary
UNISON Hammersmith and Fulham

Unfortunately I will be away on the 7th but would really appreciate if you could convey the support and solidarity of our members her in Haringey to the Fremantle workers. Their sustained and determined campaign over the last couple of years has been an inspiration to many low paid workers. We experienced the effects of privatisation in our residential care homes in the mid 1990's and a similarly ruthless employer masquerading as a "not for profit charity" Thankfully our workers have since been taken back in house but we are still having to undo the damage caused by the years in the private sector to peoples wages and conditions
Sean Fox
Branch Secretary Haringey

Greetings and Solidarity to the Fremantle Workers.
I have attended one of your meetings and have been impressed by your determination and strength. Your struggle for decent pay and working conditions is our struggle.You are a shining example of trade union unity in action. An injury to one is an injury to all.
Bahir Laattoe
Barnet Teachers Association, National Union of Teachers

Dear John
Please convey our warmest solidarity to the UNISON members taking part in continuing industrial action against Fremantle on Thursday. Our branch has supported this campaign all along - not just out of pure union solidarity (which is important), but because we know this will be the future for our members working in social care if employers are allowed to get away with it. We have many members working in residential and home care who are currently awaiting the results of various tendering processes and the TUPE transfers that will follow. They are watching the Fremantle dispute very closely and will take on board any lessons learned. Good luck and best wishes in this battle - the overall war against privatisation is far from over.
Comradely yours

Paul Couchman
UNISON (Surrey County)
Branch Secretary

Our branch recognise the huge contribution Fremantle workers have made in raising the profile of low paid privatised workers, and your campaign has been inspirational to thousands of workers in similar positions.
We bring our full support to your strike protest today and pledge our full support to any future days of action that will help you with this essential dispute.
Yours in solidarity
Phoebe Watkins
Convenor Adult Social Care – UNISON
for Camden UNISON

I’ve come today from Tower Hamlets UNISON to offer our continuing support for your struggle.
Fremantle workers continue to be an inspiration to everyone who values workers rights, public services and care for the elderly in particular.
It is a scandal that people like you who provide dedicated care for some of the most vulnerable members of our society face such savage cuts in your living standards,
Keep up the fight
John McLoughlin
Branch Secretary

Fuel bills UP 15 % and rising, Petrol UP 22% and rising, Milk UP 17% and rising, bread UP 9 % and rising, mortgages UP 8 % and rising…….these were the figures UNISON was using in our campaign for fair pay. The day after our successful strike I saw a report on the news predicting Gas bills to leap up to 60% by the end of the Year!

Stop for a moment……our members working for Fremantle had a 30% cut in the terms and conditions, finished off with a 3 year pay freeze! I don’t know how they are managing to cope……the rest of us working in local government know we will be getting at least 2.45%

Our Council is consulting on the future of the Council work force, I know our members are watching with unease as they see former council workers experiencing such horrendous treatment at the hands of a partner of the Council. Many are worried that their service could be next.

So it was good to see the support from our members for what is the beginning of much more substantial strike action across the residential and day care settings in the London Borough of Barnet.

This dispute can end, it just needs Catalyst Housing, Fremantle and Barnet Council to get together and DO THE RIGHT THING…….
John Burgess
Branch Secretary

Monday, August 04, 2008

Fremantle Care workers campaign relaunch...........

It is 16 months since Fremantle stole their terms and conditions 1 April 2007 and almost 2 years since the Fremantle care workers campaign began. The Branch has conducted a high profile campaign (reaching a global audience thanks to the efforts of LabourStart) resulting in a successful march and rally in November and a well attended meeting in the House of Commons in December 2007.

Early in 2008 Fremantle care workers had a meeting for members to discuss the future of the campaign. The message from members was clear …..
“We want back what was stolen!”

The Fremantle Stewards Committee were mandated in the meeting to meet with Fremantle to try and reach a negotiated settlement. Unfortunately Fremantle were very clear, they were not prepared to talk about what was stolen. They believe they have already made enough concessions. (their original proposals were to reduce the hourly rate and increase the working week to 39 hours a week instead of 36 along on top of what they stole from our members last year). In effect everything they gained from Single Status was to be removed at the stroke of a pen!

Firstly, and it can not be understated the sheer loss in income our members have had to endure has proved devastating. Over the last twelve months the numbers of staff working 60 hours a week either for Fremantle or with a second and sometimes a third employer has increased. The introduction by Fremantle of a 56 hour ‘waiver’ is evidence of the scale of the problem. We are understandably concerned about the number of hours staff are working. However we do not know how widespread this practice is which is why we have written to Fremantle, unfortunately we have not had a reply.
"Care Workers working 56+ hours a week is it safe for staff and residents? "

Is it right that care staff should have to work 56 hours or more to earn a living wage in London? Radio Four’s Jon Manel recently reported on care for the Elderly. The government last month launched a consultation on how to fund social care. Whatever is decided surely those who must carry out the direct provision of care to the most vulnerable must be well trained and receive a living wage. It is not politicians, commissioners, service providers (well not until they find themselves in a residential or nursing home) who pay the penalty for undermining the provision of social care it is the service users and carers.

It is not just the loss in pay that accounts for why our members do not want to give up hope. It is the knowledge that if they give up their struggle they know that their Pension forecast will drop permanently. Leaving them with the added worry of how they will cope when they retire. This is something Fremantle have not really understood, instead they take refuge behind mind games with our members, accusing the branch ‘of promoting its own views’.

Such poor analysis of this campaign does note bode well, particularly in the context of future challenges facing Fremantle in Barnet. We know that this contract has led to a dispute with Barnet Council. Last year the claim was £8.672 million as it has not been resolved the claim must surely have gone above £10 million. Only three of the planned five new homes have been built. Whatever is going on behind closed doors what is certain is that the contract will surely be re-negotiated. Will the new contract bring an increase in funding for Fremantle? If not will Fremantle come back to our members for more?

No wonder our members are angry and don’t want to give up. UNISON policy is quite clear, organise to resist privatisation and defend our members against attacks on their terms and conditions. Barnet UNISON stands proudly with our member working for Fremantle and will continue to do so as long as they need our help.
Come along and join the Fremantle Care workers on
Thursday 7 August between 12.30 - 1.30 pm
at the following workplaces:
1. Apthorp
Nurserymans Road, New Southgate, London N11 1EQ

2. Meadowside,
60 Holden Road, North Finchley, Barnet, London N12 7DY

3. Rosa Freedman, 17 Claremont Way, Cricklewood,
London NW2 1AJ

4. Merrivale,90 East Road, Burnt Oak, Edgware, Middx, HA8 0BT

5. Dell Field Court,1 Etchingham Park Road, Finchley,
London N3 2DY