End the outsourcing of cleaning at TfL – Take action today

As part of the Justice for Cleaners campaign, RMT is fighting to end the outsourcing of cleaning work on London’s Underground and Overground rail networks.

As part of work to develop his Manifesto for re-election as London Mayor, Sadiq Khan has launched a policy consultation which is open to all for responses.

RMT is asking members in London to respond to this consultation by sending a model form of words calling on Sadiq Khan to end the outsourcing of cleaning work and bringing these cleaners into Transport for London.

The consultation closes on 31 January. Please help us build our campaign by responding to the consultation today here, using our suggested text: http://bit.ly/35TmatQ

Barnet Tories reject call for care workers to be paid London’s Living Wage

  • Council fails to produce agreed feasibility report on cost of LLW
  • Tory Council Leader describes care workers and trade unionists as “a Labour mob”

Barnet’s Conservative councillors have rejected a Labour Group motion for former Fremantle care workers to be paid at least the London’s Living Wage of £10.75 an hour – the level of pay identified as the minimum needed to cover the cost of essentials when living in London.

Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings, put forward the motion at last night’s Policy & Resources Committee (6 Jan) after the Conservative Council failed to produce a feasibility study setting out the cost of paying the care workers London’s Living Wage. There was cross-party agreement at the last committee (3 Oct) to bring the feasibility study to last night’s meeting.

Care workers attending the Policy & Resources meeting yesterday reacted with dismay to Council claims that they couldn’t produce the report because it was too complicated to calculate the cost in the last 3 months. Conservative Leader of the Council, Dan Thomas responded by branding them “a Labour mob”.

The care workers were transferred to The Barnet Group (TBG) – a wholly owned subsidiary of Barnet Council – under TUPE rules after the Fremantle Trust handed over the running of its three Barnet care homes to TBG in April last year.

Since then, the care workers, their trade union – Barnet Unison – and Labour councillors have been campaigning for them to be paid at least London’s Living Wage, which is the policy of The Barnet Group. All other Barnet Group staff are paid at least London’s Living Wage, including other care workers already employed by them.

Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Barry Rawlings said: “It is the moral duty of the Council to ensure that all its staff – including those working in The Barnet Group and in contracted-out services – are paid at least the minimum to be able to cover the basic essentials of living in London.

“It is the Council’s policy to pay directly employed staff at least London’s Living Wage and it is also The Barnet Group’s policy, so they really need to find the funding to do this straight away.

“We cannot condone the Council and The Barnet Group paying poverty wages; and there cannot be a two-tiered workforce where those doing work of equivalent value are on unequal pay.

“It was shameful that the Conservatives refused to support paying London’s Living Wage to those who do some of the most sensitive work to support our most vulnerable residents.

“The Council have said they will come up with the feasibility figures at some point in the future, but will probably do nothing until July. My concern is that they will wait until the protected TUPE period is over and then seek to outsource the care workers again.

“The Labour Group will oppose any further outsourcing of care workers, and continue to press the case for all directly employed and contracted out staff to be paid at least London’s Living Wage.”

Unite the Union: London facing standstill as exhausted bus drivers prepare for strike action

Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, is warning that London could face gridlock if exhausted bus drivers take industrial action later this year.

Unite will begin a consultative ballot of over 20,000 members employed as London bus drivers later this month and, provided a yes vote is secured, a full industrial action ballot will then follow.

Decisive action

Unite is demanding that London bus operators and Transport for London (TfL) take decisive action to tackle chronic levels of fatigue being experienced by bus drivers.

Unite is sharply critical of individual bus operators who have suggested that the solution is simply about ensuring drivers get more sleep.

Driving revolution

Unite is instead demanding a revolution in how bus driving is scheduled to ensure that drivers can finish on time, are able to utilise all of their breaks, work to proper schedules, have enough running time to complete their journey, are treated with respect and receive proper training.

A survey by Loughborough University which was commissioned by TfL, and published last August, discovered that 21 per cent of bus drivers had to ‘fight sleepiness’ at least two or three times a week and 17 per cent had actually fallen asleep at the wheel at least once in the past year.

Loughborough report 

Since the publication of the Loughborough report, TfL has attempted to deflect responsibility for the fatigue being suffered by bus drivers and has said that it is the responsibility of individual bus operators to resolve the situation. Unite believes this position is entirely unacceptable.

A survey of over 5,000 Unite bus driver members in September found 44 per cent of bus drivers work six days a week and long hours created severe physical, mental and relationship problems. A total of 79 per cent of drivers reported that in the past year they had made errors while driving due to tiredness.

Drivers had enough

Unite regional officer John Murphy said: “London bus drivers have had enough; they are permanently fatigued and at risk of being a danger to other road users, bus passengers and themselves.

“Unite will shortly be conducting a consultative ballot and provided our members endorse industrial action, strikes will follow later this year unless action is taken to ensure that the problems causing chronic fatigue for our members are resolved.

“TfL cannot simply sweep this problem under the carpet. It must act decisively and stop trying to pass the problem onto bus operators who have consistently failed to resolve the issue and have instead allowed it to worsen.

“For the last 25 years bus operators have been failing to deal with this problem. Unite members are saying enough is enough.”

Solidarity with Barnet Care Workers: LIving Wage Now

Over the past decade one thing Barnet UNISON is in agreement with Barnet Council is that the London Living Wage is the lowest rate of pay for its staff and those working on outsourced contracts.

Within the Barnet Group the minimum rate of pay for staff in Barnet Homes, TBG Flex (The Barnet Group Flex) and Your Choice Barnet is the London Living Wage – including posts which become vacant within the ex-Fremantle homes.

After a settling in period for the TUPE Fremantle staff Barnet UNISON raised in discussions with the employer the issue of paying these staff the London Living Wage as the lowest level of pay. We believe these staff should be treated no differently to other staff working for Barnet Council or on its outsourced contracts.

Barnet UNISON notes the decision regarding a discussion about implementing the London Living Wage for Fremantle TUPE transferred staff to Your Choice Barnet at the Policy and Resources Committee 3rd October 2019 is recorded in the draft minutes as:

“Following discussion on the London Living Wage for Fremantle staff who had been TUPE transferred to Your Choice Barnet the Chairman agreed to an item on the feasibility being brought back to the next Committee. This would be included in the Business Planning report”

In response to this request from Councillors the Business Planning Report dedicates a mere 2 paragraphs which is listed under “Risks to the MTFS”

  • Fremantle Care workers (London Living Wage): Former Fremantle staff were TUPE transferred to YCB in July 2018 under the agreement that terms and conditions would be protected for 1 year.  Some former Fremantle care workers that have been transferred to the Barnet Group may be being paid less than the London Living Wage (£10.75 per hour (as at Nov 2019)). The Barnet Group policy is to pay all its workers at least the London Living Wage, subject to affordability, and a HR process is now required to review any changes to terms and conditions which will need to be considered.

Any decision about changes to terms and conditions will need to be considered in the context of the overall pay and reward strategy for the Barnet Group, employment policies and legislation, the wider social care market and the council’s procurement rules.   It is not yet possible to quantify the level of risk associated as it is too early to form a conclusion about the application of the LLW to TUPE staff. However, officers in the Barnet Group supported by council colleagues where necessary will be working on this over the coming months and can provide further update to the committee in the future.

These two paragraphs responding to the Committee’s request in no way reflects the response Barnet UNISON or the care workers were expecting. We had expected a detailed report detailing the cost implications for implementing the London Living Wage. Instead this response kicks the question into the long grass.

This is absurd as all new vacancies in the ex-Fremantle homes are advertised as paying the London Living Wage as a minimum. These posts are open to existing Fremantle staff to apply for those posts. This means that incrementally at least some of these staff working in these homes will be all be employed on the London Living Wage. This fact is not even listed in the 2 paragraphs written by the officers. This means this risk is already a reality and yet it is not mentioned or evaluated. No turnover rates are mentioned. Is it ironic that a credible option for the ex-Fremantle staff to en masse resign from their posts and then to reapply for posts in the new homes which would have to be offered at the London Living Wage?

The report in no way reflects the request made of the Committee to the officers. A “feasibility” was requested not the “risks”. Furthermore the Councillors are asked to believe that the officers are incapable of quantifying the “level of risk” associated with “the application of the LLW to TUPE staff.”

Barnet UNISON can be of assistance to the officers and councillors in understanding some of the implications by revealing the inaccuracy of the sentence: “Some former Fremantle care workers […] may be being paid less than the London Living Wage”. (Our italics)

TUPE information from Fremantle in May/ June 2019 revealed that just under 300 staff were TUPE transferred. Of these, according to the figures given for the job titles and the rates of pay quoted for those job titles, some two thirds were listed as being paid below the London Living Wage. In total these were 222 staff. The largest group are the care workers which total some 143 workers and are nearly half of the ex-Fremantle workforce.

Care work is a physically demanding role as well as an emotionally demanding role. Yet according to the TUPE transfer information 161 members of staff are aged 55 years and over and of these 40 are aged 66 years and over. By contrast the numbers of staff aged under 40 years are 76.

RISK

There is a risk in not paying the London Living Wage as this report demonstrates:

https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/adult-social-care-workforce-data/Workforce-intelligence/documents/State-of-the-adult-social-care-sector/State-of-Report-2019.pdf

In the Care industry there is a national turnover rate of 38% for those working less than one year in the field (p.13). It shows that those who are paid more are less likely to leave their roles.

“Turnover at regulated services that were rated overall as either ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’, turnover was found to be lower (29.5%) than those rated as ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ (32.2%). This trend remained consistent across each Key Line of Enquiry (KLOE) with an average difference of 2.7%. The largest difference in turnover was shown for the ‘Safe’ KLOE which had 3.4% lower turnover at providers rated positively.” (p.118)

Continuity is an important factor in delivering quality care and support to our most vulnerable residents. There are associated costs in constantly recruiting and inducting new members of staff. These can result in reputational and safeguarding costs.

Barnet UNISON strives to work with both the Council and quasi outsourced employers, such as the Barnet Group, in continuing to promote harmonious industrial relations and to provide a high level of service for our customers. This may, potentially, be put in jeopardy if the decision is not to value monetarily the important role that care workers perform.

These factors should be of importance to this Committee and to Councillors in general and should be taken more seriously than the response to the request from Council officer’s shows.

Protest tomorrow over threat to ban transport strike action

RMT to protest at Parliament tomorrow over threat to ban transport workers from taking strike action

TRANSPORT UNION RMT has confirmed that it will be staging a protest tomorrow outside Parliament in response to the threat by the in-coming Tory government to ban workers across the sector from taking any kind of effective industrial action.

The provisions for this legislation are expected to be included in tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech and as a result the demonstration has been organised to assemble outside parliament on:

Thursday 19th December, by 12.30pm by Parliament Square, (Opposite the Houses of Parliament), SW1P 3JX. https://goo.gl/maps/uAmeAS6o46rmk8hW9 


RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

“It hasn’t taken long for the true colours of this new Tory Government to emerge and tomorrow we will be kicking off the fight back against their new raft of anti-union laws.

“Nobody should be under any illusions about the scale of the threat now being lined up against the trade union movement. Banning strikes and denying workers the basic human right to withdraw their labour has been the hallmark of hard right, authoritarian regimes throughout history.

“It is no coincidence that this threat comes while our members on South Western Railway are continuing a month of rock-solid action in defence of the basic principle of a rail service that is safe and accessible for all.

“Instead of attacking rail workers fighting to defend safety and disabled access any responsible Government would be tackling the scandal of private profiteering on Britain’s railways which has reduced services to chaos.”

Other unions back the protest, taking industrial action is a basic human right and denying workers the ability to withdraw their labour has previously been the hallmark of hard right, authoritarian regimes.

The provisions for this legislation will be included in Thursday’s Queen’s Speech and a demonstration has been organised outside parliament to coincide with it by the Trade Union Co-ordinating Group, of which PCS is a member.

Firefighters win back pensions in blow to government

Over 6,000 firefighters are entitled to return to their pre-2015 pension schemes, an employment tribunal declared today, in a landmark victory for the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) with implications across the public sector. This comes after the Court of Appeal ruled last December that the government’s attacks on firefighter pensions constituted unlawful age discrimination.

The claimants, members of the 1992 and 2006 firefighters’ pension schemes, are now entitled to be treated as if they have remained members of their original pension scheme, with benefits including a retirement age of between 50 and 55.

In July, the government admitted it had spent £495,000 on legal costs fighting to maintain discriminatory pensions, while the total annual cost of applying the ruling across the public sector could be up to £4 billion.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said:

“Last Christmas, we gave firefighters the gift of a victory in the courts. This year, firefighters can celebrate knowing that their union has secured their rightful retirement – a gift borne of solidarity that proves what unions can achieve.

“The law has now changed and our FBU claimants will be entitled to return to their previous pension schemes. Legislation will need to be amended, but there can be no delay in implementing this remedy. Firefighters were robbed, and they must now be repaid.

“To the new Tory government, let me be clear. We fought tooth and nail against your attacks on our pensions and won. If you dare to try to pay for these changes by raiding the pensions of current or future firefighters, we will come for you again – and we will win.”

In 2015, the Tory-Lib Dem government imposed a series of detrimental changes to firefighter pensions, which included a built-in “transitional protection” which kept older firefighters on better pension schemes while younger members were moved onto a new, worse pension scheme, which included a requirement to work until aged 60.

In December 2018, the Court of Appeal ruled that this transitional protection arrangement constituted age discrimination and was therefore unlawful. The government then attempted an appeal to the Supreme Court which was denied in June 2019, ending their legal challenge. They have since confirmed that the ruling will be applied across all public sector pensions.

Today’s decision is an interim declaration which will cover immediate cases, such as those who have taken ill-health retirement, with a final declaration in July. It will apply to firefighters who joined the fire and rescue service before 1 April 2012.

The declaration follows similar judgements for judges, police, and Ministry of Defence police. The FBU is the only organisation that has fought on behalf of firefighters and launched over 6,000 employment tribunal cases, organised dozens of periods of industrial action, and sent hundreds of firefighters to lobby parliament against the changes.

The FBU will now pursue compensation for injury to feelings and compensation for financial losses for claimants who lost money due to the changes.

Any FBU member who was a member of the fire and rescue service before 1 April 2012 who is not currently a claimant will be able to register as a claimant shortly, with details and frequently asked questions to be addressed in an all members circular.

AMAZON PROTEST- CYBER MONDAY 2ND DECEMBER 2019

Tis the season to hurt Amazon, falalaa laa la la la. They are mean there’s no comparison, falalaa laa la la la.

This 2nd of December at 10.45 am GMB would appreciate your assistance and attendance at Amazon office’s from 10.45 am for approximately 3 hours. Your welcome to attend during this period when you can, but the greater the number the louder the message. We hope to have frontbench speakers from the Labour Party as well as our famous rat.

Please get the message out far and wide so we can make the difference.

Details of the location is below.

Amazon HQ, 1 Principle Place, Worship Street, London, EC2A 2FA (Shoreditch/City of London) Farringdon and Barbican stations are around five minutes walk.

Please feel free to contact me should you have further questions in relation to this important event

The hashtags (#) we will be using for the day are: #AmazonWeAreNotRobots #AmazonPayYourTaxes #AmazonActOnClimate

New Labour Manifesto – Trade Union policies

  • Requiring breaks during shifts to be paid.
  • Giving everyone full rights from day one on the job.
  • Strengthening protections for whistleblowers and rights against unfair dismissal for all workers.
  • Ending bogus self-employment and creating a single status of ‘worker’ for everyone
  • Banning zero-hour contracts and strengthening the law so that those who work regular hours for more than 12 weeks will have a right to a regular contract, reflecting those hours.
  • Increasing wages through sectoral collective bargaining.
  • Requiring cancelled shifts to be paid and proper notice for changes in hours.
  • Giving all workers the right to flexible working.
  • Extending statutory maternity pay from nine to 12 months.
  • Doubling paternity leave from two weeks to four and increasing statutory paternity pay.
  • Introducing statutory bereavement leave, guaranteeing workers time off to grieve the loss of close family members or following miscarriage.
  • Introducing four new bank holidays celebrating our four patron saints’ days.
  • Reviewing family-friendly employment rights, including rights to respond to family emergencies.
  • Requiring employers to devise and implement plans to eradicate the gender pay gap – and pay inequalities underpinned by race and/or disability – or face fines.
  • Requiring employers to maintain workplaces free of harassment, including harassment by third parties.
  • Increasing protection against redundancy for people wherever they work.
  • Giving statutory rights to equalities representatives.
  • Setting up a Royal Commission to bring health (including mental health) and safety legislation up to date.
  • Ensuring that public-facing workers are protected by toughening the law against abuse and violence.
  • Banning unpaid internships.
  • We will remove unfair and unnecessary restrictions on trade unions, allowing people to come together and speak up on issues that affect them at work.
  • Allow trade unions to use secure electronic and workplace ballots.
  • Remove unnecessary restrictions on industrial action.
  • Strengthen and enforce trade unions’ right of entry to workplaces to organise, meet and represent their members and to recruit.
  • Ban union-busting, strengthen protection of trade union representatives against unfair dismissal and union members from intimidation, harassment, threats and blacklisting.
  • Repeal anti-trade union legislation including the Trade Union Act 2016 and create new rights and freedoms for trade unions to help them win a better deal for working people.
  • Simplify the law around union recognition. Give union reps adequate time off for union duties.

CWU reacts to High Court Judgement

The CWU is extremely disappointed at the ruling and we have no doubt our members and representatives will feel the same way. Following 18 months of negotiations, including external mediation, the company’s actions are nothing more than a desperate delaying tactic from a board who are increasingly out of touch with the views of its workforce.

Legal proceedings and Royal Mail’s court room politics will not solve the company’s problems. The union has nothing to fear from mediation and unless there is significant movement from the company on a range of issues and a satisfactory agreement is concluded, the union will be calling further strike action once the mediation process has been completed. Furthermore, we will not allow Royal Mail to string out the process beyond the minimum required period.

CWU General Secretary Dave Ward said “The company are deluded if they believe their court room politics will resolve this dispute. Instead the company’s actions will have the complete opposite effect. Postal Workers’ attitude towards the company will harden and it makes us more determined than ever to defend our members pensions, jobs, service and achieve our objectives.”

“Unless the company significantly shifts its position on a range of issues and we can quickly conclude a good agreement for our members then strike action is inevitable. “

“We walked into the court today with a massive 90% yes vote for strike action – we walked out of the court today with a massive 90% vote for strike action. We want an agreement and will comply with the injunction to undertake further external mediation. But sooner rather than later Royal Mail Group will have to confront the harsh reality that they are completely out of touch with the views of its workforce.“

CWU Deputy General Secretary Terry Pullinger said “We saw today that Royal Mail Group would rather spend time, money and resources playing politics than engaging with this union to reach an agreement. Our members are square behind the CWU and from this moment we are putting Royal Mail on notice of further action should the mediation fail. Let me be clear – we will not stand by and see this once great institution run into the ground. Our members will stand up and save it by whatever means are necessary.”

“We will use the mediation process to seek an agreement but also to galvanise support amongst our members and the public. Be in no doubt though, if Royal Mail Group are not serious about reaching an agreement we will not hesitate to call strike action immediately after the mediation period closes.”

#mcstrike: The start of something big

On Tuesday, McDonald’s workers took strike action to demand a fair wage and a union to represent them. Thousands of supporters backed their call and made sure McDonald’s know they’re up against a powerful movement. 

In more than 35 locations across the country, supporters organised McStrike solidarity actions, speaking to the public about the campaign. Their conversations are critical in building public support and putting pressure on McDonald’s.

And you couldn’t pick up a newspaper yesterday without reading about McStrike. There was coverage in The Mirror, The Guardian, The iThe Daily Mail and many more. 

And this is just the beginning. McDonald’s will not back down easily, which is why your support is so important. Our movement will grow and these workers will strike again.

We will fight until these workers, and workers everywhere, get what’s fair.

This campaign will be long, so anything you can chip in will help our movement win.

Chip in to support McDonald’s workers and the McStrike

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