Category Archives: Community

Finchley More In Common meeting

moreincommon-shortFinchley residents! Please join our #MoreInCommon meeting on Wednesday 15th March at 7.15-8.30, at the Blue Beetle room at St Mary at Finchley parish hall, Hendon Lane (5 minutes walk from Finchley Central tube).

We want to bring together local people concerned about the rise in intolerance and racism since the EU referendum. We’ll share our ideas about what can be – and is being done – locally to build a positive response to hate, and longer-term we’ll turn those ideas into reality. 

No special expertise or insight needed. All welcome – any and every religion, ethnicity, political persuasion, age – you just have to be concerned and want to help.

For more information please contact mslizzyhawkins@gmail. com.

More on the Hope Not Hate website here: http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/more-in-common/

Unite Community to Launch Barnet Group on January 24th

unite_community_logoThe London & Eastern Region of Unite Community is setting up a new group here in the London borough of Barnet.

The launch  meeting will be on Tuesday the 24th of January at 7pm in the Green Man Community Centre, Strawberry Vale, London N2 9BA.

We campaign on what matters to you; Housing, NHS, Welfare Cuts, and with each campaign WIN we deliver real social change.

A recent campaign that we have led, which has galvanised  a wide-ranging coalition – football fan groups, shareholders, War on Want, Peoples’ Assembly is #SportsDirectShame.

This campaign is the platform, we hope to ban the use of Zero Hour Contracts, which could benefit millions of workers. Ending precarious work links unemployed workers’ and workers and sends a clear message to the kind of society we want.

Our 3,300 members are organised in Branches throughout the London and Eastern Region and there will be an active funded group near you which drives local campaigns.

See more at: http://www.unitetheunion.org/how-we-help/listofregions/londonandeastern/community-membership-in-london-and-eastern/#sthash.Vad6H4zG.dpuf

“Unsafe & Unsustainable”- Barnet UNISON speech to Barnet Councillors

barnet-unison-logo-e1462368170626The following speech was delivered to General Functions Committee,
on Tuesday 6th December at 7pm in Hendon Town Hall

“Dear members of the committee

I addressing you as both the branch secretary of Barnet UNISON, but also speaking as a service user of mental health services, indeed without the support I was given and the ongoing support I still receive today there is a strong likelihood I may not of been speaking to you this eveningjohn-t-shirt

It is also worth noting much quoted statistic that one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.

I therefore speak not only as a worker but from personal experience of using mental health services.

I also want to make this point that I believe is often missed by elected members. I speaking to you all as employers not politicians. It is as an employer I am wanting to address our members, your staff concerns about the proposal before the committee this evening.

Firstly, I can confirm we are not opposed to the staff being brought back into the Council and we are fully supportive of the proposed social care model of intervention.

However when travelling across the borough it is impossible not to see the number of housing developments; and with it the increase in population; and with that the increased need for schools, NHS provision, social services to name but a few public services.

It is therefore highly dangerous to be proposing to cut Mental Health services at a time when the population is growing.

It is our view that the proposed cut of mental health social workers coupled with the increase in responsibilities will NOT lead to a safer service for service users, families and carers.

Barnet UNISON is extremely concerned about the reduction of social workers and the introduction of Assessment Enablement Officers (AEO).

In mental health staff are working with extremely complex and high risk individuals in situations where you need qualified experienced and knowledgeable staff.

Currently mental health social workers have significantly high caseloads (which includes the work connected to their statutory responsibilities in their Approved Mental Health Practitioner roles.

The cut in social workers will lead to greater pressure upon an already pressured staff group increasing the risk of more Serious Untoward Incidents (SUI) happening.

You will no doubt have been briefed that the Council is not making any social workers redundant, which is true; and you will have been told that the new proposal to replace qualified social workers with AEO’s will provide a better service.

With respect this premise is nonsense.

The proposal to cut mental health social workers is directly driven by NEED.

However, not by the NEEDS of service users and carers, but by the NEED to make Austerity cuts.

Lessons learnt

I would like to remind the committee that it was only two years ago when I addressed this same committee about the now infamous Family Services restructure. At that meeting I tried to convince members of the committee to extend the period of consultation as I was concerned the changes had been driven through in haste and that I feared there would be consequences for the service and the staff.  Unfortunately the committee chose accept the advice of senior officers who are now no longer working for the council. However I can report that the restructure had to be revisited as I predicted, there was a high turnover of experienced social work staff which then resulted in the recruitment crisis you now have in children’s social work.

 

Sometimes it is worth listening to UNISON.

 

We’ve been here before 18th February this year, Adults brought a similar proposal to cut social work posts, and use non-professionally qualified workers.

My members, your staff, describe feeling they are “flying by the seat of their pants”

The rationale put before this committee for cutting social work posts was that new Capita IT database “Mozaic” would deliver efficiencies. Well 10 months later this is not happening because “Mozaic”, once again has been pulled. There have been so many false starts with Mozaic if they had been a sprinter they’d have been disqualified from the Olympics by now.

 

Consultancy spend

I want members to take a look at agency/consultants spend.

Last year the council spent £18.2 million on agency/consultants. This figure is larger than the year before which was £17.9 million, which was significantly larger than the previous year which was £15.5million, which was previously larger than the previous year £13.7million which was previously larger than the previous year £12.5million.

In the last two quarters of this year the Council has already spent £13.7 million on agency/consultants which if the current pattern continues could see the Council break £20million.

It is our view that the Council needs to address this agency/consultancy uncontrollable spend in order to protect vital front line services and in this case drop the proposal to cut social work posts.

 

John Burgess

Branch Secretary

Barnet UNISON

Update on Save Barnet Libraries campaign: Protest with Unison workers on 6th of December

Barnet UNISON Librarylast-ditch-libraries-2 workers 46% of whom are facing the sack are quite rightly outraged by the latest financial information on Council spend which was published last week.

Barnet Council Policy & Resources Committee meets at Hendon Town Hall at 7 pm on Thursday 2 December 2016.

 

It is Agenda Item 10 – Annual Procurement Forward Plan which has caused anger and dismay and disbelief.

http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s36302/Appendix%201%20-%20Annual%20Procurement%20Forward%20Plan%202017-18.pdf

Scroll down to point 17 in the procurement plan it reveals proposed spend on Libraries construction of £12 million with additional items 18-25 showing an additional £2.125 million for additional associated costs:

Making a total of £14.125 million.

A quick recap on other Barnet Council spend.

Below are the Agency/Consultancy figures for the last four years.

  • £12,526,943
  • £13,775,546
  • £15,538,090
  • £17,907,052

Making a total of £59, 747,631 million

In the first two quarters of this financial year Barnet Council has spent £9.3 million which, if it continues at this rate, will bring the total spend for this year to over £20 million on Consultants/Agency.

Barnet Council claims it is being forced into the Library changes by a need to cut £2,162 million from the Library Service budget by 2019/20.

Members and Barnet UNISON have been asking a very simple question:

“Is it true that in order to save £2,162 million Barnet Council are spending over £6 million (which does not include redundancy costs) on a project to close four public libraries (by handing them to volunteers), on a project that will restrict access for disabled people and children under 15 and are now planning to spend an additional £14,125 million on construction and associated costs (making a grand total of £20.125 million)?”

This latest revelation seriously calls into question as to why staff are being made redundant and why a service with a 97% Customer satisfaction is being brutally dismantled.

As far as Barnet UNISON is aware the £14.125 million construction and additional costs have never been disclosed in any of the reports going to previous Children’s Education, Libraries and Safeguarding Committees.

What can we do?

There is still time to stop the destruction of the Barnet Libraries Service. Barnet UNISON will be speaking at General Functions Committee on Tuesday 6 December at 7 pm at Hendon Town Hall. The Leader of Barnet Council Richard Cornelius is on this committee. The committee could refuse to implement the redundancies which would save the Library Service.

 

Join Barnet UNISON on #6December

County Durham Trades Union Council & County Durham Teaching Assistants

County Durham Trades Union Council  TUCS                    

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                           06 June 2016

County Durham Teaching Assistants (#ValueUs) and County Durham Trades Union (CDTUC) to stage joint solidarity rally in opposition to council decision to sack 2,700 staff and slash pay by 25%                     

This event will take place on Thursday 9th June 2016, at 19.00 (registration will open at 18.00) at the Durham Miners’ Hall, Flass St, Durham, County Durham DH1 4BE

Durham Trades Union Council will host and chair a public meeting in support of County Durham Teaching Assistants, who are currently fighting against Durham County Council’s controversial decision to fire and rehire thousands of staff on vastly reduced terms, which will see many facing up to a 25% pay cut.

The purpose of this event is to support the existing Teaching Assistants grassroots campaign #ValueUs, which has been running since the council announced its plans last October.

This event will bring together local community groups, teachers, unions, parents, pupils and local MPs, who have made the decision to unite in opposition to this attack on a low paid and predominantly female workforce.

Keynote speakers include Davy Hopper, General Secretary of Durham Miners’ Association, John Gilmore (NUT), Gillian Iveson, Lisa Turnbull, Claire Reed and Anne Richardson (Teaching Assistants and #ValueUs campaign organisers).

CDTUC Secretary, Ben Sellers, said:

As many other people in the wider labour movement have stated, the way County Durham’s teaching assistants have been treated is nothing short of disgraceful.

County councillors will say there is nothing to be done, but many of us feel that when low paid workers are facing pay cuts of up to 25%, there has to be a better solution and we are determined to ensure that negotiations between the council and unions continue until they find it.  

But, devastating though these cuts are, it’s not all a tale of woe; what we have witnessed in the determination and organisational ability of these Teaching Assistants is in the tradition of the best of our movement. They’re an inspiration.

Teaching Assisatant and #ValueUs campaign organiser, Gillian Iveson, said:

This event is incredibly important to our campaign because we need to get the truth out to the public. This is not simply a dispute about holiday pay as some would like to think. We are full time employees being forced into part-time contracts with part-time wages. We work above and beyond our contract on a daily basis and this cut is kick in the teeth to those of us who have dedicated years of service out of a love for the job we do and the children we care for.

Teaching Assistant and #ValueUs campaign organiser, Anne Richardson, said:

Having been truly inspired by the vigour and impact that Durham Teaching Assistants have achieved thus far through their own determination and efforts to highlight the catastrophic life changing measures being forced upon them, I feel this event is a vital stage in the growth and development of the TA’s campaign, as it is increasing public awareness of the real tragedies in this story. The Teaching Assistants’ voices are going to be heard and more importantly listened to, as they gain the support of other unions at both county and national level.

General Secretary, Durham Miners’ Association, Davy Hopper said:

Education is one of the most important public services we have and frankly it is unbelievable that a Labour Authority is behaving in this way. They should immediately start renegotiating with the Teaching Assistants and sort out this mess. My solidarity is with the Teaching Assistants.

Grahame Morris, MP for Easington, said:

“I whole-heartedly oppose the decision by Durham County Council to substantially cut the income of low paid teaching assistants and I’m frankly appalled they would use such an abhorrent practice of dismissing and re-engaging, in order to impose a new contract.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  1. For further information about this event please contact:

Kathryne Wray (Press and Communications, CDTUC) 07946719668 kathrynewray@hotmail.com

  1. County Durham Trades Union Council (CDTUC)

CDTUC is a registered branch of the Trades Union Congress and works to bring together unions to work and campaign around issues affecting working people in their local workplaces and communities. Our aim is to raise public awareness of rights at work and the union role in enforcing those rights; promote organising and recruitment drives to build union membership; and support union and community campaigns for dignity and respect in the workplace and beyond.

For further information about CDTUC please contact:

Ben Sellers, Secretary, secretary.cdtuc@gmail.com

  1. #ValueUs – County Durham Teaching Assistants – campaign group

For more information about this grassroots campaign please contact:

Gillian Iveson, gill1968@aol.com, 07580562837

Barnet Libraries are taking industrial action

UNISON members working in Barnet Libraries are taking industrial action on the 13th, 14th and 15th of June 2016 in opposition to the Council’s plan to outsource the Library Service.

What the Council intends for Barnet Libraries

  • Library posts will be cut by 46%, a loss of 52 full time equivalent posts
  • Staffed hours will be reduced by 70% (despite overwhelming opposition to this from respondents to the Council’s Library consultations)
  • Under 15 year olds unaccompanied by an adult will not be able to use libraries during unstaffed hours, which will be for most of the  time libraries are open
  • Library space to be reduced, thus cutting study space and book stock
  • Four libraries to be run by “community groups”
  • Phase 3 alternative delivery model to be identified for this section.

More detailed analysis of the destruction of the Library service can be found in our report entitled “Direct and Collateral Damage to the Future of Barnet Libraries” here

http://www.european-services-strategy.org.uk/publications/public-bodies/transformation-and-public-service-reform/options-appraisals/direct-and-collateral-damage-to-barnet-librari/barnet-libraries-unison-march-2016.pdf

UNISON Picket Lines will be at the following Barnet Libraries:

  • Monday 13th June – Mill Hill Library (Hartley Avenue, Mill Hill, London NW7 2HX) from 8.30 am
  • Tuesday 14th June – North Finchley (Ravensdale Ave, North Finchley N12 9HP) from 8.30 am followed by a demonstration outside Barnet House 12-1 pm
  • Wednesday 15th June –  Chipping Barnet Library (3 Stapylton Road, Barnet, EN5 4QT) from 8.30 am

UNISON Library Convenor, Hugh Jordan said: Barnet UNISON calls for the current plan to decimate our Library Service to be stopped now before further damage is done. Our members are angry at proposals which look to sack half of them and then outsource them to another employer. Every day we hear of another Library closing due to cuts, handing over the service to volunteers or outsourcing. Enough is enough, there needs to be a national response to the systemic destruction of the national library service. Our Borough needs real libraries and real library professionals and para-professional, only this year our service was given a 96% customer satisfaction rating. If the Library staff less plan is implemented and staff sacked their absence will see Barnet pay a heavy price in the coming years as literacy levels fall, accessibility to information is reduced, and social mobility is further curtailed. Lastly, whilst we appreciate the current support from Library volunteers we are asking volunteers not to take our jobs away which is the part of the Barnet Libraries Plan”

Barnet resident refuses to volunteer & take jobs away from Library staff

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Background

For those unfamiliar with the Barnet Libraries debacle please watch this short animation which details the plans for our fantastic Library Service.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3XfibjbJuA

Keith Martin for local government worker, resident and long standing Libraries campaigner wrote a response to the Local Times newspaper survey “Have your say over Barnet future Library service”http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/14528718.Have_your_say_over_Barnet___s_future_library_service/

Keith has given permission to share his response with our members in the Library Service.

“Would I volunteer?”

“Mrs Angry expresses my views succinctly in her Broken Barnet blog.

http://wwwbrokenbarnet.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/the-eve-of-destruction-act-now-or-wave.html

and here http://wwwbrokenbarnet.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/barnet-libraries-capita-it-crash.html

  1. Half the staff will be losing their livelihoods,
  2. You cannot replace professional library staff with volunteers,
  3. The proposals amount to the virtual destruction of the library service,
  4. Shrinking libraries, halving the book stock, the highly risky use of unstaffed DIY libraries. All are dangerous, stupid gambles.
  5. What next?
  6. Why not instead cut the massive allowances and perks received by councillors?
  1. Now the view from me. I have been a library volunteer at Friern Barnet Community Library for nearly four years now, initially at the invitation of Phoenix and the squatters who began their occupation on 5 September 2012. My experiences are recorded in my book Friern Barnet – the library that refused to close. I was a co-defendant with the squatters in the action by Barnet Council for their eviction in December 2012, and one of the original band of trustees appointed by the community to run the library in succession to the squatters.

Would I volunteer for Reuben Thompstone’s plans to reshape the library service; to harness Barnet’s community spirit?

Would I thus be a party to putting chartered librarians and other professional library staff on the dole, after they have attempted to train unskilled volunteers such as myself to replace them? Would I be a party to actions which have as their goal the closure of libraries and the wrecking of educational opportunities to schoolchildren which generations of library users have benefitted from as their birthright?

No, I would not.

This is why I am active in the campaign to save not only libraries in Barnet but throughout the United Kingdom.

Best wishes

Keith”

Solidarity message from Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell

Solidarity message from Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell

Solidarity message from Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell“I want to send a message of solidarity and support to Barnet UNISON members, and the many community campaigns who have been fighting Barnet Council as it carries out its relentless ideological war against public services,the disabled and their own staff. I cant be with you with you on your protest on Tuesday 24 May, keep fighting your all are an inspiration” John McDonnell MP Shadow Chancellor

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