Category Archives: Trades Dispute

PCS Driving & Vehicle Standards Agency Strike: 4 and 5 December 2017

UPDATE: PCS report that the action is so solid at Barnet they will NOT need to picket tomorrow morning.

Strike action disrupts new driving tests – picket line from 7:30 am at the Barnet Driving Test Centre, Raydean House, 15 – 17 Western Parade, Barnet. EN5 1AD, solidarity visits greatly welcomed!

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) in the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will take 48 hour strike action on Monday 4th December ending at Midnight on the 5th December. This adds to the action short of a strike which began last week (23rd) in a dispute over the new driving test and also working patterns.

This action has already led to hundreds of tests being cancelled in the first week of the action.

In a perverse move DVSA has withdrawn overtime from striking workers and also imposed leave schedules meaning that an even greater backlog of thousands of tests is inevitable due to the imposed reductions in service. 

A ballot in October saw an 84% vote for strike action on a 70% turnout.

The strike action across the DVSA which begins on the 4th December will see up to 14,000 driving tests cancelled on the day the new driving test is launched.  

Other effects of the action include reduced roadside checks on vehicles, reduced enforcement checks on lorries and other vehicles coming into the U.K and a significant reduction of tachograph testing. 

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka commented

“PCS members in the DVSA have tried to negotiate around their concerns but the door has been slammed shut in their face. They now feel they have no alternative but to take industrial action to bring home to the public how damaging the DVSA proposals are. No one takes strike action lightly and we acknowledge the disruption to the driving tests for learner drivers keen to pass their test but the Government could avoid this strike even now at the 11th hour by agreeing to serious talks and withdrawing their most damaging proposals. I have today written to the Transport Minister Chris Grayling urging him to intervene.”

For information contact PCS National Press Officer Steve Battlemuch on 07515 605755 or via email steveb@pcs.org.uk

Other picket lines in the SERTUC region can be found here https://www.pcs.org.uk/campaigns/pcs-fighting-attacks-on-staff-in-dvsa/support-pcs-dvsa-picket-lines

Mark Serwotka is available for interviews on Monday 4th Dec from 1pm at Millbank studio.

The PCS letter to Chris Grayling is available here https://www.pcs.org.uk/sites/default/files/site_assets/campaigns/2017/Letter%20to%20Chris%20Grayling%20MP%2030%20november.pdf

PCS is one of the UK’s largest unions and represents civil and public servants in central government and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. Mark Serwotka is the general secretary and the president is Janice Godrich – on Twitter @janicegodrich

Follow PCS on Twitter @pcs_union

UCU Strike Brighton University Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th

Members of the UCU at the University of Brighton will walk out on strike on Thursday at 1pm in dispute about compulsory redundancies. They will continue their strike on Friday and then begin a work-to-contract the following Monday. Further strike action is planned for December. The action follows a ballot which returned majorities in favour of action of more than 85%.

If you can head down to any of the Uni sites from 8pm on Friday to show support on the picket lines please do.

Please send messages of support to ucubrighton@gmail.com

Defend the Right to Picket Demo – Saturday 25th November 2pm Brighton Station

As you will be aware the RMT are in a long running dispute with Southern Rail about the removal of guards from trains.

The RMT had previously been running effective pickets at the back of Brighton station that many drivers were refusing to cross. To try to stop this Southern have threatened strong legal action under the anti-union laws to move the pickets well away from the station.

Please head down to the station on Saturday at 2pm to show your support for having guards on our trains and for the right for union members to picket their own workplace without fear of victimisation.

Please do what you can to support and publicise this. Please can you bring banners flags etc!!!

McStrike Protest at McDonald’s HQ

JOIN US SAT 2 SEP, 2PM, EAST FINCHLEY MCDONALD’S HQ: BFAWU Fast Food Rights and #McStrike workers NEED YOUR SOLIDARITY!

McDonald’s UK announced in a big fanfare in the press back in April that thefastfoody would offer every one of its UK workers a guaranteed hours contract.

And yet it took 40 brave McDonald’s workers to vote for a strike before McDonald’s bothered to communicate anything to its workers about this promise.

When the 95.7 percent YES vote to strike was announced, with the first ever UK McDonald’s strike now set to take place on Monday 4 September, suddenly McDonald’s UK stated they would deliver on their promise by the end of 2017.

We say now sit down with our BFAWU bakers’ union president and m their living standards.

BFAWU Fast Food Rights and our supporters will be outside McDonald’s HQ at East Finchley on Saturday 2 September – two days before the strike – with a table, chairs and a determination to get the promise in writing – we demand that McDonald’s meet us and guarantee that this time their promise is more than a publicity stunt.

And we call on supporters from the wider trade union and social movement to join us there, with banners, with visible support for the workers taking this bold historic action in a display of solidarity before they walk out on Monday 4 September.

Facebook page here.

Support Mixed Fleet Unite Workers in Dispute

15401105_1839038679647687_8781491977068279822_nMembers of Unite working for British Airways’ mixed fleet today are engaged in 14 days of continuous strike action.

The strike running from 00:01 hours on Wednesday 19 July 2017 to 23:59 hours on Tuesday 1 August 2017 is in addition to a 16-day strike currently underway which started at 00:01 on Saturday 1 July and finishes at 23:59 on Sunday 16 July.

As part of the dispute, Unite has launched legal action against the government’s decision to give the go-ahead to the ‘wet lease’ of nine Airbus aircraft by British Airways to cover striking cabin crew strike. The union argues that the lease of aircraft and cabin crew from Qatar Airways breaches European regulations.

Since 2010 all British Airways new cabin crew employees join what is called ‘mixed fleet’, where despite promises that pay would be 10 per cent above the market rate, basic pay starts at just £12,192 with £3 an hour flying pay. Unite estimates that on average ‘mixed fleet’ cabin crew earn £16,000, including allowances, a year.

Unite the Union is calling for donations to the hardship fund:

Account name – Mixed-Fleet Unite Hardship Fund

Account # – 2037 6387

Sort Code – 60-83-01

Reference: MFU

 

 

Barnet UNISON sends solidarity & donations to grassroots members in struggle

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Last week at our branch executive meeting our reps had a report on a number of grassroots struggles taking place across the UK.

I am proud to say that there was no hesitation in wanting to send solidarity messages and donations to these grassroots campaigns. Our branch has been in ongoing struggles for over a decade. We have had tremendous acts of support and solidarity from UNISON reps and members not just in the London region but right across our union. We have learnt the importance of solidarity.

I can say from experience just how valuable it is to be able to read out messages of solidarity from other grassroots members to members on picket lines. It imbues a feeling of confidence that is badly needed when you are under attack.

Here are the campaigns we sent solidarity and or sent donations.

  • Kinsley 3 campaign
  • Derby TAs
  • Durham TA’s
  • Glasgow UNISON members: IT workers and Janitors
  • Kirklees Social Workers
  • Aslef, RMT, TSSA workers
  • PCS members working at the Employment and Human Rights Office

 

John Burgess

Branch Secretary

Barnet UNISON

“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

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