Monthly Archives: December 2016

Trade Union Courses at College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London

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As you may be aware, the government has attacked the funding that is available for trade union education, reducing it by 50% this year and then to nothing from August 2017. However, currently we are still able to offer free courses, so there is still an opportunity to take advantage of this. Unfortunately, this may be your last chance.

The leaflet is here: tu-ed-course-flyer-2017

 If you are interested (or know any colleagues who may be interested) in attending any of the courses on offer, then please apply online at https://www.tuceducation.org.uk/ or contact the trade union education department at CoNEL on 020 8442 3075 or email at tued@conel.ac.uk.

“The NHS will last as long as there are folk with the faith to fight for it” Nye Bevan, Founder of the NHS

nhs_temp_leaflet_frontIt’s Our NHS

  • No cuts, closures or privatisation
  • End the pay restraint for NHS staff
  • For a fully funded, publicly owned health service

National Demonstration
Saturday 4 March 2017, Central London
Full details soon

Our NHS is in a major crisis and this government is doing nothing to stop it. Some say the NHS only has one winter left in it.

On the backdrop of continued cuts and closures, private companies seek to gain even more of a foothold within the NHS.

Continued pay restraint has seen the value of NHS staff salaries reduce by 14% since 2010 and there are now 25,000 nursing and 3,500 midwifery vacancies in NHS England alone.

The Government’s latest plans for Sustainability and Transformation Plans are, in reality, just a smokescreen for £22bn in cuts and it’s latest instrument of privatisation.

The NHS is the single greatest achievement of working class people in Britain. We cannot allow it to be undermined and ultimately destroyed by a Tory government who’s priority is to put profit in the pockets on the corporations & big business.

Please help us make the demonstration as big as possible. Leaflets, posters and publicity will be available soon from the People’s Assembly office. In the meantime, please share and invite your friends on Facebook, discuss with your union branch, local campaign groups and community organisations about supporting the demonstration & book transport to London.

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity
http://www.thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/

Climate Refugees, The Climate Crisis & Population Displacement: Building A Trade Union & Civil Society Response

National Conference

Saturday 11th February 2017

10.00-5.00pm

NUT Conference Centre Hamilton House, Mabledon Place Euston, London climate

Over 140 million people have been forced to move in recent years because of climate change disasters – droughts, harvest failures and devastating storms. Our warming planet is driving massive long-term environmental damage and sudden catastrophes. The UN says environmental refugees could reach 300million people by mid-century. This conference from the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group aims to dispel refugee myths, work on a new Protocol for the international protection of those affected by climate change, raise demands for stronger action, and agree a climate refugees campaign statement.
Expert Contributions from:

  • Prof Joanna Haigh (Grantham Institute at Imperial College)
  • Asad Rehman (FoE)
  • Clara Paillard (PCS)
  • Amjad Abdulla (Alliance of Small Island States tbc)
  • Dave Green (FBU)
  • Sharan Burrow (ITUC, tbc)
  • Wilf Sullivan (TUC)
  • Zak Cochrane (Stand Up To Racism), NUT, PSI
  • Zita Holbourne (PCS)
  • Jonathan Neale (Global Climate Jobs)
  • Suzanne Jeffery (Campaign Against Climate Change)
  • and more.

Four Workshops on:

  1. Unions and campaigns for climate jobs.
  2. Raising awareness of climate change impacts at national and global level.
  3. Unions and campaign groups challenging xenophobia and hostility to refugees and migrants.
  4. Joint work to draft a new Protocol for the international protection of those affected by climate change.

More information: http://www.campaigncc.org/nationalconference

Supporters so far: Campaign Against Climate Change, FBU, TSSA, CWU, PCS, NUT, Stand Up to Racism and other unions and environmental campaigns.

Moroccan students appeal for solidarity ahead of march to defend their union

maroc

From Middle-East and North Africa Solidarity Network

Moroccan students and trade unionists are calling on activists in the trade unions and student unions in Britain and around the world to support their battle to defend the National Union of Moroccan Students from attack by the government. The Moroccan state is trying to take over the union’s headquarters at the same time as cracking down on student struggles across the country.

Student activists have called a protest march on 26 December, marking the 60th anniversary of the union’s foundation.

What you can do:

Appeal for international solidarity [also in عربي ; français; espagnol]

National Consultative Meeting in order to stop the confiscation of the Central seat of the National Union of Moroccan Students: Follow-up Committee

Subject: Request for action and solidarity from student unions with the Moroccan student movement’s struggle

The Moroccan student movement in universities and academic institutions (the number of Moroccan students is approximately 800,000, 48% of whom are women) is strongly struggling against the neo-liberal policies, austerity, suppression and tuition fees, which prevent thousands of children of the working class from enrolling in universities.

This happens while the Moroccan state carries on its policy of cracking down on students’ struggle and detaining them (dozens of comrades were jailed). Therefore, students feel unable to hold their trade union, cultural, and creative rallies supervised by the National Moroccan Students Union (a guild of students founded on 26 December 1956). The latter has been suppressed and banned since July 1981.

Furthermore, and as part of its plan to ban and restrict the right to unionize and democracy within Moroccan universities, the Moroccan government is about to confiscate the above-mentioned Union’s central headquarter, and alienate it to the Ministry of Youth and Sport. This triggered an overwhelming sense of outrage among students in many Moroccan universities, who denounced this unfair decision designed to restrict their trade union freedom.

In retaliation against this anti-student policy, and upon celebrating the 60th anniversary of the above-mentioned Union, a large number of political activists, including the Moroccan student movement and old militants affiliated to the Union, intend to march nationally en masse (on 25 December 2016 in Rabat) to protest against the state’s decision to confiscate the headquarter, defend the right to free, democratic, secularist and appropriate public education, condemn crackdown on trade union freedom at university and demand the release of jailed students.

Hence, we request you to mediate and seek support from brotherly student movements and unions to:

  • Denounce the Moroccan government’s attempt to confiscate the above-mentioned headquarter and alienate it to one of its government departments, including filing a lawsuit;
  • Back the national march, which will take place on 26 December 2016 on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the above-mentioned Union;
  • Provide political and intangible support for the Moroccan students’ battle, including sending statements showing evidence of such support for the struggle against policies of austerity, suppression, and neo-liberalism intended to privatise education;
  • Demand the Moroccan state, through the Ministry of Interior and its security forces, to raise its control and flagrant interference that prevent students from organising their trade union and political activities, and holding their congress supervised by the above-mentioned Union.

Defend Education: Should Summerside be an Academy?

defendeducationWhat do we know about “Reach 2”?
Summerside is too small to “stand alone” as an academy. Parents, Governors and teachers need to know about the quality of the MAT (Multi Academy Trust).  Summerside Governors voted for Reach 2 on May 26th. (see Summerside website, “community”).
Ofsted give 4 ratings. The best is Outstanding, and the lowest is Inadequate.
It is public information that:

  • 55 schools are under Reach 2
  • 35 Reach 2 schools have never had an Ofsted rating.
  • Only 20 Reach 2 schools have an Ofsted inspection rating
  • 10 out of 20 Reach 2 schools, are Ofsted rated “Good”.

So only 50% are “Good” and only 10% Outstanding since Reach 2 have only 2 Outstanding schools.

The remaining 40% of those inspected as Reach 2 schools are  “Requiring Improvement” or “Inadequate” (sources: Schools Week education publication. Janet Downs, Local Schools Network).

  • Dorney primary, Maidenhead, was Ofsted rated “Good” before joining Reach 2, but in Jan 2015 was rated by Ofsted as “Inadequate”.
  • Castle Hill Academy (Croydon) was  Ofsted rated as “Good” before Joining Reach 2 in 2013, but now Castle Hill Academy has been rated by Ofsted as “Inadequate”.

What do we know about Summerside, as it is NOW, within Barnet local authority?
Reach 2 take a payment of 5.5% of the school budget each year from each of their schools. This is not fixed. A MAT sets the charge to each school Options and alternatives to an academy need discussion with parents, all school staff and experts from Barnet. Barnet local authority has 33 “Outstanding” primary schools out of a total of 90 primary schools. None of Barnet local authority schools are rated “Inadequate”. (Source DFE Ofsted ratings for all schools –  Barnet Schools Sept 2016)

REACH 2 may not be best for the future of Summerside. On Sept 20th, the Chair of Governors of Summerside sent a letter to parents, representing Reach 2 claims that……”70% of Reach 2 schools inspected, are “Good or better”, but this is not correct. The most is: “60% of Reach 2 schools inspected are “Good” or “Outstanding”, 40% are inadequate or require improvement. This is why a consultation meeting for parents, staff and teachers should be offered voluntarily by the Governors.  This is what the Summerside petition asks for. You can sign as a resident or as a current parent.
Phone or email to read the petition or to sign it.
Email:  BarnetPDE@gmail.com                     Tel : 07534 407703

Barnet UNISON oppose the Council plans for Libraries

British Library, Kings Cross. March to protest about cuts to libraries, museums and the arts. Barnet Unison were on the march along with striking Barnet library staff. 05/11/16  BP AMS

The Council may not plan to close any libraries in the short or mid-term but what is being proposed will reduce their quality, accessibility and  safety and to closures in the long term,

The Council are proposing to cut the staffing budget by 46%.

This means that around 30 library workers are now learning they will lose their jobs. These are men and women who have given years and sometimes decades of service to the people of Barnet.

This is poor reward to a workforce who have consistently achieved percentage scores in the high 90’s for good public satisfaction.

Such a cull of the library workers means that libraries will only be staffed for 30% of the opening times at the most.  The Council claiming that self-service machines and to a less extent volunteer are adequate replacements.

 

The Council are relying on technology to control access to libraries.

People will swipe their library cards through an automatic gate to gain access during these times.

But under 15 years olds unaccompanied by an adult won’t be able to do this. So young people access to our libraries are being severely curtailed.

 

Leaving libraries unstaffed will put those using them at risk.

Monitored CCTV with a response time of thirty minutes is not a sufficient replacement for having staff on site who can prevent incidents escalating and who can respond immediately to emergencies.

 

But not only are human assets of the libraries being lost, the physical space is too.

Barnet libraries are to lose between 15 to 90% of their space.  This means fewer items to borrow. Less space for computers and less space to host events such as story times or author events.

 

The people of Mill Hill, East Barnet, South Friern and Childs Hill will not even have the limited access library service available in the rest of the borough. Their libraries are to be handed over to voluntary groups, who will only be obliged to open for 15 hours a week.

 

The Council justify the wrecking of Barnet Library Service by a claimed need to save money.  The intention being to reduce the library budget by 1.6 million pounds by 2019/20.

 

Yet the Council originally allocated over 6 and a half million pounds to restructure the library service. Recently we have learned that over 14 million pounds are to be spent on library procurements in the next financial year. This is a lot of money to be spent on reducing the assets, efficiency, accessibility and safety of a service.

 

These changes will lead to a decline in use.

 

Why would you use a library that won’t have the books you want, where no help will be available, not enough computers available, where there will be no room to sit and study and where you will feel unsafe?

 

Barnet UNISON hope that this decline will not be used as an excuse by the present administration to close libraries a few years from now.

Instead we ask that the Council withdraw the plans for restructure and to engage in real consultation with library staff at all levels, and the people of Barnet on how to provide a Library service fit for the 21st Century.”

“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

Report on Transport Access Issues from SERTUC Disabled Workers Network

tuc_logoReport on Transport Access Issues from SERTUC Disabled Workers Network for 1 Dec 2016 SERTUC Transport Industries Network (To be taken forward as ongoing for future meetings)

Ticket Office Closures
The closure of ticket offices restricts access to tube travel and mainline rail travel for disabled people. Those who are partially sighted and have learning difficulties. Have great difficulty or are unable to use automatic ticket machines.
Cuts in Outer urban and rural bus routes
Cuts in outer urban and rural bus routes both in terms of the areas that they cover and their frequency. This restricts the ability of disabled people to get around and lead an active life. Also of course not only impact on disabled people. Also families and individuals that don’t own or have access to a car. Also people that give up driving due to ill health and old age.

No lift access to stations
On tube and mainline so many stations don’t have lift access. Meaning that the disabled and the infirm are unable to use these stations. On the tube it also restricts access to those who have a fear of escalators.
Unstaffed stations
There is no assistance for people who need help to get on trains. Especially at stations where there is a wide platform gap.
Large Platform gaps
These restrict the access to disabled people on the tube and more so on mainline trains. Clapham junction is an instance. Also Wembley on tube I believe were a low height tube train uses a high level mainline platform.
Unstaffed Stations
When stations are unstaffed they do feel unsafe. Not only concern for disabled people. Also for women travelling later at night. Or of course anyone with a fear and concern about using an unstaffed station.

Unclear station announcements for partially sighted people
Partially sighted people can often find that station announcements are unclear. There is limited staff on a station for them to go to for help on which train and platform that they need.
The need to book in advance if you need assistance to travel
The need to book in advance if you need assistance to travel. Is a restriction and limitation on the access for disabled people to mainline rail especially. You are not able to suddenly decide you would like to make a journey.
Automatic Rottweiler barriers
The narrow automatic Rottweiler barriers are a restriction to travel for disabled people. There are very few wide gates on most tube and mainline stations. For mainline stations Kings Cross is a prime example of this. It was rebuilt with a sea of automatic Rottweiler barriers.

Bus routes using legislation to use buses with no disabled access
There is legislation that as I understand it. Allows bus companies to continue using buses with no disabled access. To extend the life of older buses to reduce operating costs. As well as probably franchising costs for councils. Giving them a cheaper franchise cost on marginal bus routes.
Maritime Transport
Not overlooked at all here. Respect that the SERTUC Transport Industries Network and NAUTILUS do take forward any issues and concerns about maritime transport. That are raised by the SERTUC Disabled workers Network.

TSSA says re-open ticket offices after Travelwatch report published

tssanews

Responding to the publication of Travelwatch’s Review into the impact of the ticket office closure programme on the Tube.

TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes said:

“We welcome the urgency which with London Mayor, Sadiq Khan wants to tackle the serious shortcomings identified in TravelWatch’s report. The truth is that Boris Johnson’s ill-conceived and badly executed ticket office closure programme has created many problems for passengers and for our members. Put simply, there is not enough staff on our Tube. We hope that TfL now address this without further delay.

“This report rightly highlights London’s passengers have been severely short changed by Boris Johnson’s culling of tstaff numbers on our Tube. Customer service has been thrown out of the window and the safety of passengers and staff alike has been severely compromised. We completely agree with TravelWatch’s conclusion that there must be a consistently visible staff presence in stations They also say that to do this, London Underground (LU) must introduce a focal point in every station where passengers know that staff can be located. We use to have this, it was called a Ticket Office. It’s time now for LU to reverse Boris’s short sighted and damaging closure programme and reopen the ticket offices!”

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