Solidarity with our Tube Cleaners: RMT Parliamentary demonstration & rally

Tues 29th Jan 2019
5.00pm: (sharp) Demonstration opposite Parliament (Old Palace Yard, SW1P 3JY)
6.30pm: Rally in the Houses of Parliament

London Underground’s 3000 cleaners have been outsourced to global contractor ABM. Despite working unsocial hours, in dirty and hazardous conditions, our cleaners are being treated less favourably compared to other workers directly employed by London Underground.

That means inferior sick pay, holidays, pensions and travel facilities

On top of this the cleaning workforce is set to be cut by a third from 3000 to 2000, piling the pressure on these hard-pressed workers. RMT is holding a demo and rally at Parliament to demand:
• No Cleaning Job Cuts
• Equal Conditions with London Underground workers
• Bring all cleaning work in-house.
Please show solidarity with our cleaning members on 29th January

Stop the War Activist Meeting


A Stop the War activist meeting is being held on 30 January at 7pm in the Leslie Foster Suite, Friends House Euston NW1 2BJ.


The assassination of Iranian General Soleimani by Trump brought us to the precipice of another Middle Eastern war. Although the immediate crisis has passed we still need to put maximum pressure on our government as the situation in the Middle East remains critical. 

It is clear that at any moment, either by accident or design, the Americans could lead us into a war with Iran. Such a war would have devastating repercussions throughout the region. We need to be ready to act at a moment’s notice to prevent this slide to war.

Please come along to this meeting and help us to plan the next stage in our campaign.

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Tories force through £70 garden waste charge – but please keep signing the petition!

Despite 5,159 people (82%) opposing the Council’s plan to charge £70 a year for collecting garden waste, the Tories forced this through at Environment Committee last night (quelle surprise). But please do keep supporting local residents by getting friends and family to sign our petition. In 72 hours it reached over 2,000 signatures, so we could quite easily get to 7,000 and force a Full Council debate on this to try and stop it.

You can sign or share our petition here: http://chng.it/MXTwnWxfGg

Laura Pidcock teams up with People’s Assembly to defy Johnson’s Tories

The roots of resistance exist, say campaigners, but they need to be strengthened into a movement

There is one thing of which there can be little doubt: a Tory government with a substantial Commons majority will face the labour movement with serious challenges.

In their first weeks in office Boris Johnson’s Tories have already broken up picket lines, stripped workers’ rights out of the Brexit bill, and designated climate protestors as terrorists.

No one should imagine that there isn’t more of this to come. But neither should we think that a Commons majority is the same as popular support outside Parliament.

The Tories won with the same kind of numbers that voted Labour in 2017. But they got more MPs because it takes on average just 38,000 votes to elect a Tory MP and 50,000 votes to elect a Labour MP.

The roots of resistance exist. But they need to be strengthened into a movement.

The People’s Assembly is very pleased that Laura Pidcock, one of the most powerful and effective voices in the labour movement, has committed herself to our campaign to rebuild resistance to the Tories.

‘There is real potential here’, says Laura, ‘if we campaign hard over workers’ rights, climate change, and rebuilding the services working class communities need. There is no reason why we can’t defeat Boris Johnson and most importantly the hard-right ideas he represents, building a case for a different political system and then making that happen

And while there are several theories out there about why Labour lost, almost no one argues that Labour’s radical economic and welfare policies were unpopular with voters.

The People’s Assembly believes that we have the resources and the willingness to mount the kind of fightback that working class communities desperately need. But that needs the whole of the working class movement and the left to unite together.

Trade unions, social movements, climate activists, Labour Party members and socialists…we all need to regroup, reorganise, and re-root ourselves in the communities from which we come.

Our aim is to link major mobilisations against the Tories with local work that aims to rebuild the presence of trade unions and social movements in local communities.

We need to sustain the broad vision of social transformation that has characterised the movement in the last four years but fight to reconnect it with a wider base of activists and supporters in every town and city throughout the country.

We hope you think that this is the right strategy for times that will test our mettle. 

We certainly can’t hope to make progress without your support. So please do support our work financially by donating here. But most of all forward this newsletter and ask people to sign up to keep in touch and join us in action.
Please do get in touch to tell us about your local campaigns and to discuss how links with The People’s Assembly can be developed at office@thepeoplesassembly.org.uk

Solidarity from The People’s Assembly Team.

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

Protest & Lobby Barnet Housing Committee

Come and stand with Marsh Drive Residents and demand that they get re-housed with safe, decent homes with secure tenancies. Residents of Marsh Drive on the West Hendon Estate have been served notice to quit; they have not been told where they will be moved to or if they will be given secure tenancies. Barnet Council refuse to admit that residents are being moved early because the building is unfit for human habitation!

Monday, January 27, 2020 at 6:30 PM

Hendon Town Hall, The Burroughs, NW4 4BH London, United Kingdom

Facebook event.

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.

No War on Iran – Demonstrate This Saturday

The assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani is an act of war by Donald Trump. The act was carried out in Baghdad, violating all agreements with the Iraqi government. Trump has further threatened attacks on 52 Iranian targets, including cultural sites. Iran has said it will retaliate, and there is huge opposition to this action both in Iran and Iraq, where the parliament has voted for US troops to leave.

Trump has been heading for war since tearing up the nuclear deal with Iran and if he succeeds will create a bigger war than we have seen in the Middle East. It will draw in major players across the region including Israel, Saudi Arabia and possibly Russia.

We must do everything we can to oppose war with Iran and attacks on Iraq. This begins with a public meeting in London on Wednesday and a demonstration on Saturday. Other protests and events will be taking place across the country and you can stay notified of them on our events page here.

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