LSE University cleaners to strike every week, indefinitely until they win equality

qVprSWvTCoXwiLl-fullsizeMigrant workers at the London School of Economics University begin indefinite programme of strike action over unequal treatment and terms and conditions on 11 May. An almost entirely migrant workforce of outsourced cleaners is about to embark on an indefinite programme of strike action over the LSE’s refusal to grant them simple equality with their in-house counterparts. Read more here.

Messages of Solidarity for “Barnet Two” email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

18342733_10155078055521206_1978186995523180223_nPLEASE SUPPORT.

As a result of consultation we have now learnt that the two welfare rights workers (now to be referred to as the “Barnet Two”) are not being sacked in order to make CUTS, they are being sacked because vulnerable families will get a better service without them!

Before I address the issue of why it is so wrong to sack the Welfare Rights workers I want to highlight this scene in Ken Loach’s BAFTA Award winning film “I, Daniel Blake”

This scene shows the daily humiliating life experiences people in need are facing.

I’m referring to this scene, because the Barnet Council proposal is to move away from helping to sign posting. It sounds good in the highly paid consultancy circle world. BUT the grim reality this is not just a cut for two workers it is a cruel cut that will deny access to the vital information, advocacy and support for the most vulnerable families in Barnet.

Before Barnet UNISON found out that this was NOT a financial saving, we would have referred the Council back to the uncontrollable Agency/consultancy worker costs which have gone from a round £7.3 million in 2012 to 19.8 million by March 2017.

“I have heard of Barnet Council’s sackings of welfare rights officers and the closure of job centres. Does the Council have any idea of the cruelty of the treatment of vulnerable people? The DWP’s procedures are set up to trap and punish those who need support and advice. By these cuts, the Council is colluding in this conscious brutality. In solidarity, Ken Loach.”

On behalf of the Barnet Two and our branch I would like to once again thank Ken for his message of solidarity and support for the “Barnet Two” and his condemnation of the planned closures of job centres in Barnet.

“Why will this proposal cause hard to vulnerable families?”

In the past seven years there have been many changes in the way Advice in the London Borough of Barnet has been delivered.

The following organisations have either closed down or no longer do Welfare Rights Advice.

  1. Welfare Rights Unit (Barnet Council)
  2. Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has closed five of their offices (a) Avenue House (b) Grahame Park (c) Finchley (d) Edgware Hospital (e) Dollis Valley hub. Currently, the New Barnet Office is only open on Mondays morning and is due to totally shut in October 2017. The only remaining CAB is the Hendon one which is also only opened three days a weeks
  3. CAB also used to operate a home visiting service which has also ceased.
  4. Barnet Law Service (Dealt with Welfare Rights Appeals)
  5. Mary Ward Legal Services (Dealt with Welfare Rights Appeals)
  6. East Barnet Advice Services
  7. Disability Action in the Borough of Barnet
  8. Mencap (substantially reduced service since 2013) This service refer to the two Welfare Rights workers for Appeals and complex cases
  9. Jewish Deaf Association Barnet (substantially reduce services now drop in sessions only on Tuesdays morning for people with hearing impairment)
  10. Mind Barnet
  11. Due to the Legal Aid cuts no Solicitors in Barnet do Welfare Rights Appeals.

The two Welfare Rights workers are the only service that still provides comprehensive/ impartial benefits Advice up to Appeals level in Barnet. Both statutory and non-statutory organisations refer to the above workers.

In consultation it has been put to Barnet UNISON that the service could be picked up by other organisations. What is clear is that the report does not appear to know what is being provided out there in our community.

Below are some of the organisation mentioned who could pick up the work left as a result of sacking the two welfare rights workers.

  1. Welfare Rights Task Force – Benefit Advisors only support clients affected by the benefit CAP and assist them with income and expenditure in order for them to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment
  2. Employment Advisors do not specialise on welfare benefits, their remit is employment
  3. Shelter specialise in Housing and debts. They do not provide Welfare Rights Advice
  4. DWP is unable to help the majority of our clients as there may be a conflict of interest. We support client in taking cases to the Tribunal against DWP. There would be a conflict of interest, should the DWP provide welfare benefits advice. Welfare Benefit Advice exists to ensure that clients are made aware of their legal rights and represented in the event of disputes and maladministration of benefits.

Next actions:
On Tuesday 9 May at the Family Services JNCC Barnet UNISON declared a ‘failure to agree’ in response to the proposed sacking of the two welfare rights workers.

The matter has now been escalated to a meeting chaired by the Chief Executive.

If the proposal to sack the workers is not withdrawn the matter will be raised at General Functions Committee on 28 June where we will address the Leader of the Council.

Solidarity
John Burgess
Branch Secretary
Barnet UNISON

Messages of support and solidarity to contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

May’s Meeting

We will be meeting this Thursday 11th of May as usual, at 7pm in the Greek Cypriot Brotherhood, North Finchley.

Proposed agenda:

7pm – Apologies and attendance

7.15pm – Minutes and matters arising

7.30pm – How can the Trades Council help with the elections?

8pm – Delegate’s Reports

8.15pm – Any other business

The Barnet Alliance for Public Services will have a brief meeting beforehand at 6.30pm.

Report from the Stop the War Coalition:

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Delegates and members from around the country discussed the growing push to war being led by the Trump administration and backed enthusiastically by Theresa May’s government.

The conference provided some in-depth analysis of the situation in the Middle East, the Asia Pacific, and Britain’s growing involvement in a series of wars. It also agreed that given the desperately dangerous situation, we need to strengthen and grow our organisation as a matter of urgency.

A series of action points for groups were discussed. Here are some of them.

  • Make sure every group is out campaigning. Obvious things to do at the moment are to use the petition against Trump’s push to war or to end the special relationship. But be imaginative and ambitious – try organising a street meeting around breaking with Trump’s foreign policy for example.
  • Put on an election hustings with your local candidates taking questions about issues related to war.
  • Organise regular public meetings and briefings. Obvious subjects include No to Trump’s drive to war. A short history of the special relationship and why we should end it. Britain’s seven secret wars: Why we need a new foreign policy.
  • Put on cultural/music events. Anti-war film showings are very popular at the moment. Our Stop the War film screenings at Sands Film Studios in London are a big hit. We Are Many screenings always draw a crowd. Last Friday more than 400 people packed a Drop Bass Not Bombs rave in Peckham. Upcoming in London is a night of readings of Howard Zinn and others at the Park Theatre. Put on similar events where you are.
  • Recruit people to Stop the War. We need to grow our networks fast. Getting new members helps to involve new activists in organising and provides much needed resources for the office.
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