Scandal of war graves’ staff facing £6,000-a-year pensions’ loss

Letter received by a Barnet Trade Unionist from a relative who works for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

As you know I work for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, what you may not know is that we’re having serious issues with our pension

Despite the promises of a decent pension at retirement the Commission wants to change it to a scheme which will leave many of us out of pocket in retirement by 1,000’s for every year we survive beyond normal retirement age.

I have been moved around many times, often against my will and with a mediocre salary but on the understanding that our pension was secure. I don’t need to go on about commitment and dedication and at my time of life there is little to no chance of making up the shortfall.

Our Unions have tried to negotiate an improvement on the proposals and have tabled many options but all have been refused. It’s got to a point now to which we have no option but to try and get public support for the work we do and put pressure on the government to intervene.

I would be most grateful if you could write to your MP asking that he/she signs this EDM, your local MP can be found here:

Or follow my unions link

Petition to: declare opposition to the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP). – London Borough of Barnet

We the undersigned petition Barnet Council to publicly declare its
    opposition to The Transatlantic Trade and Investment
    Partnership (TTIP), and to write to the Secretary of State for
    Communities, London  MEPs & the Local Government Association
    raising concerns about the impact of TTIP on local authorities

    The EU & the USA are currently negotiating the goods and
    services to which TTIP will apply. There is no impact
    assessment of effects on local authorities, and no scrutiny of,
    or consultation on, the negotiating texts by local governments
    or bodies representing them.

      The proposed Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) requires
    disputes to be settled in secret courts outside the British
    judicial system and allows no appeals. It has been used by
    corporations to overturn democratic decisions by local
    authorities. TTIP could stop councils trading with local
    businesses, as investors could challenge government actions
    they consider harmful to their investments

The London Borough of Barnet refused to allow this petition:

Petition to: declare opposition to the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP). – London Borough of Barnet

so sign this one instead!!!

UNISON General Secretary Election – ballot papers to arrive today

John4GenSec FLYER (1)

Dear Member,

The Tories are intent on destroying our welfare state, our public services and our jobs,terms and conditions.

Like Jeremy Corbyn says:“It doesn’t have to be this way” – there is an alternative to austerity.

But it’s going to take a fight. UNISON needs to punch our weight. But all too often– on pensions, on pay and on cuts –we haven’t. This election is your chance to vote for change,for: Someone to truly stand up for members; A rank and file member facing the same problems as you; A workers’ leader on a worker’s wage.

Unlike other candidates I have a proven track record, as Branch Secretary of Barnet UNISON, of organising real resistance to Tory attacks,in Maggie Thatcher’s backyard: •Working inclusively with trade unions and community groups; building coordinated action with National Gallery and Bromley strikers on Osborne’s budget day and with Care UK strikers;

• Holding back full privatisation by a flagship Tory council for seven years and retaining national pay;

•Defending facility time – so union reps can support you at work;

•Winning the Living Wage for low paid members;

•Leading Teaching Assistants and Nursery Nurses to win amongst the best pay and conditions in schools; and

•The highest recruiting branch in our region this year.

We can’t continue with the same approach at the top in UNISON. I urge you to vote for real change.

Best wishes,

John Burgess


John4GenSec FLYER (1)shadowchancellor

Serious Talk about organising at Southern & Eastern Region TUC


This Saturday, I had the good fortune to be invited along with Tirza Waisel from Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) to be among many speakers the regional TUC’s conference which was titled “Stronger Unions – Stronger Trades Councils – Stronger Communities”. The particular focus was on campaigning strategy for trades union councils, but by necessity there was also a lot to say about the huge threat posed by the Tory Trade Union Bill, to be first read before parliament on the following Monday. It was an excellent event and extremely well attended.

The first speaker was Fire Brigades Union (FBU) leader, Matt Wrack, who began by affirming his strong support for trades councils and his belief that we needed to be more involved in the TUC as whole. On the trade union bill, Wrack layed out his own views on the debate within our movement on to respond. He cautioned against any line of argument that starts with Britain’s historically low levels of strike action, describing this as apologising for strikes. The right to strike is recognised as a basic human right by the UN, and is not something to apologise for. In any case, Tory cuts policies are set to put them into conflict with millions of workers, and strikes are likely to increase because we in the unions do not have the option of doing nothing. Wrack also said that a strategy against the bill that focused on lobbying Tory MPs to try to get them not to back the government, if we do not activate the mass of union members, will not work. He finished by praising the election of Jeremy Corbyn as a socialist and pro-trades union Labour leader, slammed the unprecedented media attacks in on Labour since Corbyn’s win (including the glib, and rather surreal, way that a British Army general was allowed to uncontroversially suggest that the army might act against an elected Labour government!) and said that FBU was now debating re-affiliating to the Labour Party. FBU disaffiliated by democratic decision of the members in the early 2000s after a bitter dispute against the then “New” Labour government of Tony Blair.

Matt Wrack was followed by recently elected Labour MP for Edmonton, and parliamentary private secretary to Jeremy Corbyn, Kate Osamore. Osamore declared herself to have having been a long-time active member of the trades union movement herself, as well as a community campaigner. Her MPs office has taken on some of the functions of legal support centre for working class people in Edmonton, who are facing the same serious issues as many other communities throughout the city, particularly over housing. This, on occasion, has required her to take different view from the Labour-run council. She particularly wanted to talk to trades’ council members about her work setting up the new nation-wide campaigning organisation, Momentum. This initiative, formed directly out of the phenomenal campaign that had coalesced behind the Corbyn for Leader campaign, which seeks to get the many thousands of people who were inspired by Corbyn’s message into useful on-the-ground activism: starting with a major drive to get people registered to vote to head off Tory efforts to disenfranchise working class and ethnic minority communities. Momentum is in its formative stages, so a great deal remains to be decided about its structures, but has a lot of potential to co-operate well with trades’ councils in the communities. Kate responded to a number of questions from the floor about some concerns that some elements of the the party were acting against the clear democratic choices of membership and registered support, by undermining Corbyn and his front bench. She said that there was unfortunately factional behaviour by many more rightwing MPs, but that this is currently the biggest opportunity the anti-austerity left has and that people who support Jeremy and his ideas will be better placed to support him as Labour Party members than standing on the outside.

Antonia Bance, the TUC’s new head of campaigns and communications, addressed us on her baptism-of-fire first case for the Congress: fighting the Trade Union Bill. She has done a lot of detailed research into how the public perceives the law change and what the strongest arguments are for winning them to our side. Interestingly, the aspect of the law that most shocks people is not the question of ballot thresholds and it also not restrictions on public sector strike action. The factor that most upsets the public’s sense of fair play is actually the new measures that have been introduced to institutionalise the use of agency workers to break strikes. Added to this (and now available on the TUC’s Facebook page), Bance illustrated what she was saying with the visible distress of Tory MP Steven Crabb on the Daily Politics, as he faltered before TUC leader Frances O’Grady’s arguments against the use of agency strike breaking. Further strong arguments that Bance sought to emphasise are the 14-day build-up period to any action. She challenged us to ask a blogger if they know what they’ll be posting two weeks in advance. Bance says that the parliamentary schedule for the bill is a typical, cynical one, ending on the last day before Christmas recess. This gives us only a couple of weeks to try and stop it, though she urged everyone to take seriously the possibility that we might and to accordingly lobby Tory MPs who may turn in time.

The conference also heard from the TUC’s Young Members Network in the region, which has a new leadership who have been hosting some successful events in their localities. These included weeks of action on themes such as “Low Pay Week” and “Decent Jobs Week”, as well as a remarkably effective young persons’ registration drive in Maidstone. Getting young members to take leading roles has been very important from the point of view of having people organising who are actually living the new reality of young workers today (one Network co-chair said she had counted a staggering 14 zero-hour contracts that she had had in the past year!). They told us that November is Young Workers’ Month, and that trades councils ought to support this by finding young people to act as youth liaison officers, supporting them to hold events and getting young workers to the TUC’s Young Members’ social on Saturday November 28th.

Much of the conference, however, was reports from various member trades’ councils, which was were we from Barnet were contributing. We heard from:

  • Hastings TUC, which has established an Unemployed Workers Centre, both giving advice to unemployed workers and recruiting them into the movement. The resulting new members have enabled Unite Community to establish a brand new branch in the region. HTUC’s next new project is a multi-union learning centre in the area. Derek Hansford, speaking for HTUC, said he believed that this year’s 20th of June Peoples’ Assembly Against Austerity demonstration was the day that the new movement against austerity began in earnest.
  • Bedford & District TUC, which returned from obscurity in the wake of the the election of the Tory-LibDem government in 2010, and has had “half a decade” of struggle. Like us in Barnet, BDTUC has become a primary organiser of local demonstrations against cuts and privatisation in the area, where they previously weren’t taking place at all. They also have renewed links with the local Labour Party and pushing for more pro-trades union policies.
  • Bromley Trades Union Council, who face a radical rightwing Tory local administration that seeks to model itself on our own in Barnet! Like public sector workers in Barnet, Bromley workers have been forced to fight for their rights and the TUC has been a key source of support, as well as holding to account the toothless “scrutiny committees” that are setting up dangerously light-touch contracts with outsourced private service providers, much like our own.

Our own experiences from Barnet got a superb response, with our very effective model of the trades’ council working in a united front with, but not running or dominating, a range of democratic campaigns like BAPS and the Save Our Libraries Campaign. It was worth reflecting, despite the serious struggles we still have to wage here, on some of the things we have achieved. These include defeating the infamous Tory extremist Brian Coleman, who’s sudden downfall in 2012 is well remembered by trades unionists throughout London (particularly the FBU!).

The conference finished with a discussion about next years’ May Day events, with local groups being strongly urged to organise their own activities. Along with much else from today, this is something we must take away and discuss.

Barnet UNISON LG strike on the 2nd of November


Three reasons we are taking strike action on Monday 2nd of November

1. To promote in-house services in the face of relentless outsourcing

2. To support negotiations for greater TUPE protections for any staff facing outsourcing

3. To support all UNISON members & protect all of our terms & conditions.


2nd of November day Picket line information:

1. Barnet House—From 7 am Picket Line Coordinator: Helen Davies 07432733168

2. Mill Hill Depot—From 6 am Picket Line Coordinator: John Burgess 07738389569

3. Edgware Library—From 9 am Picket Line Coordinator: Hugh Jordan 07983391740



Lobby of Parliament

Trade Union lobby of Parliament against the outsourcing in Barnet and the Anti-Trade Union Bill on the 2nd of November.

Assemble at 12 noon Parliament Square opposite Big Ben at the Barnet UNISON banner.

download (4)


If you want further information contact the branch on: Barnet UNISON, Barnet House, 1255 High Road, Whetstone, N20 0EJ Tel: 020 8359 2088

Protect the Right to Strike Lobby – 2 November


This November MPs will vote on the government’s controversial trade union bill, which threatens the basic right to strike for UK workers. 

Shortly before the vote, on the afternoon of Monday 2 November, hundreds of people from all over the country will gather in London to meet their MPs. This is a big opportunity to make sure our MPs hear directly from people worried by the government’s plans to undermine the right to strike and to restrict pickets and protests.

We’re working to make the whole process as easy as possible, and will support constituents all the way.  Following a nearby rally at 1pm in Westminister Central Hall, you’ll go with others to see your local MP in the House of Commons, to be followed by a demonstration at 5pm outside Parliament.

Why are we lobbying? 

As part of the TUC’s campaign to stop the government’s trade union bill we want MPs to hear directly from their constituents that the bill threatens the right to strike.  Employers will be able to break strikes by bringing in agency workers to cover for strikers. This could risk public safety and impact on the quality of services.  And the bill also proposes new heavy-handed restrictions on picketing and protests. Threatening the right to strike tilts the balance in the workplace too far towards the employers- and that will mean workers can’t stand up for decent services and safety at work, or defend their jobs or pay.

Every MP should recognise that their constituents have a right to lobby them whether or not you voted for them. You can lobby your MP either in Parliament or at the constituency surgery which most MPs will organise on a regular basis. If they don’t have regular surgeries, they will usually list a phone number on their website where you can make an appointment to see them.

Meeting your MP

If you are coming to the lobby on the 2 November you should contact your MP in advance. The best way to contact your MP is to write to him or her at the House of Commons, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA. Most MPs also use email, and should treat emails in the same manner as a letter. You can find out your MP’s email address at the following website:

Follow the links to MPs and Lords and then find your MP.  All MPs have already received a letter from the TUC about the lobby, so should be aware of the event. So keep your letter simple and polite, perhaps just stating that you will be coming, asking for a meeting. It is always useful to make it clear in the letter that you are a constituent of the MP. It is also worth giving your MP your mobile number, if you have one. This may help them track you down on the day.  You can also suggest meeting your MP in the Committee Room allocated to your region.

Will you join us?

If you’d like to join us and meet your MP in Westminster, or if you’re interested to hear more, sign up below and we’ll keep you in the loop with the latest information and actions you can take.



Barnet TUC and the Barnet Alliance for Public Services are putting on transport to get to Manchester to join the nationwide protests against Tory austerity and attacks on workers’ rights on Sunday the 4th of October.

There will be three pick-up points:

  1. 6:45 AM: Finchley Central
  2. 7 AM: Hendon Central
  3. 7.15 AM: Mill Hill Broadway

Tickets are £15 for waged people, and £1 unwaged (plus donations if you can afford it).

Contact Barnet UNISON Tel. 020 8359 2088 Fax: 020 8446 5245 Email:

Demo called by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity and the Trades Union Congress.

Barnet autumn conference for local campaigners


Dear friends and fellow activists,

BAPS is planning a Barnet autumn conference for local campaigners on Sunday 22 November, titled #OurBarnet #OurServices #OurFuture.

We all learn daily how important solidarity is. Our experience of campaigning in Barnet proves that the different campaigns, even the single-issue ones, are all linked. From housing, through protecting our immediate or borough-wide environment to defending our public libraries, schools, social services and other public services, and whether we are residents or workers in Barnet, we find ourselves sympathising with the aims of other local or less local campaigns, supporting them and needing their support. Meeting others who feel strongly about the issue they are campaigning on is empowering and the networks built through these acquaintances and shared experiences are effective.

The objective of this conference therefore is to bring together all of us who are campaigning on different issues in Barnet, to discuss the questions that people from all the campaigns want to explore, as well as campaigning questions such as:

  • what worked?
  • why did it work?
  • what did not work?
  • Why? What went wrong?
  • what do we need to skill up?
  • Or any other burning issue that needs brainstorming and answers, as will come up in the meeting.

We would like you to organise and host this conference jointly with us. It will be facilitated in the Open Space format that proved hugely successful and truly empowering in a big public meeting that we held last November, hosted jointly by BAPS, Barnet Housing Group and Our West Hendon.
Organising and facilitating this with us is a training opportunity that we offer you, to learn this effective way of running democratic discussions. It will equip you with skills that you can later use elsewhere. Please check out what is the Art of Hosting here.
We are fortunate to have an experienced facilitator, Paulette Singer of Clitterhouse Farm Project and Our West Hendon, (Paulette is a community organiser previously at West Hendon estate) and 3 other experienced Open Space ‘hosts’ helping us to facilitate this conference.
In the Housing meeting last November it provided space for a democratic, open and thorough discussion in which everyone could contribute, and the ‘harvest’ (results) of which were the community’s submission to the Housing Commission that took place later that year. [I attach this document here to give you a flavour of how it looks and what can be achieved].

I would like to invite you to a planning meeting (probably one of 2 or 3), on Wednesday 30 September at 12 noon. The venue of this meeting will depend on how many of us are participating, so please let me know ASAP if you or someone from your group are interested in principle, and whether you can make it to this meeting.

Hope to hear from you soon,

Tirza, BAPS (07534-407703)

Want Revenge on IDS but not able to travel to Manchester in October? Help sponsor an activist who can » DPAC


Want Revenge on IDS but not able to travel? Help sponsor an activist who can

The Conservative Party Conference is taking place at Manchester in October.  DPAC are organising two protests on Monday 5th and Wednesday 7th October during the week of the Tory party conference actions, and would like to support as many DPAC members to come to Manchester and attend our demonstrations, the details of the actions can be found here   and there is a day of planning Tory protest workshops to prepare for the DPAC actions taking place in Manchester on Saturday 12th September


Many of our members need additional support in order to travel and take part in a protest. The coaches being supplied by the Peoples’ Assembly for travel to Manchester are not accessible for many disabled people, and accessible coaches are incredibly expensive and have space for one wheelchair user.


Many of our disabled members will not be able to access the church hall that has been provided for the week of actions during the Tory Party Conference by the Peoples Assembly as it will not be adapted to meet disabled people’s access needs, and many of our members will require accessible hotel accommodation with facilities adapted for wheelchair users and others.


DPAC meet members travel costs when travelling to a DPAC protest so that as many disabled people who wish to travel to participate in our protests are able to do so.   We have £2,000 put aside to assist with travel and hotel accommodation, but this will only assist 10-12 disabled people to get to Manchester.   We need your support with a donation to help us support as many disabled people travel to Manchester and take part in the DPAC action themed IDS Wanted for Crimes Against Disabled People on Monday 5th October.


Would you be able to make a donation and support getting DPAC to Manchester?

You can Donate via Paypal using the button below, send a cheque made payable to DPAC, or arrange a BACS transfer. Please for details of the last two options

Want Revenge on IDS but not able to travel? Help sponsor an activist who can

Barnet UNISON LG 24 hour strike on 7th October

Barnet UNISON LG members who still work for Barnet Council (excluding community schools) will begin a 24 hour strike action on Wednesday 7 October



The dispute involves social workers, coach escorts, drivers, occupational therapists, schools catering staff, education welfare officers, library workers, children centre workers, street cleaning & refuse workers, all of whom have made it clear they want to remain employees of Barnet Council and don’t want to be outsourced.

Barnet Council is about to agree a number of outsourcing and cuts across a number of council committees over the next four months which would see the number of staff employed by the council reduced to less than 300.

The outsourcing of services is Barnet Council’s response to austerity policies which have resulted in council budgets being cut by 40% by 2020. It is a deliberate ideological attack on public services which punishes our members and limits access to public services for the most vulnerable in our society. Barnet Council announced a few weeks ago that Meals on Wheels will cease as from 1 April 2016, which is another sign of how pernicious austerity fundamentalist policies are to those in most need

On 2 October the Council will publish a report on the future of the library service which is seeking to reduce the staff budget by 68%. This will, in effect, destroy our wonderful public library services.

At our recent Kids4Libraries march Jeremy Corbyn, now Leader of Labour Party said: ‘First I want to add my apologies to the event and the huge admiration for Barnet UNISON. I want to send a message of support to John Burgess & the Save Barnet Libraries campaign for their tireless & inspirational community campaign to protect their local Library service. I would encourage everyone to join their Kids4Libraries this Saturday 12 September. Barnet Council are determined to outsource all of their services I salute Barnet UNISON & the community campaign for their ongoing fight to defend public services.’


Picket Lines will be:

  • Barnet House from 7 am.
  • Mill Hill Depot—Starts 6 am onward.
  • East Finchley Library—Start 9 am onward.

A rally will be held outside Barnet House at 12 noon

UNISON Branch Secretary John Burgess said: “Our members want to work for the Council, they want to be directly accountable to the residents of Barnet. Our members don’t want to work for an employer which will have to place the shareholders’ legal demands before local residents’ needs. Our members don’t want to work for an employer which uses zero hours contracts. Our members don’t want to work for an employer which will not pay the London Living Wage as a basic minimum. Our members don’t want to work for an employer which won’t allow their colleagues to belong to their Pension Scheme, and our members don’t want to work for an employer which will take jobs out of the borough. That’s why87% of our members working for the Council voted ‘Yes’ to taking strike action. So far the Council has failed to come close to agreeing to any one of these demands. One of our members has written and produced a music campaign video called “UNISON Army” which pretty much sums up the mood of our members take a look 



Contact details: John Burgess Barnet UNISON on 07738389569 or 0208 359 2088 or email:


Six years ago Barnet Council introduced a policy known as Future Shape which morphed into ‘easyCouncil’*.This imposed a series of tariffs on residents wishing to access a range of services. A basic service would be offered to residents at a fixed price, but ‘fast track’ services might be available if you paid extra.

This approach was quickly abandoned by the consultant driven One Barnet Programme, which led to the following Council Services being outsourced/privatised in the space of three years:

  1. Social Care for Adults with disabilities to Your Choice Barnet
  2. Housing Options to Barnet Homes
  3. Parking Services to NSL
  4. Revenues & Benefits, IT, HR & Payroll, Pensions, Health & Safety, Finance, Estates, Property Services, Procurement, Projects all now part of Capita CSG
  5. Environmental Health, Planning, Building Control, Hendon Cemetery & Crematorium, Highways, Trading Standards & Licensing all now Capita RE
  6. Legal Services
  7. Registrars & Nationality Services
  8. CCTV
  9. Music Trust
  10. Public Health
  11. Mortuary Services.

Over the past three years our members have seen hundreds of colleagues transferred to other employers. This has often meant redundancy as the new employer moved jobs out of the borough and Greater London to places as far afield as Belfast, Carlisle, Coventry, Southampton and Darlington.

Barnet has branded this final phase as the ‘Commissioning Council’.

On 3 March 2015 Barnet Council agreed its next Five Commissioning Plans all of which are looking at ‘Alternative Delivery Models’, jargon for working for a different employer.

The Council Services now at risk of outsourcing are:

  • Early Years – 13 Children’s Centres
  • Library Services
  • Adults & Communities services
  • Street Scene Services e.g. Waste & Recycling, Street Cleansing, Parks and Transport
  • Education & Skills and School Meals services.

Disappearing Council – short animation


“The easyCouncil Loco-motion”



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