Monday, 2 June 2014

Guest Blog - Support the Your Choice Barnet Support Workers by John Sullivan

By John Sullivan, 

The reality of the lie that is " Your Choice Barnet " is exposed today in its purest form, the honest opinions of the workers that were allowed by their trade union Unison to voice an opinion and have a democratic vote  denied to them  by YCB and Barnet councillors have now spoken . YCB which is the front for our local Tory councillors campaign against the disabled, actions that have been decimating support services for disabled people in Barnet for the past four years, whilst councillors lined their own  pockets with huge rises in allowances. Councillors who then play games with council tax for political gain that is indirectly being funded by wage cuts such as this one, to the further detriment of disabled people and disability support services.
The small percentage of long term care  workers that still remain in Barnet and allowed to participate in a strike ballot to protect their wages , from the ravages of the failed Your Choice Barnet business plans. Have voted by 100% to take strike action in order to protect the quality of life of themselves, their families and their clients, and stop the cut to their already low incomes. In my opinion they deserve the support of the people of Barnet , and not the right wing anti union abuse  that is the bread and butter of Cornelius and his very much reduced right wing gang that is to be expected from that direction , hence my reason for writing this blog.
YCB have claimed to have meaningfully consulted the parents and carers of YCB clients " A LIE "  they have claimed they have meaningfully consulted care & support workers and that is also " A LIE ", they have not "meaningfully" consulted anybody.  Let's get it right for public consumption they recently held a Task & Finish Group enquiry into Your Choice Barnet that was promised time , truth and transparency by Cllr Hugh Rayner, a man that has proven to be a stranger to the concepts of  time on such an important issue, and the definitions of truth and transparency , he appears not to understand the meaning of the words, But let's not forget this dishonest whitewash this farce of an enquiry organised by Cllr Rayner was aided and abetted by Labour councillors.
Labour councillors who subsequently claimed they were hoodwinked by the Tories on the committee and fooled into supporting a decision they did not support, because they did not quite grasp the rules. The same rules the current incumbent  labour leader claims to be an expert on, by  trying to cling onto power  for another year to advise the new intake of Labour councillors on the rules, that she apparently didn't know then but  claims to know now . Rather than doing the decent thing  and resigning , on the reasonable basis of three strikes and you're out. To  allow  the new blood to choose a more positive and inclusive direction with Barnet residents than the path she chose, that has led to her losing three elections. However that aside they collectively agreed not to consult with one single parent or family carer, or one single care and or support worker in camera. They simply took the questionable word on every issue from those with a vested interest at YCB,  which when you think about it is simply the opinions of Tory councillors anyway, which made the enquiry a complete and utter farce. Those at the head of YCB also have no concept of the definition of the words consultation, truth or transparency, a group who fire the bullets for our incumbent Tory councillors whilst claiming to have consulted whilst refusing to consult.
YCB clients are individuals with complex and serious individual needs and dishonest tick box exercises that can be interpreted in any way you wish that YCB & Cornelius and co insist upon, do not with such complex groups of people constitute meaningful consultation, anymore than meetings with parents and carers that are titled " Information Meetings " then subsequently and miraculously converted by the lie machine that is YCB/ Barnet Council into " Meaningful Consultations ".
Every trick in the book has been used from day one of the concept of YCB being given birth, from blatant ignorance, arrogance, contempt and to what some might call blatant lies and intimidation,  ensuring that meaningful consultation with parents/ family carers has never taken place  to date. Presumably in order to cover up the truth, to cover up the lie that is YCB, a company run by our Tory councillors at arm's length, a company with a business plan A that failed resulting in YCB having to loan £ 1 million from Barnet taxpayers to survive, who then again without consultation forced through business plan B, based in many ways on failed Plan A that is also failing , and quite clearly and without ambiguity or embarrassment places the needs of profit before the needs of disabled people.
So the uncaring members of our incumbent Tory council and those that fire the bullets for them at YCB led by the highly paid Tracey Lees ( I wonder as an aside, how many times you need to multiply a care workers wages about to be cut , in order to equal that of  Tracy Lees or Kate Kennally for example ?? ),who have  decided the only way we can get out of debt is to attack the wages of the workers .Which is the standard practise of outsourcing companies such as Capita that now runs Barnet virtually lock stock and barrel , and that includes fingers in the IT pie of Your Choice Barnet. In fact  Capita have fingers in every pie in Barnet no matter whether you are alive or dead as their antics at Hendon Cemetery prove beyond a doubt. So no matter whether you are dead,  able bodied ,or physically disabled, no matter whether you are physically handicapped or mentally handicapped you represent one thing and one thing only, you are a market place commodity. You are a source of or a potential source for profit for the shareholders of Capita, who no doubt have their greedy eyes on taking over YCB when the comedy of errors YCB call a business plan collapses completely within the next few months , as predicted from the outset by the so called know nothing trade unions, along with other experts in this field .
What Capita also do I am advised by contacts around the country is hand pick the trade union they wish to deal with in any particular area rather than a particular union, so they can be seen as cooperating with trade unions, but that is only half of the story that is only a part of the truth. What they apparently do  and I have no idea whether or not this is true, is they select the local trade union representative that is the laziest and more concerned with his/her own job than the rights of his/her trade union members, and side with that person. Turning their annoyance and bile towards local trade union representatives, that are actively and democratically fighting for the employment and human rights of their members. Which in Barnet would be a challenge between Unison & GMB, and as it would appear Unison are far more active in Barnet than GMB,  I will watch this space closely to see if the Unison people get a bad time from Capita & our Tory councillors, whilst the GMB union are left alone, only then will the truth of this rumour be firmly established.
Just for the record, I am not and have never been an active member of a Trade union in my life, when I was a steeplejack years back I joined the Steeplejacks' Federation, and when I was in the film industry for a  period I became a member of NATKE because it was a condition of employment. So I know little about trade unions but a lot about some trade unionists, that contrary to the lie machines of Conservative administrations both local and national and the likes of the right wing buffoon Boris, and the right wing press they are not all reds under the bed.

The trade unionists I know that this proposed strike is about are special people , folk with a special characteristic, an ability to care for the disabled the mentally handicapped the most vulnerable people in society, disabled people our incumbent government and local Tories have branded scroungers, or as our newly re-elected Tory Hale Ward councillor Tom Davey has described them on Face book, when referring to  benefit claimants without excluding these groups, " benefit scrounging  scum " (BSc) & " lazy bastards " .
My disabled(  BSc )daughter is nearly 51 years old and has been supported by these so called evil trade unionists and others since she first went to school at 15, they have proven their worth to our family and every family blessed with a disabled child time without number, in many ways they are beyond price. We value the gift they have, the natural ability to care for the less fortunate, a gift we are sadly not all blessed with,  a gift that should be valued if people cared about the quality of life of YCB clients. But the reality is neither the directors of YCB who enthusiastically apply the instructions handed down to them , or the  Tory councillors that hand down those instructions, care about their quality of life as confirmed recently by councillors Hart & Gordon. A quality of life that whether Cllrs Hart or Gordon like it or not , is dependent on the quality of care you receive , which is in turn dependent on the qualities and skills of the person caring for you, that in turn is dependent on the impact of the personal circumstances of the care worker caring for you.
It is a vicious circle that cannot be resolved with bogus tick box exercises, the simple fact of the matter is if you decimate the working conditions and incomes of the care workers, the moods and anxieties of those workers drip drip down into the quality of care being received by the YCB clients, and an unhappy work force as we all know is not an efficient or committed workforce. The outcome being ,the quality of the service no matter if it is somebody pulling a pint in a pub or caring for my daughter and her peers is bound to suffer, that is a simple fact of life .
However that is not the way our Tory councillors see the issue or for that matter the directors of YCB, they believe that any Tom Dick or Harry can care for the vulnerable, they see no need for special skills or proper long term training, or long-term stability of relationships between carers & clients, or the need for a community hub, all they concern themselves with is the bottom line the balance sheet. Remember YCB clients are a market place commodity to " These People ",  they are not disabled they are a source of profit , and the more disabled the more the potential for profit, hence the reason the more profitable services have escaped major trauma to date. The strategy being , if you play your cards right and decimate the working conditions and wages of their support workers, and that is exactly what they have done, and standard practise for companies such as Capita, you can turn the personal tragedies of the disabled into a viable long term  profit making machine , putting profit before people, and greed before need.
 An example of which is the horror of Winterbourne View back in the news on Saturday, that showed beyond a doubt that the standard response for private companies when refusing to answer  the concerns of parents & family carers is the same one Capita can now use  to Barnet residents ." Sorry we can refuse to answer that question on the grounds it is contractually sensitive ", a response that covered up  the horror that was and remains the ongoing horror story of Winterbourne View  .Which sadly  still continues even today three years after the exposure by the BBC , because many of the residents of Winterbourne View have not yet been re -settled, apparently the quality of their lives is not a priority for this rotten government of ours, led by two men who between them would not recognise the truth if it bit them on the butt namely Cameron & Clegg.
These special people that have voted for strike action, these carers for the vulnerable do not call for strike action without good reason, their lives like ours are filled with  their needs and wants. Do they want to strike ?,  no of course they do not, do they want to neglect their clients ?,  no they do not, do they want the additional stress and intimidation from employers that strike action brings about ? , of course not,  However what they need to be able to do is live a decent life and pay their bills which many can no longer do, because without concern consideration or consultation our uncaring councillors have instructed YCB directors to slash the wages of YCB care & support staff no matter the consequences, in order to try to  balance the books of their busted flush company Your Choice Barnet . Leaving many workers I repeat yet again, struggling to pay their bills, some can no longer even dream about taking an annual holiday never mind think about a holiday, many of them have been thrown on the breadline by this suicidal activity
I say suicidal because it is suicidal, disabled people  are recognised in law as people with a special characteristic and after nearly 51 years at the coal face , my wife and I along with many other parents know and I repeat it again, that competent carers and support works are also people with a special characteristic, they are a rare breed they are not the any Tom Dick & Harry that the likes of councillors such as Cornelius , Rajput,  Hart, Gordon & Davey among others would have you believe.
 Driving them out of the care industry and replacing them with expensive agency staff and zero hours  staff along with any Tom Dick & Harry will eventually result in the Barnet version of Winterbourne View, and you can take that to the bank.  Sadly due to the lack of transparency and the refusal to consult I can only be guided by rumours, but the rumours suggest we are heading towards a Winterbourne View in Barnet at a rapid pace, where established long term workers both directly employed and as and when staff ,are leaving and being replaced with expensive agency and zero hours workers that simply do not have the same long term commitment to the clients. There is also a question about the economics of letting long term staff go, and replacing them with the potentially more expensive possibly long term agency staff.
Please do not allow yourself to be blinded by the right wing rhetoric that puts every trade unionist into the Arthur Scargill pigeon hole, these special people these carers with a special characteristic deserve the support of the people of Barnet in this proposed strike. To stop their already low pay being cut even lower, in some cases I repeat yet again below the level that they can reasonably be expected to exist and pay their bills, they are not demanding a pay rise they are simply trying to protect the low pay they barely survive on now. Please also spare a thought for the union representatives that are coordinating this unwanted strike action, and ensure they are not subjected to intimidation and threats because they are defending two of the basic principle of our democracy, the right to be heard and the right to withdraw your labour if you feel you are being ill treated. They are not Arthur Scargills either , some are also care workers that care passionately about the quality of life of their clients, along with the quality of life of their members, both at risk from this unwarranted wage cut and should not be hounded for  choosing the democratic route of strike action as a last resort, which is exactly what it  is, a last resort.

In many ways these care workers are irreplaceable as YCB are rapidly finding out , and their exodus from Barnet is posing a threat to the longer term planning provision of quality support services and quality of life of their  clients, that also threatens the long term well being of  other disabled people in Barnet  both young and old, so my question to the people of Barnet is simple.
 When these special people have all been driven out of Barnet by this blind ideology and dogma to other boroughs that respect their abilities and qualities and skills, and do not treat them like dirt as they are being treated in Barnet. Who will care for our disabled folk and ensure their quality of life, and I ask the question that so many other parents are asking, as the parent  of a 51 year old daughter who will need the support of these special people  " What Will happen To My Susan When I Die " . if this ill thought through, suicidal and ongoing ideological and dogmatic attack on support services for disabled people in Barnet is allowed to continue, without compassion, debate or meaningful consultation, where will it all end.
Please support this YCB care workers strike , just remember in a few minutes, hours, days,  weeks , months or perhaps years  time, it could be you or a member of your family needing the special talents and skills of these special people. That are being treated like dirt by your local councillors, and they will not be there to offer you the hand of friendship , compassion and support you will desperately need.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If the Directors & Management of YCB , had Any morals & standard,s they themselves would also take the cuts to there Wages as they Expect of there staff , & of course they Don't , what we should Expect is for them to set an Example & what Do we get Greed & shear Arrogance , in just Like Our Tory Councillors !!!! If they ( YCB ) are that clever , let them Live in the real World !! IE they want to Be a private company , But us the Tax Payer take all the Risk . As Directors & Executives they should also take the Risk with the Reward !!!!!