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Major Pay Dispute Could Result In Children's Homes' Closures

Tuesday November 5 2013




CHILDREN'S homes could close if staff involved in a six-year pay dispute demand what they're owed now, unions have been warned.

The non-payment of weekend enhancements and shift allowances - which could total £200,000 - came to light when changes were made to council staff's terms and conditions of employment earlier this year.

Paperwork shows some staff are owed thousands of pounds in non-payments - going back up to six years.

According to union UNISON, the council's assistant chief executive for human resources, Julia Bell, has said that if employees receive full, backdated payment now, the children's residential home service, which runs three homes, wouldn't be viable as there's no money available to fund payment.

UNISON representative Brian Steele said they're still in discussions with the council to try and resolve the issue 'satisfactorily'.

He said: "It could pose serious risk to the service's future. All council services are emotive to people and we want to resolve any outstanding issues to keep these vital services.

"No overall agreement has been reached but individuals are aware of what's owed to them."

When asked if the council had put forward its settlement proposals, Mr Steele said discussions had taken place but they were 'ongoing'.

A spokeswoman for Barnsley Council confirmed it's still in discussions with staff and the trade unions involved - GMB and UNISON.

She added: "There are three children's residential homes that could be affected."

UNISON's proposal to settle the issue is for each employee's back-pay entitlement to be calculated by the council, going back up to six years, but for the payment to be deferred until their employment is terminated, either by the council or through them leaving for another job, rather than being paid now.

It says this would avoid any sudden financial impact that could jeopardise jobs or future viability of the service, as well as meet members' wishes to safeguard jobs and secure fair financial compensation.

However, it's understood the council's position is that a settlement will only be possible if all employees are in agreement.

If not, the council may default to a position where each employee receives their full back-pay entitlement now which would 'almost certainly result in its children's homes closing or being out sourced', UNISON said.

A UNISON newsletter says: "UNISON does not consider this to be an idle threat as we are actually aware that the council needs to cut £18million from its budget next year.

"It would be disastrous if a settlement were scuppered because some individuals want their back-pay now."

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31 Showing 31 comments

Reply Posted by ET on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 14:14
Here we go again!! we can't afford to settle a pay dispute, but we can afford a new arena, what is up with Barnsley Council, GET YOUR PRIORITIES RIGHT!! it involves children here!!

Reply Posted by king louis on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 14:27
MPs are all getting a £10,000 pay rise because they haven't had a wage rise recently and its counted as back pay (money owed).... so the rich group get richer and the poor group get poorer...

Reply Posted by Mum of three on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 14:55
Sensitive.
The staff at these homes do a fantastic job with minimal resource.
They deserve the money they have worked for.
I don't think the headline is fair to the staff that work in these places.
It is as though they should take the blame if the homes close due to them taking money they have worked hard for.
Just like ET said - Children are involved here.
Barnsley council need to appreciate the work that is being done here, there aren't many people out there that would put their hearts and souls into working with children that have difficulties or are born into families that are incapable of looking after them for what ever reason.
I dread to think what these children have already been through with out having this hung over them after probably feeling secure and safe for the first time in their lives.
Again, like ET said " Get your priorities right "

Reply Posted by dedatodd on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 15:37
Could someone explain this - 'or being out sourced', I assume this means that 'private' companies will be brought in? Surely this will means the council / government / tax payer has to pay a private (for profit) organisation to run the homes - not cheap so how will this be afforded?
I think the Union have been very pragmatic in their approach on payment being deferred to the end of employment.
These people deserve to get what is owed to them, just imagine not paying the armed forces back pay - it would cause a massive media frenzy.... The cynic in me thinks scare mongering!

Reply Posted by dedatodd on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 15:38
Isn't this the tactic used against the unions in Graingemouth?

Reply Posted by Ged on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 16:31
Staff should receive their entitlement, paying the rate for the job should not be negotiable. If an error has occurred, steps should be made to rectify it, not ignore it, then have your 'stewards inquiry'.

Reply Posted by STEVEO on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 18:37
Totally agree.

Reply Posted by Aidan on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 21:18
If the children's homes close then obviously we need a new council, screwing people out of their wage is too commonplace these days, they should be made to pay in full what is owed to the workers, if not then a lawsuit should follow for even more money. Barnsley council have money to rent a piece of scrap metal outside the town hall and to turn the town hall into a shitty museum, but not to pay it's workers? yeah ok sounds fair

Reply Posted by Hoyland Red on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 22:07
Aidan, where does it say that the Council will not pay the enhanced payments that the workers are owed??? It's a matter of how it is paid that's the issue. If someone wants it all upfront then it appears that the Council will pay everyone upfront and this will impinge on being able to provide this service. The ball is firmly in the court of the workers and Unions as to what they wish to do - action and consequence.

Reply Posted by m on Wednesday November 6 2013 at 14:51
if the boot was on the other foot would they let people pay their unpaid rent when they move out or would they want it back in regular instalments or lump sum. As for workers and Unions being responsible for the closures of childrens homes if they want their money now, you can add Supported Living (Adult Services ) into the closures as well because the council has been running on money owed to that service as well with the same threat. At this rate we won't need a council as there will be no services for the council to run. The council is spending money it can't afford, hasn't got on things we don't need like statues, doing town hall up, new Arena's, huge pay increase for chief executive position, etc. because it looks good and justifies their exorbitant wages

Reply Posted by Hoyland Red on Wednesday November 6 2013 at 22:03
.... and yet it is the Union that are proposing deferred payment the representatives of the employees. It appears to me that the Council and Unions can see the gravitas of the situation yet comments on here are the usual flippant remarks about Council spending in other service areas that have no bearing on how this service is provided. Taking money from one area to pay for another doesn't solve the problem.

Reply Posted by STEVEO on Thursday November 7 2013 at 14:20
TOTALLY AGREE HR.


Reply Posted by laugh on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 21:46
there can,t pay wages for decent hardworking people,but yet pat £11.000 a month to the consultant,get rid of the councillors in charge of this fiasco..

Reply Posted by sid on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 22:18
After the theft of money at Brierley and now this massive mistake,just who the hell is doing the calculations for the council??
Just what is going on with our money? Why is it these errors have to get so out of hand before they come to light? Are there anymore yet to unfold? Heads should roll.

Reply Posted by sally on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 22:24
Typical, diabolical attitude. Why should the work force have to wait for their pay, without feeling guilty about services been cut and the kids being affected. Get it sorted, surely theres money in the pot to pay them. If there is not then it would would be wise not to build the arena. I THINK ITS TWADDLE. Its emotional blackmail on the staff, the real workers who care. DISGUSTING.

Reply Posted by Therealkilkenny on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 22:24
Well said Sid.The council seem to just waste money.Somebody must be at fault.But guess what the council will sweep in under the carpet,

Reply Posted by sid on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 22:32
Not sure they,all be able to you know. Hopefully they will pay in full,plus interest. The head of finance needs to carry out a complete enquiry (without it costing rate payers) after all his job is surely to make sure our money is accounted for,to the penny.Something is very wrong,and the carers involved,with the help of Unison must start the ball rolling for a clean sweep.

Reply Posted by Therealkilkenny on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 22:46
It,s a shame the council trying to use "scare tactics" threatening job cuts or closing homes.Just pay what is owed out of the money set aside for the sports arena.The staff have earned the money and sould be paid ASAP,It stinks whats going on with the councils accounts!

Reply Posted by threal sid on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 22:49
i love and adore little kids but i couldnt eat a whole one.

Reply Posted by sid on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 22:52
Here we go, LOL,S run out of sparklers. Haha.

Reply Posted by LOL on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 22:54
WATS UP THREALSID,SUMONE TAKIN MY NAME..

Reply Posted by sid on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 22:58
You're turning into my stalker you plonker, but you do make me laugh....now and then.

Reply Posted by pilley king on Tuesday November 5 2013 at 23:25
Someone's got their sums wrong. The actual cost of the back pay that's owed is more than £1million. BMBC doesn't have that kind of money kicking about.

Reply Posted by j on Wednesday November 6 2013 at 08:19
And I'm sure everyone else at BMBC would say - 'It doesn't matter, just give it me when you've got it.' Let's be honest - most of the staff would kick up a right stink if they were a mile short in their claim for mileage allowance!! These people are owed wages - get them paid!! They can find £11,000 A MONTH for stupid consultants!! Disgusting!

Reply Posted by sid on Wednesday November 6 2013 at 09:12
How come the employees themselves didn't know they were underpaid? 6yrs? Who doesn't check their wages? Its very odd.

Reply Posted by m on Wednesday November 6 2013 at 13:37
how can staff check their wages are correct and in accordance with national agreement when council finance dept. and their HR dept don't know what has to be paid and managers who have no idea but want to keep costs low so tell staff its correct

Reply Posted by retired on Wednesday November 6 2013 at 09:58
this is not the first time Barnsley Council has screwed up on pay for staff. the problem is that staff are paid according to the NJC agreement, and Barnsley council do not know what they have agreed to. Staff would find it very difficult to source, negotiate and interpret this 250+ page document which is why BMBC have people paid to do this. staff trust their employer to pay their wages correctly or give back what is owed in the same way as the council would expect to be paid any money you owe them. they certainly would not accept that I will pay what I owe for my council tax when I die out of my estate while I gain interest on it in my bank account. this goes further than Children's services it also applies to vulnerable Adult services and has been ongoing since 2011. GET IT SORTED

Reply Posted by rainbow on Wednesday November 6 2013 at 14:42
If these people are entitled to the money and it's the councils fault they should be payed immediately, the council has reserves. They've just found a million quid to fund the metrodome, £200,000 is peanuts, get em payed.

Reply Posted by pilley king on Wednesday November 6 2013 at 19:33
It's not £200,000, it's more than £1 million.

Reply Posted by pensioner on Thursday November 7 2013 at 14:38
great they owe staff wages that they are due to but haven't paid or reached agreement to pay yet I owe £25-00 on my council tax and they are threatening court action unless I pay within 7 days

Reply Posted by pensioner on Thursday November 7 2013 at 23:07
I paid my £25-00 council tax which was due the end of September (one month overdue) I also received my award for PPI that I should not have paid with 8% interest added I wonder if BMBC will be paying interest on the money they owe workers up to the day they leave service or receive their back pay. DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH