The Barnsley Branch of UNISON represents around 5,000 staff employed by Barnsley Council, Berneslai Homes, Barnsley College and in private care and community organisations across the Borough.

OUR AIM: To assist our members in their employment with their terms and conditions for a better, healthier workplace, to negotiate and defend our members, to fight for equality and justice, to defend our members and fight for pay.

2019: The year of young workers


Millennials: Avocados, flat whites and Instagram – right? Not quite. The hipster characterisation masks a much starker reality for the houseless generation. Most young workers are contending with low wages, insecure jobs and no voice at work. They need trade unions more than ever. This is why UNISON has voted to make 2019 the year of young workers.

A new suite of resources are available to help you communicate with young workers.

Recruit a friend

recruit a friend

Do you have friends who deliver public services in Barnsley? Do you know of any colleagues at your workplace who might not be members of a trade union?

If so, you can earn yourself £15 to spend at the shops for each new member you recruit. Find out more...

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Latest Newsletter published (21/05/19)

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UNISON urges Barnsley Council not to scrap school meals service (11/04/19)

Council plans to stop serving school meals in Barnsley have been blasted as a ‘dereliction of duty’ by trade union UNISON. Senior officers at Barnsley Council are considering a council report which recommends its schools meals service is scrapped because it does not expect to make a profit.

If approved councillors in the Labour-run authority could vote on whether to go ahead with the proposal at a cabinet meeting in May, which would give 44 primary schools just six months to find other ways to feed around 8,000 children.

UNISON has warned the council that its plan could cause job losses and pay cuts for 220 cooks and catering staff, while thousands of parents will worry about their children not getting decent hot meals at school.

The 48 schools the council currently caters for makes it the largest provider in Barnsley, but the authority is concerned it will not make a profit because five schools are planning on buying meals from the private sector, the union says.

Instead of cutting the service, UNISON has recommended the council follows the advice of its own market analysis and invest in the service.  The analysis recommended that around £80,000 was invested in staffing to increase capacity of the service and boost the management structure to make it competitive with professional catering companies.

UNISON Regional Organiser Robin Symonds said: “Cooking school meals should not be about making a profit, it should be about giving children in Barnsley the best start in life, and the plan has all the ingredients to be a disaster. This is a public service, not a business.
“Sadly Barnsley council seems to have lost sight of that and if councillors scrap the schools meals service it will be a dereliction of duty.  They will be turning their backs on thousands of children with over 40 schools scrambling around to find a replacement service with very little notice.

“We know from experience that if schools are forced to turn to the private sector then it will be school meals served on the cheap as every last penny of profit is squeezed out of the service by buying the cheapest ingredients and cooking the cheapest dinners.

“It will be our members who suffer too as wages and pension contributions could be cut and jobs may be lost. We believe that over £200,000 could be sucked out of the local economy through pay cuts and local providers not being used to buy ingredients.”

For any enquiries contact Robin Symonds on 07944 119 676 or by r.symonds@unison.co.uk
Alternatively, contact Jordan Stapleton on 07976 701 838 or by emailing J.Stapleton@unison.co.uk


Dinner Ladies jobs saved in strike victory - PRESS RELEASE (28/11/18)

Ladywood school

Date: 28.11.2018


Strike action has ended at Ladywood Primary School in Grimethorpe after the headteacher withdrew plans to make dinner ladies at the school redundant.

An agreement was reached between trade union UNISON and school management which plugs the deficit without any redundancies due to expected natural staff turnover, the union has said.

The striking dinner ladies, teaching assistants and higher level teaching assistants will now return to work on Thursday 29 November after taking 36 days of strike action which began back in September.

The strike started after the school’s headteacher Claire Grainger proposed in June to save money by make all nine of the school’s dinner ladies redundant and replace them with the existing teaching assistants.

Redundancies were unacceptable to UNISON after the union claimed the school was intended to spend around £60,000 on new teachers and teaching assistants while still making the dinner ladies redundant.

UNISON area organiser Jordan Stapleton said: “It was completely unacceptable to attempt to make the dinner ladies redundant when job losses were unnecessary.

“School budgets are being squeezed but in this case the school was spending the money it was saving on additional teaching staff and other support staff without even advertising the jobs.

“Our dinnerladies between them have got over 100 years experience at the school and they provide a caring and important role that is valued by the children. Importantly, the teaching assistants at the school were not prepared to put their family, friends and colleagues out of work.

“Where schools do need to make savings they need to know that low-paid women are not easy targets and the contributions they make to our communities cannot be underestimated.”


For more information contact UNISON area organiser Jordan Stapleton on 07976 701838 or email J.Stapleton@unison.co.uk


Grimethorpe School Staff set to strike over job losses (13/09/18)


Support staff at Ladywood Primary School in Grimethorpe are planning to strike for six days later this month over plans to make all nine School Meals Supervisory Assistants (dinnerladies) redundant.

The proposed strike action by 20 dinnerladies, teaching assistants and higher level teaching assistants on 12, 19, 20, 25, 26 and 27 September follows a 94.4% vote for strike action in a ballot which saw 90% of eligible members cast a vote.

The ballot came after the school announced plans in June to make the dinnerladies redundant and replace them with the existing teaching assistants, who would be supervising over 200 pupils at dinnertimes.

During a consultation with staff the school’s management argued that the teaching assistants have specialist skills to support challenging children at dinnertime, which means the dinnerladies are no longer needed.  Following a challenge to the proposals by UNISON the school has published further information that claims the redundancies are necessary to save money.

But UNISON points out that the proposed saving of £23,625 by making the redundancies has nearly been achieved through staff leaving, or reducing hours, and not being replaced.  The change in job role is also likely to increase salaries for the teaching assistants, the union says, and further money would be saved by not paying the teaching assistants to cover dinnertimes.

UNISON members rejected the plans in June and voted in favour of taking industrial action in a consultative ballot. But despite that, the trade union says the school pushed ahead with plans with management refusing requests to meet with representatives to resolve the dispute.

UNISON Area Organiser Jordan Stapleton said: “Our dinnerladies have been supporting children in Grimethorpe for generations and it’s shocking to suggest they are no longer needed.

“It’s also unfair to expect the teaching assistants to pick up the duties of the dinnerladies – they are stretched enough as it is.

“The school’s plans simply don’t add up and our members are concerned with how this will affect the children.  If the dinnerladies are made redundant the teaching assistants can’t provide the one-to-one support the headteacher wants because they’ll be supervising over 200 pupils.

“Strike action is always a last resort for our members but the school’s refusal to hold talks and reconsider has left us with no other option.  Grimethorpe is a close-knit community and our members – who are friends and family – are standing together to defend their jobs.”

For further information please contact:
UNISON Area Organiser Jordan Stapleton by mobile phone on 07976 701838 or email j.stapleton@unison.co.uk

Alternatively please contact UNISON Regional Organiser Robin Symonds by mobile phone on 07944 119676 or email r.symonds@unison.co.uk


Martin Waterhouse (10/04/17)

Martin Waterhouse
It is with great sadness that we report the death of our friend, comrade and trade unionist Martin Waterhouse on Thursday 30th March. Martin passed away, aged 61, in Blackpool after being taken ill on holiday.

He was an activist for decades and was recently elected as Social Secretary for the Branch. Martin was committed to fighting for his members’ interests at work and was active in the Barnsley Branch throughout his time as a Steward. He will be sadly missed by the branch and our condolences go out to his family and friends.


Farewell from Brian Steele, Branch Secretary (13/02/17)

Brian Steele

After 30 years with BMBC, the time has come for me to retire and I’d like to place on record all my thanks to UNISON and other colleagues I have worked with. The trade union movement has been a big part of my life and I have made many sacrifices to support others. I met my second wife Rachel Hughes on a council trip to Manchester regarding possible outsourcing of admin services.

I started employment with BMBC on 3 August 1987. I became a UNISON activist six months later when I became a steward under the former NUPE branch of UNISON.
I applied for the position of UNISON (NUPE) Convenor in 1992, this was a two weeks’ secondment and I am still here. I spent 18 months in Human Resources as a Job Evaluator for the department and then was successful in becoming a convenor for a second time. I believe I am the only representative to manage this.

I have held many positions within the branch: Branch Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson, Joint President, International Officer, Convenor, Political Officer and Branch Secretary. I have always represented members to the best of my ability and have enjoyed every minute doing so. Because of UNISON giving me the confidence to represent people and their Return to Learn education courses, it enabled me to use those skills to become Secretary of Barnsley Trades Council and I was President of South Yorkshire Association
of Trade Unions until stepping down earlier this month.

As Lead Officer for the branch I have seen many changes from the authority regarding restructures and terms and conditions during these difficult times of forced cuts. I believe that Barnsley has managed to protect these better than other authorities.

It is time for me now to move on and leave the branch in new guardianship. I am pleased to say that Ben Harvey will be taking over from me. Ben will face all the challenges I have faced with the Tory government’s austerity cuts and outsourcing of services. I wish him well in the future in representing what is the most important thing in our movement, our members. This is not always easy and many challenges will be presented on the way.
Finally, I would like to thank all previous Branch Officers and current ones for the support they have given me over the last 30 years. Especially Robin Symonds, Regional Officer who became a close friend.

Within the Branch Office: Ray Elvin, Kevin Swift, Ray Oldroyd, Malcolm Clements and Margaret Bruff and currently April Pepper, Ben Harvey, Michael Short and Andrea Palmer. I wish them all the best in the future and will always speak very highly of them.

I can assure you I will miss UNISON. As I said to my colleagues: I will have to improvise, adapt and move on.

Goodbye to you all and I hope to see you at the AGM on Thursday 16 February, 12.15 and 5.15 pm at Barnsley Town Hall.


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