Barnet council workers to strike against privatisation

On Thursday 9 February, hundreds of Barnet council UNISON members will go on strike. Barnet council workers are fighting plans to mass-outsource council services and jobs to the private sector.

Submitted by Django on February 6, 2012

The council is going ahead with a £750m “support and customer services project” where a private company will be engaged to deliver services like council estates, finance, human resources, information systems, procurement, revenues and benefits and project management services.

What is happening in Barnet is likely to happen across NHS services - private sector companies fighting to win lucrative, guaranteed contracts to provide public services. These contracts are all funded by the taxpayer.

Up to 70% of Barnet council’s workforce could be transferred to the private sector in little more than 11 months’ time.

For many of Barnet Unison’s members, this will be the fourth day of action in response to the One Barnet Project which seeks to transfer the majority of staff out of the council and develop partnership projects with private companies to deliver services. The total cost of these projects will very likely exceed £2bn, which is why private sector companies are lining up to win contracts with the council.

By agreeing to take action next week, members make an important statement. They want to remain council employees, they want inhouse service bidders to be allowed to compete with private companies, and, most of all, they want to serve the community they are passionate about.

After taking part in the picket line, a group of strikers will help out a local charity. Members want to make it clear that “while they will be withdrawing their labour from the council, they are not withdrawing their commitment to the community they are so proud to serve.”

John Burgess, Barnet Unison branch secretary said

“Doing nothing is not an option for our members. The council is playing high stake risks with our members’, and council taxpayers’, future payments. The council needs to recognise that the One Barnet programme cannot be allowed to continue to expose residents, services and staff to this high risk strategy and expect them to pick up the bill.”

Republished from False Economy