Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Barnet Council - worrying developments

In mid August the Financial Times reported that leading Tory councils are planning radical cuts. One example given was in Barnet, north London, where spending is being cut on local parks, libraries, welfare rights advice and sheltered housing. All of these are vital services that benefit the most vulnerable in our society. You can read the full FT article here. It makes grim reading. But these cuts can fought off, if council workers get organised.

Only last week The Guardian reported that Barnet Council will be using the budget airlines, EasyJet and Ryanair as a model for how council services will be run. You can read about it more here. Basically it means the council will provide a very basic minimum service and residents will have to pay more for any additional services.

It is astonishing anyone would want to ape the practices of Ryanair. They are famously anti trade union (see here) and their business practices are controversial (see here). The suggestion that councils will only provide a very basic service and make people pay for additional services is a disgraceful way of further marginalising the most vulnerable in society.

Whilst Barnet might not be a council in the East Midlands, what is going on there is relevant to UNISON members in this region. What we do know is that ideas like those at Barnet can rapidly gain supporters in the rest of the country and we need to be ready to fight any such ludicrous proposals. Over the coming weeks we will be telling you what you can do to play your part in keeping vital public services running. Three simple things you can do are below:

1. The first thing we need to do is to maximise the number of people in the union. So if you are not a UNISON member, join now. You can call 0845 355 0845 or join online here.

2. If you are already member of UNISON then you need to encourage your colleagues to join UNISON.

3. If your workplace does not have a rep of contact point contact your branch office (if you don't know the number call 0845 355 0845) and volunteer to become a contact or rep.

Successful campaigns come from having a loud voice with strong union membership, and a good network of contacts and stewards to spread the word. Make sure you play your part in defending vital services.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting the message we had chance of reply in the Guardian today http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/sep/02/response-barnet-council-budget-airline

    John Burgess Branch Secretary barnet UNISON