Barnet UNISON to be privatised!
Yes you read right! News just in that Barnet UNISON looks set to be privatised.
Barnet Council has attracted national media attention with its easyCouncil tag, well it looks like the private sector liked the look of the branch and decided to make a bid or maybe did not like the branch and decided to buy it and close it down!
A shocked and bewildered branch secretary John Burgess was caught on camera outside the Town Hall after spending lengthy talks over the future of the UNISON branch and said:
“You can’t make it up. We had no indication that our service was up for privatisation. We thought easyCouncil meant other services not ours! I am shocked but will be issuing a press release once I have had chance to talk to my officers!
We have lots of questions for instance where is the Business Case for this decision? We were not part of the Options Appraisal in fact we did not know that an Options Appraisal was taking place. We demand to see the Options Appraisal. We have heard rumours that TUPE Plus was not included which leaves our members at the mercy of private sector. Not just their Pay, Annual Leave but Pensions as well. We don’t even know if the private company will recognise trade unions it is just unbelievable. What about data protection issues for our members? This company could export this service out of Barnet and out of the UK which means existing legislation protecting data will be unenforceable! In the dire economic climate exporting jobs out of the borough seems madness at a time when the borough is experiencing rising unemployment.
Where was the consultation with the staff? What resources were given to other service delivery options especially the in-house bid? How can this decision deliver value for money and ensure democratic accountability? We are a Trade Union a democratic organisation our members vote for their reps how we can we demonstrate openness and transparency about decision making and service delivery if the private sector and their shareholders are ‘calling the shots!’ It is unacceptable to use the defence of ‘commercial confidentiality’ to hide details of business cases from our members and we will fight it all the way. It is member’s money and they need to see how and where their money is being spent.
We will oppose any attempt to turn our branch into easyUnion. We have seen leaked documents suggesting that there would be a significant shift in to the way members paid their subscriptions e.g. a standard charge for a first meeting with a UNISON rep with further charges if representation is required.”
I am seeking urgent meetings and asking for the Options Appraisal decision to be overturned. We are clear that if an Options Appraisal needs to take place it needs to do so in partnership with the Trade Union and its members. We know our service and so do they, we should be working together to put our own in-house bid. We would expect this bid to be resourced.
As you can imagine this has all come as complete surprise. In light of concerns we have had about the process I need to speak to our national union about whether we can seek a Judicial Review over the decision to privatise our branch.
I would like to send a message to all trade unions across the UK. It appears that belonging to a trade union is seen as threat to the financial institutions that seem to still have the power and influence to decide Government Policy. What is being proposed in Barnet maybe part of a more sinister coordinated campaign to break the trade unions forever. I could not help but be concerned about anti-union frenzy in the media over the BA dispute. What next? Will it be illegal for a worker to withdraw their labour? I look forward to messages of support for our struggle.
Please Note: Barnet Council has been carrying out a massive transformation entitled Future Shape, we have had no indication that the privatisation of the Barnet UNISON branch was in any way connected.